Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
1 fresh (moist) vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
a 2-inch cookie cutter (we used a fluted diamond-shaped one)
Make vanilla sugar:
Scrape vanilla seeds from pod with tip of a knife into confectioners sugar. Halve pods crosswise and bury in sugar. Cover tightly and let stand at least 24 hours and up to 1 month.
Discard pods and transfer vanilla sugar to a food processor. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse just until mixture is in pea-size lumps. Add yolk and pulse just until a dough forms. Gather dough into 2 balls, then flatten into 2 (5-inch) disks and chill, each disk wrapped well in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Roll out 1 disk (keep the other chilled) to less than 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutter and chill scraps. Arrange cookies 1/2 inch apart on a buttered large baking sheet. Make more cookies with remaining dough, rerolling scraps (but only once).
Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until edges are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
• Dough can be chilled up to 2 days.
• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.
recieving enquiries from your blog readers and having them try out one of your recommended recipes and then returning back to you with pictures!
the collection of tea sitting on your table. Chai.. ahh...
the air-mailed package from a girlfriend.
Now no one can wipe the silly smile off my bro's face with the precious goodies found in it. Not to mention the 'love' it was sent with. *sniggers*. Thx gurl for making the naughty boy so happy.
having lunch with the most important person in your life almost every other day.
and last but not least
the scoops of melting homemade mango sorbet sitting on your counter top.
so tell me? what are your sweets?
and please do check out the other works of the amazing TWD bakers over on theblogroll!
verdict: the cake was a showstopper! the entire thing being wiped out in a matter of seconds. people just cldn't stop raving about it. and guess what's the best part about it? I was given the chance to bake the company's monthly birthday celebration cake for the month! *woots!* (pumps fist in the air)
seriously, there was endless ideas to this theme. With exotic fruits like durians and dragon fruits topping the list, but hardly any of them being able to sink in well with a traditional dessert. incorporating theme into normal western styled desserts was not an easy task though as few of these flavors complimented the heaviness and richness of western desserts. to tell the truth, i scorned durians and never once let it cross my mind to include them in my plans.
Black sesame and Green Tea Cheese Cake
here's presenting to you 'the weeping willow'. To break it down. It is all in all, a black sesame and green tea layered cheesecake. Topped with cream puffs filled with green tea pastry cream and surrounded by a lovely wall of homemade sesame brittle. To my delight, the cake turned out beautiful, with every angle of it reminding me of a majestic weeping willow tree peeping over its shadow casted on the lake. Taste wise, it was beautiful on the palette with the sesame seed studded crust adding a touch of fragrance and crunchiness to the entire dessert. I was floored by the outcome, now i'm just sitting and waiting for the next chance to make it once more.
I would like to thank Amrita for this wonderful opportunity. it's been a pleasure baking this cake. From the strange pairing of sesame and green tea in the cheesecake to the experimental tries at making brittle and profitereles! its been a baking experience of many firsts. And somehow through the night, they all turned out successful. Strange but magical in its own way. Perhaps its the power of the orient at work...
Being in the good sprit that i was in after making the purchase of my newest toy... the breadmaker. I decided to try out my first loaf of bread using my beloved gadget. trust me, i was way excited to see good results.
Needless to say, judging from the title, i got NONE! *kicks the table and punches the wall with her fists*... DAMMIT! seriously, this is stupid! i did all the steps right.. what could have gone wrong? window pane test check, poofing to double the size check.. what it is?!?!?!
*groanz*.. it just drives MAD just thinking about the possible reasons how things could go haywire! just look at the bloody bread. *bangs head*.. its a mess!!! the insides were hardly even cooked whilst the outside was crisp and golden brown. WTH!!! i dunno anymore?
hmph.. cld it be tt the yeast had expired? *shakes head*
whatever! i'll just leave it at there. Probably try another loaf again soon.
I'll turn my attention to my ode to the chocolate eclair (the one specifically from the deli at the atrium in pan pacific hotel). The most lucious and gorgeous dessert i had in a long time. With the intensity of chocolate hitting the roof with every bite... *yum*.. (feeling the chocolate pastry cream oozing out from under the crisp layer of choux pastry). now that's to die for..
you go on an eating spree!!!
warning: this is a subjective choice on my part so please do not heed this advice and gorge yourself every wkend lest you end up a stuffed pig in the end.
weekends.. most pple wld look forward to this time of the week because it means more freedom, more relaxation time and definitely more time to idle... but as usla, i'm one of the rarest of all breeds. Someone who dreads the weekend for its non-stop back-busting action and its dire state of mind it brings along with it gloomy arrival.
