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Archive for January, 2014

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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, it is the day every Chinese household cook up a storm, starting early in the morning~ in my family back in Malaysia, we will be busy cooking foods to offer to our ancestors in the other world, and  this usually happen around lunch time. By the evening, we will be busy making the most important meal of the year– reunion dinner. Family members will always rush home from around the places to join the table. If you are not familiar with Chinese culture, let me tell you: Reunion dinner is a FEAST not to miss!Fish, shellfish, soup, pork, chicken, duck, veggie are usually on the menu. Oh how I wish we could join the dinner with my family on the other side of the planet… I have my feast too spreading out on my dining table here at home, but the feeling is not the same.

Anyhow, back to the cookies. This is another new cookie recipe I tried this year for my Chinese New Year bake, and I don’t really know why it is called German Cookies. Maybe it is similar to one of the Christmas cookies German make for the holiday?… Anyway, one interesting ingredient to this cookies is potato starch, which I believe is the key to these very light, airy and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Not only is the recipe super easy and fun to make with little kids, the cookie dough freezes well too.

Some people make their version with a marble look(chocolate and original flavor), doggy look (by using some cereal to make doggy face). Others use poppy seeds. This time, I used black sesame seeds so the cookies don’t look so plain and pale, plus I like the nutty flavor of toasted black seeds. Green tea or earl grey will be good choice for a different look and flavor as well.

German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– makes about 50-60 pieces

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch– “Windmill” brand preferred
2 tbsp dry milk powder
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– soften
3/4 cup powder sugar
2 tbsp black sesame seeds– toasted

Method:

  1. Combine flour, potato starch and milk powder together in a bowl.
  2. Put butter in a separate bowl. The butter must be very soft but not melted; microwave for a few seconds if needed. Add powder sugar and mix well. Add in sesame seeds to mix well again.
  3. Sift flour mixture into butter, mix to form a soft dough that is not sticky to the hands. If the dough is too soft, refregerate for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take a small piece of dough and roll into a ball of 1-inch size. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  5. Place each ball one a large baking pan, about 1 inch apart. Press each ball down slowly with a fork to make a pattern. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the edge is slightly brown. Cool completely then store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Freezing cookie dough: roll up dough to a log shape and wrap in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap. Place in air tight bag.
  • To toast sesame seeds: toast in dry clean pan on the stove on medium low heat, stirring at all time until the seeds puff up a little and sesame flavor starts to come out. Cool before use.
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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– before baking

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Potato starch– Windmill Brand

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

With Chinese New Year getting closer and closer, I have been baking like crazy~ pretty much bake one type of cookies a day on top of my normal busy routine around the house. These hazelnut chocolate mini cuppies are new cookies that I tried making this year. I love hazelnut, and chocolate makes it even better! This is a very simple recipe that produce yummy cookies. From my previous trip back to Malaysia, I brought with me these mini baking cup liners which is perfect for these cookies. For those who are not familiar with Chinese New Year cookies (a New Year tradition among Malaysian and Singapore Chinese), they are usually made in bite size and have a delicate look. If you are making these cookies, go elegant with the look~ make the cookies small and pretty just like from a chocolate shop. It worth the efforts.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies (makes 120- 140 mini cuppies)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 cup toasted hazelnut– ground
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate sauce (whisk to melt in a double boiler, over medium low heat, cool slightly):
1 lb bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1.5 bag (10oz each)
1 stick unsalted butter– cut into pieces

Topping:
1/3 cup toasted hazelnut– skin-off preferred, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Combine flour, ground hazelnut, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place butter in a separate large bowl, gradually pour in flour mixture while using fingers to rub in butter, until it forms a dough and doesn’t stick to hands. If the dough is too soft to handle, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into small pieces (about 8g each) and roll each piece into a balls, about size of a marble ball. Place each ball in the baking cup and press down with your thumb or finger to form a disc.
  4. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-18 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.
  5. When the cookies are cooled completely, carefully cover the top with about 1/2 tsp of chocolate sauce. Sprinkle some chopped toasted hazelnut on the top. When the chocolate is set, store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chocolate sauce: if the chocolate cools down and thicken, just warm it up again over a low heat simmering pot.
  • Freezing cookie dough: to freeze cookie dough, wrap tightly in a parchment paper (shape like a sushi roll), then wrap in plastic wrap and inside an air tight bag.
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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

