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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

Beautiful aren’t they? I stumped on this video ‘Rose di pasta sfoglia’ on YouTube while I was looking for six-braid challah braiding instructions, and thought, I’M MAKING IT! The instructions are in Italian (I think) so I was just guessing the amount of ingredients based on the video. Despite its fancy look, these edible roses are quite easy to make using store bought puff pastry dough, and I guarantee the receiver(s) of these roses will go WOW!!

Well, being the first trial, and just like the beautiful fragrant roses in the garden, they have challenges. My problem this time was that the pastry dough didn’t cook through towards the center. The bottom was already quite brown, the outer layer pastry puffed  up, and ‘petals’ was getting burnt, but the inner pastry layers were still not done!! I ran out of time, and also couldn’t bake it any longer without risking my beautiful rose petals. Maybe I set oven temperature too high (400°F)?

I made these apple roses for Alexander’s birthday, and we had some leftovers the next day. I reheated the leftovers in preheated 375°F oven for 10-15 minutes to see if the pastry part improves~ well, it puffs up some more, but still not all layers puffed up… Luckily this is an easy and quick dessert so it’s not that hard to make a different batch for next trial.

Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰 Recipe (makes 12 roses)

Ingredients:
3 large golden delicious apples
Juice of 1 lemon
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

2 sheets (or 1 box) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet– thawed

Method:

  1. Peel and core apples. Slice thin, about 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle lemon juice, toss to coat well.
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add sugar, salt and cinnamon. Mix to blend well. When sugar dissolves, add in apple slices (drain lemon juice).  Stir and cook until apple slices become soft enough to roll up (the juice should be almost dried up at this point). Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Take a sheet of pastry and cut into 6 strips lengthwise. Roll out each strip to 15 inches long.
  4. Arrange apple slices on one side of a pastry strip, with part of apple hanging over the strip (it’s okay to overlap apple slices). Leave a 1/2 inch space at both ends. Fold the pastry on the other side over apple slices. Use a fork to press to seal both ends.
  5. Coil pastry strips up, and tuck the end under the pastry rose. Bake at preheated 400°F oven for 15-18 minutes.

Regina’s Note:

  • As I said, this is not a perfect recipe yet~ My problem is the puff pastry didn’t cooked all way through especially towards the center. The outer layer of pastry was puffy and the bottom was quite brown already but not the center!! I think my temperature maybe too high. If I lower to 375°F then will the pastry puff up? or maybe I coil up too tight? If I loose up a little will the pastry in the center bake up better? I couldn’t bake any further this time as the bottom of the roses were quite brown, and the roses start having a burning edge on their “petals” already… hmm, more trial to come.
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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

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Apple Roses 蘋果玫瑰

Italian Herb Focaccia

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Italian Herb Focaccia

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Italian Herb Focaccia

I haven’t made focaccia for a very long time. This delicious flat bread can be baked in a shallow pan, which will yield a little more height, more interior crumb for dipping in EVOO. It can also be baked free form, directly on baking stone– it may not be as tall as ones baked in a pan, but more crusty for sure. Well, how to have the best of both worlds?

The magic is baking in a pan, AND in a high temperature oven (425°F–450°F, preheated at least 20 minutes), use baking stone (for even heat distributing) and water sprays (to create a baking environment similar to brick oven, producing crunchy crust). My focaccia this time turned out awesome. I think it was the best focaccia I’ve ever had (including store bought and restaurants)~ crusty with every bite, yet the interior crumb is very soft and fluffy for dipping in extra virgin olive oil, not to mention the wonderful aroma from the herbs.

I used Zojirushi bread maker to knead the dough as my KitchenAid stand mixer was dying on me. This is a relatively easy recipe because the ingredients are simple and the machine does all the hard work. It’s so easy that I think I will have my kids made the bread next time.

Italian Herb Focaccia Recipe (makes 1 large 9″ x 13″ loaf)

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tsp dried Italian seasoning mix

Method (using Zojirushi bread maker for dough kneading):

  1. Add water and olive oil at the bottom of breadmaker loaf pan. Then add bread flour, covering the liquid. Make a indentation in the center and add yeast to the ndentation. Put salt and Italian seasoning mix at different corner. Select “DOUGH” course and press “START”.
  2. When the course finishes all cycles, remove dough to a greased large bowl. Cover bowl and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Meanwhile grease a 9″x13″ shallow pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Remove dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface. Punch down the dough and stretch out slightly. Transfer to greased baking pan, stretch out the dough with fingers to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap, rest in a warm place until the dough doubles the height.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F (at least 20 minutes) with baking stone positioned on upper 1/3 rack. Fill a spray bottle with some water.
  5. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on top of the bread, then make dimples, 2 inches apart, with your finger. Sprinkle some ground black pepper and kosher salt on top.
  6. Quickly spray water to oven walls, about 2-3 spray per side. Do it quick before the oven loses its heat. Place baking pan and dough on baking stone. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden and crusty. Remove focaccia from the pan and cool on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Dough rise: after Zojirushi finishes its dough course (including rise cycles), I took the dough out and rest dough in a bowl until it doubles in size. 2nd rest in greased baking pan is double in height– it takes a longer time but I think it makes very soft fluffy interior crumb.
  • Leftover focaccia can be frozen. Just wrap up tightly and placed inside an air-tight ziplock bag. When ready to serve, thaw in fridge slowly then fresh it up in the oven.
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Zojirushi BM: Hot Dog Buns