However, as much as i dread weekends. This one turned out to be not so bad after all... perhaps it was the gourmet cusine involved. Baking preceeded on at a blinding speed. With cakes being churned out everyday of from friday to sunday. cupcakes, frosting, chocolate cake, cheesecake. Gawd.. and i thought that i could perhaps experiment with bread on Sunday. FAT HOPE!
Instead, i was whizzed off on a culinary journey. Good food galore! to sum it all up, Japanese buffet dinner on Saturday and yummy fish meals with wicked desserts on Sunday night. Good enough to cure the incoming bombardment of monday blues.
Saturday's Japanese buffet was served up at Akira Japanese Restaurant off tiong bahru road. Situated at the basement of a rather dingy looking hotel, i would have never considered coming here for a japanese meal if my mother had not suggested it. So off we went!
It was pure madness and different dishes; sashimi, tempura, beef terriyaki, salmon teppanyaki poured through the doors of our private room. The frustration of the staff were imminent as they were baffled by the larger than life appetites that our family had acquired.
okay, no we zoom on to the next culinary experience of the week. gawd.. surely i've got to have alife besides all the food. haha. *fast forwardingggg*
hey wait a min.. isn't tt? oh yeh.. tts not some food item on the menu. just a cupcake order i had for the weekend. White chocolate chip strawberry cupcakes and caramel banana cupcakes for a bf. now.. tt spells SWEET! *cross my fingers* Hope he enjoyed it...
sunday was dedicated to fish as we visted Hooked, a resturant located along rail mall. Just a stone throws down from where i live. It's rather strange how we haven't got down to trying their food ever since they open shopped about 2 yrs ago, even more so despite the raving reviews.
orite, so lets skip the talk now and let the photos do the talking yeh. First up...
Salmon tapas (salmon cooked to perfection with a stroke of pink) served up with cream and a sprinkling of salmon roe on a wheat cracker. -- This was AWESOME man! such succulence in the fish...
mummy's seafood marinara... look at the amount of ingredients they've thrown in! now tts sure worth a try!
and finally my fish en papilloute! fish in a foil parcel steamed in its own juices and a excellent pairing of lemon, garlic and pesto. Divine!
and as everyone knows, dinner is never complete without dessert. So, with under my persuasion, we headed on down to galbati just two shops down to have our lovely sweet endings! Tiramisu for Kor (i dare say its still the best one that i've tried anywhere else) and a cripsy chocolate mint mousse cake between mum and I. *groanz* (not from the pleasure of eating but from the heaving of my stomach from the excessive eating). Still, we wiped out the desserts with gusto down to the crisp flakes on the plate. It was just all too good!!!
With that, i mark the end of my weekend culinary journey. So long my lovely forks and spoons and welcome track shoes. *boo hoo*.. the price you have to pay.. bleah.
on a side note: I just heard the news from the secretary, apparently the MD liked the mango marshmellows so much that he took two pieces home for his wife!!! *cheers*.. now i've got to make more the next time round.
on a side note: I just heard the news from the secretary, apparently the MD liked the mango marshmellows so much that he took two pieces home for his wife!!! *cheers*.. now i've got to make more the next time round.
oh yesh! here's a special offer going for you peeps...
Mad about gourmet cookies but can't find them at reasonable prices?
if you're crazy about coffee as well then you're in the right place!
Packets of Freshly baked Coffee Cookies, weighing in at 200g each (about 25 cookies, 5cm in diameter) for sale at a phenomenal price! Each cookie filled with the richness of brewed espresso and a tint of coffee liquor. Topped off with an almond slice. Packed into no-frill ziplock bags perfect for storage. Good for snacking on the weekends or just to pair together with your hot drink on a cold rainy day. Each bag going out for only $3.50 (original: $4.50)!!!
this crazy offer will only be on till thursday night. So do place your orders (sms 96169609, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) by then!
collection will be at orchard/ bukit timah/ clementi areas during stipulated timings. Please contact me for further details or special requests.