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I join a group on Facebook called Baking Wonderland, and people pose all kinds of delicious food photos all the time. This cheesecake recipe comes from Baking Wonderland. What caught my eyes was that it uses only 3 simple ingredients: cream cheese, chocolate and eggs. Yes, very simple. Flourless and oil free too. Original 6-inch cake recipe calls for 3 eggs, 120g cream cheese and 120g chocolate. Since I don’t have 6-inch cake pan, 1 block of cream cheese in U.S. is 220g, and 1 package of chocolate chips is 10 oz, I figure I will just kinda double up the recipe to fit my 9-inch cake pan , and conveniently save my time measuring the amount of cream cheese and chocolate chips.

Why trial #1? Well, because this is a VERY simple recipe (we tend to like simple works don’t we all?). And who doesn’t like chocolate?? Plus, I made a boo boo this time during baking– I was supposed to turn off the oven and let the cake sit in the oven for another 15 minutes after baking at 300°F, but I forgot to turn off the oven heat!! So my cake baked an extra 15 minutes at the end, creating a cracked cake top. 😦

I could hardly wait for the cake to chill so I could try the taste. But… uh oh! The cake was a lot denser than I expected, and it was just too crumbly– I just couldn’t make a nice cut at all.  My mood went straight down to the bottom. The taste was good though– rich creamy chocolaty with a tangy flavor from the cream cheese. At the end, we finished this big piece of “chocolate crumbs”. Consider its simplicity, I might try making it again.

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Flourless Chocolate Souffle Cheesecake Trial #1

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Flourless Chocolate Souffle Cheesecake Trial #1– crumbs, crumbs, crumbs…

Flourless Chocolate Souffle Cheesecake (makes one 9-inch round cake)

Ingredients:

Egg yolk mixture:
8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese– room temperature
10 oz (1 package) bittersweet chocolate chips
5 egg yolks– room temperature

Egg white mixture:
5 egg whites– room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange oven rack to lower 2/3 (so the cake bakes in the middle of the oven). Boil a pot of water.
  2. Line the bottom of a  9-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Then double wrap the bottom of cake pan with foil (or put cake pan in a larger shallow pan). Prepare another large roasting pan for the water bath.
  3. Put cream cheese and chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir until it melts half way. Remove from the heat and continue mixing until all blended well. The mixture will be dense and sticky.
  4. Add in egg yolks, one at a time, and mix well to combine. The better will look smoother.
  5. Whip egg whites on high speed (KitchenAid Stand Mixer speed 8) until no visible clear egg whites. Add in cream of tartar or lemon juice, continue on high speed (speed 8). When the egg whites become meringue looking, turn down the speed (speed 6) so it whips out big air bubbles, whip for another 2-3 minutes until pointy peak forms.
  6. Gently fold in whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture, in 3 batches, until all blended well. Pour batter into springform pan. Smooth the top.
  7. Add boiling water to the roasting pan (water level is about 1-2 inches high), then put cake (if using larger shallow pan: springform cake pan in shallow pan, then together in the roasting pan) in the roasting pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F, for 15 minutes. Then reduce further to 300°F for another 15 minutes. The cake should be done at this point (toothpick/skewer inserted into the cake center should come out clean). Remove from the oven. Cool completely before chilling in the fridge. Served chilled for best flavor.

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Okay, last time I made strawberry chocolate muffins, I used 3/4 cup milk for 10 muffins– it was good, but a little too moist and too soft to hold its shape. The batter was kinda runny because I used milk, which contains more water. This time I fine tuned the recipe around– changed the ingredient proportion for 12 muffins, used whipping cream (which is thicker than milk), and switched to egg separation method. I believe the egg separation method is the main key to fluffy muffins. It’s the same principle as making a chiffon cake, and the outcome is really fluffy baked goods. Yes, it requires more work, but not too bad in this case. Give it a try!

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Strawberry & Chocolate Muffins #2

Strawberry & Chocolate Muffin #2 Recipe (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter– melted and keep warm

Egg yolk mixture:
2 egg yolks– room temperature– see note below
3/4 cup whipping cream– see note below
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Egg White mixture:
2 egg whites– room temperature
2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin pans with muffin cup liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, 4 tbsp sugar, baking power and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Whisk all ingredients in egg yolk mixture to blend well. Add in melted butter and mix well again. Pour into flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold in just enough to moist. The batter will be very lumpy and thick like  wet dough. Do not over mix the batter.
  4. In a separate clean bowl, whip egg whites on high speed until it looks white and bubbles are very tiny. Gradually add in sugar. Continue whipping on high speed until soft peak (curve tip) forms.
  5. Fold in whipped egg whites into the batter in 2 batches, until all whipped egg whites just blend well. The batter at this point will still be lumpy but a little loose. Add in strawberries and chocolate chips, fold in a few more times.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes and the muffin top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove to cool on a rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Regina’s Note:

  • Eggs: be sure to use room temperature eggs. A quick way is to soak eggs in luke warm water for 10-15 minutes to bring to room temperature.
  • Whipping cream: I used whipping cream instead of milk because whipping cream is thicker, and thus the batter was not as runny compared to using same amount of milk. If you use milk (preferably whole milk), start with 2/3 cup first to get the batter moist enough (batter should be dense like scone batter). You can always add a little more if needed. You can also use whipping cream/milk combination or substitute milk for cream, but if milk is used then cut down amount of liquid (starts with 1/2 cup then gradually adding a little more as you fold in batter) because milk contains more water and better absorbed by flour mixture, and thus you don’t need as much amount as cream.
  • If you have hot cocoa mix sitting in your pantry too long, you can use it too instead of unsweetened cocoa powder, but cut down sugar to 2 tbsp as there is sugar in hot cocoa mix. The chocolate flavor won’t be as strong but the muffins still taste good.
  • Other tangy berries like raspberry and blackberry are also good choices for making these muffins.

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Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Like many other Thai foods, this is a very appetizing dish that goes very well with fragrant jasmine rice. I just made it a few days ago and now I’m in the mood of making it again!It’s very easy to prepare, and I guarantee  your belly will be satisfied, adding bowls and bowls of jasmine rice to go with it 🙂

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Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’

Thai Ground Pork Stir Fry with Basil ‘Pad Krapow’ (serves 2-3 people):

Ingredients:
1/2 ground pork (optional– lightly seasoned with little salt and ground white pepper)
1 tbsp rice cooking wine
3 cloves garlic– chopped
3-4 Thai red hot peppers– chopped
1/2 medium onion– diced
1/2 red bell pepper– diced
handful Thai basil leaves

Seasoning sauce (mix well):
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce– “Three Crabs” brand preferred
1 tsp sugar>
juice of 1 lemon or lime

Method:

  1. Add 1 tbsp cooking oil to a hot wok. Add ground pork. Stir the meat to have a roughly even layer (not a big lump). Fry til the bottom is slightly brown. Stir around to loose up the meat. Add cooking wine (a must!) to remove any meat smell/taste.
  2. Add in garlic and red hot peppers. Stir until it gets aromatic.
  3. Add in seasoning sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes for the pork to soak up the flavor. When the sauce is almost dry, add in diced onion and red bell pepper and stir a few times.
  4. Add in basil leaves and make a few stirs, until the basil leaves are wilted. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Thai basil leaves— Use Thai basil, not sweet basil which is used in western cuisine. And don’t be stingy about it– it’s the soul of this dish.
  • If lime is used, you might need a little more sugar to balance the sour taste.

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