Sippin' from a bottle of vodka double wine
never in my wildest dreams have i thought about making marshmallows. Number one, because i ain't exactly nuts about them, even when u pass me a stick and a bag of marshmallows at a barbeque. Number two, I have never thought about nor attempted dwelling into the art of candy making. honestly, im a wimp and it took me ages to start venturing into bread. candy?!?! I find that even more so intimidating since I don't own a candy thermometer. and EVERYONE knoes that you need one in candy making *rolls eyes*
In the end, the marshmallows turned out perfect.. and when i say perfect, i say it from the opinion of a person who has never ever laid eyes on a piece of marshmallow in a lustful manner. Shuns rocky road brownies and ice-creams because of the marshmallows and even attempts to free her oreo cereal of the teenie bits of marshmallows strewened ard. that says it all does it. They were GOOD!
flavored with mango puree (it was babe's idea! *points innocently at zh.. he claims to be a 'fruity' guy. oh well), the marshmallow was light and melted beautifully in the mouth. the light hue of yellow and the fragrance of the mango matched perfectly. the heavenly scent bursting each time i opened the container to steal a whiff. addiction...
I'll definitely be making these again with the different flavorings recommended in the book. cappuccino marshmallows.. yum.. chocolate marshmallows? (hmph, heard it wld lead to some curdling problem, not sure if that is true or not?)
But for now, here is the much loved recipe for marshmallows from Dorie Greenspan's book.
Adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 1 pound marshmallows
Ingredients: About 1 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup mango puree
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites.In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and mango puree.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).
Dust the top of the marshmallows with cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more. Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
next week's recipe as chosen by Amanda of slow like honey is Bill's Big Carrot Cake! now..tts just exciting! (sam..i knoe you'll be drooling over this one.. MUAHAHA).. Guess i'll be saving up my cravings for this treat then.
orite..so i admit it wasn't any form of a black tie event, no french cuffs or cuff links or expensive bow ties.. in the end, it was just a simple get together games session at PITSTOP CAFE! here's the gang all in one shot!
thanks paulie for the photos... gawd, i was actually careless enough to leave my bag with babe containing my camera before i left to join the gang. boohoo, but thanks anyway yar!
so as I have said just now, our celebration cum mini gathering was celebrated at pitstop cafe at circular road. it was a great idea considering our large group, mundane lives and minimal budget. A games cafe was a sure fit for a celebration like this. the bdae gurl.. Pingting looked as vibrant and bubbly as ever and was appreciative of the gathering tt Serene had planned for her. THANKS SERENE! best part of the whole celebration was tt the party wasn't meant for one but TWO! unfortunately we kept mum about Calvin's bdae.. he must have been pretty disappointed as he thought that we had clean forgotten that his bdae was the next day. NEH.. we wldn't do tt! hehe. So in the end, it sure was a pleasant surprise! (look at his expression as he pumps his fist in the air!)
(if you're wondering what the hell Sam, Rooney and I are doing in the picture with our hands clasp, you'll never figure it out... truth is we were imitating mariah carey in her 'touch my body' MTV.. haha. okie.. now's the cue to laugh your guts out.)
sheesh.. so technically I'm late again huh? gosh.. the bad things just keep coming. *ouch*. Okay, to cut the chase before i fall flat on my face from fatigue. Lets first introduce the event! Well, with roots from one of its fore-fathers, oops, forgive me, fore-mothers; Laurie from quirky cupcake, also the host of cupcake hero (one of my fav events as u guys shld alr knoe) began this humble event as a booster to start baking from hernew book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Rooting in people to bake along with her as she challenged herself to some of the most mindblowing recipes within the hidden treasure of a book written by one of the most talented writers. Gosh.. trust me on this one. I was a Dorie Greenspan fan, once i laid my hands on 'Paris Sweets' by her as well. okay, back to TWD history.. so the threesome grew to its present size of 150+ members (correct me if i'm wrong, i'm reallie a clutz with statistics) in a matter of months. And therefore, with that this event is a now a major success with its own website (pls refer to the link on my sidebar) and its own recipe rotation list.
baking, cuddling with babe, online shopping, lindy hop dance classes, getting praised by your boss at work? neh.. there's no answer to that question i guess coz its ALL of the above!!! my life revolves ard the above following, in no order of merit of course ( in case babe gets jealous of the other non-living objects. *sniggers*)
But sometimes here and there, collisions of foul nature are bound to happen along the way. Started the day on the wrong side of the bed today with sequential bad-luck events happening one after another. gawd.. thank goodness babe was there to listen to my crapping and nonsensical rantings (it reallie amazes me how he does that though.. give me a gf lyke tt and i swear i would kick her out the door. haha). But still, miracles do happen. And I'm the most fortunate girl to have one right beside me. *hugz*
so.. been thinking lately about getting a breadmaker machine for myself. Would be great with functions like timer; *hazely dreaming of the aroma of a fresh loaf of bread every morning*.. tt wld be just perfect.. and all these sans the terrible kneading by hand (actually not so..its rather stress-relieving; DIE U SON OF A BAST***, woops. pardon me). yep. so.. breadmachine maker yesh or no?
oh well.. lets just say this wld have to wait as I've got more urgent issues on my hands. like... getting the TWD post out!! mummy! pls come home with the camera soon!
Don't wanna fly if you're still on the groundIt's like no matter what I do
and the bread experiment saga continues. This time at the spur of the moment, i decided to bake something for babe. Something that was not sweet, something to fill a guys stomach; that way he wouldn't complain that I was stuffing sweet desserts down his throat all the time. *oops* (winks at Deborah) . With that, I did a bit of research, a.k.a blog surfing and found this perfect little recipe for sweet buns off happyhomebaker's website and thought that, perhaps a little addition of savory stuff like ham and cheese and sausage would do the trick. (taking in mind the atrocious sausage croissants that Babe had purchased from carrefour after dance lessons; trust me guys, they were horrid and texture wise, were a cross between a normal bun and an extremely soggy croissant left to stand 2 days ago.)
Armed with the lesson taken from the previous bread-baking expt which was not too long ago, i was determined to squeeze a little more muscle into the kneading efforts. to produce a softer fluffier bread of course. But after kneading for 40mins with my bare hands, i had reduced the sticky dough to one that was very stretchable, BUT somehow unable to pass the window pane test. RAWR... needless to say, i shut one eye. And after a few more tosses and stretches, i left the dough to poof at room temperature for the next hour plus.
When i came back, i was thrilled to see that the dough had poofed up to at least twice the original size. YESH! so i did succeed. This was going to produce some nice bread for sure... hehe. And so it did!. the bread texture was just nice, hot from the oven. Soft and tender... and it stayed that way for a pretty long time.
so in the picture above these were the variations I managed to come up with. Using the dough in the recipe above, I got 9 portions of bread each of about 60g in weight. I decidingly rolled some with sausages (i boiled them for a while before) and some with ham and cheese and lastly with kaya.
Trust me, i was elated upon seeing the beautiful bread. they look like those from the confectionary shops! (erm.. apart from my lousy rolling skills that resulted in rather uneven flower petals. haha) I promised to leave a few to make pork floss buns the next time round. Any other suggestions people?
So without further ado, here is the recipe for those aspiring bread-winners!
Sweet Bun Recipe
Ingredients: (make around nine 60g portions)
150g bread flour
150g cake flour
5g active dry yeast
60g caster sugar
(1 egg, beaten, for glazing)
- Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Add in milk, egg and butter. Mix into a dough.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until the gluten is fully developed and the dough is elastic, smooth and non-sticky. It will take about 25 mins to knead the dough by hand. Initially the dough will stick on to the work surface. Do not be tempted to add more flour or even give up kneading! After continuous kneading, the dough will no longer stick to the work surface. (i used 40mins though.. haha..)
- Place the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel or cling wrap to seal in the moisture. Allow the dough to ferment(or proof) until double in bulk. This will take about 1 hr in our Singapore weather. To test whether the dough has been fully proofed, press a finger into the dough and withdraw quickly. It should leave a deep impression and spring back very slowly. For an insufficiently proofed dough, the impression will spring back instantly.
- Take out the dough and punch out the gas produced. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 60g portions. Shape and add fillings as desired. Arrange dough in a greased or lined pan. Rest for about another 15 minutes.
- Brush the top with whole egg mixture. Add almond flakes on the top of the buns, as desired.
- Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 190 degC. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
and tada.. you've got bakery shop bread fresh out of your oven. Its not so tough after all! and whats most important was... there was something to fill my Babe's stomach before dance lessons. *yay*.. he likes it!