As my KitchenAid stand mixer recently dying on me on bread dough kneading, my hubby got me this bread machine for me this past Christmas. Oh how very sweet of him!!

Back then when I decided to buy a stand mixer instead of a bread machine because I thought stand mixer is more versatile– it can handle mixing, whipping and dough kneading. Bread machine is only for making bread (not to mention its big bulky size)… well, now I change my thinking– bread machine is called “bread machine” for a reason~ I have tried bread from a bread machine vs. stand mixer. And let me tell you that bread from bread machine has a softer texture. The other thing is, at least I don’t have to worry about the weird sound coming from the stand mixer while kneading the dough, nor do I have to worry the burning smell (and little smoke coming out of the accessory attachment hole!) from the overheated motor. Yes, it’s bulky, but it’s much much lighter my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and much much quieter! I am now worry free when I make breads~ I can do other chores without checking on it every now and then, take long showers, go shopping… okay, enough talking here. Time to get to work!

Zojirushi Bread Machine: Hot Dog Buns Recipe (makes 16 buns)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup luke warm water
1 egg– beaten
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tbsp dry milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry yeast
3 tbsp unsalted butter– cut into pieces

8 bun-length hot dogs

egg wash

Method (using Zojirushi bread maker for kneading):

  1. Combine bread flour, milk powder, sugar and salt. Add water and beaten egg to the bottom of bread machine loaf pan. Carefully add in flour mixture (to cover the liquid in the loaf pan).
  2. Make a small well/ indentation on top of flour mixture, add dry yeast to the indentation. Scatter butter pieces around the yeast. Select course to “REGULAR/DOUGH” and press “START”.
  3. Meanwhile, blanch hot dogs in boiling water for a few minutes to wash down the salt. Drain and pat dry. Cut hot dogs in half across the length to make 16 pieces. Cool completely.
  4. When machine finishes kneading the dough, remove dough from machine loaf pan and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest on a warm surface (I used double-boiler method– place bowl on top of a slightly small pot filled with hot water at the bottom, rest the pot on a kitchen towel on the table) for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Divide dough into 16 portions, pull each portion to 12 inches long sticks (like making bread sticks). Wrap the dough around 1 hot dog pieces, pinching both ends to seal tightly. Place on baking pan with sealed side facing down. Repeat with remaining dough and hot dogs.
  6. Cover the hot dog buns with plastic wrap. Let hot dog buns rest in a warm place until it doubles in size. Alternatively, you can also let the buns rise slowly in the fridge overnight, bring to room temperature the next day before baking. Apply egg wash and bake at preheated 350°F oven for 15-18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
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Love Letters 手工鷄蛋卷– two versions: roll up and fold up

Oh how I wish I could bring back an electric love letter maker from my previous trips back to Malaysia, but the voltage is different so the maker is useless here… 😦 Well, just saying… If I were to have one at home, then I wouldn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making these love letters manually. One by one, paying close attention to the stove heat, and take chances of not even browning or burnt pieces… One piece takes about 3 minutes to make, but 3 seconds to eat! Yeah… There’s a reason why I haven’t made love letters at home for a very long time. All because of Chinese New Year…

Love Letters 手工鷄蛋卷 Recipe (makes about 80 pieces)

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 large (400 ml) can plus 1 small (165ml) can coconut milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp white sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Sift rice flour, flour and tapioca starch in a large bowl. Add coconut milk and mix well to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add to the flour/coconut milk mixture. Blend well.
  3. Strain the batter to remove any lumps. Mix in sesame seeds.
  4. Preheat traditional love letter mold over gas stove on high heat for a few minutes. Then turn heat down to medium low (mark 4-5 on my stove). Brush the mold plates with a little oil. Spoon 1 tbsp of batter to the center of the mold and quickly swirl around with the back of a spoon. Carefully close and lock the mold. Cook on the stove until it is golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Each stove is different so you have to experiment the first few love letters to adjust the stove heat.
  5. Remove from the mold plate with a small knife. Then quickly roll up love letters or fold it in quarters. This has to be done fast while it it still hot as it will harden and turn crispy very quickly (and this is why I folded instead of rolling up). Cool completely before storing in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Be sure the mold is preheated well or the love letters may stick onto the mold.
  • Stir the batter each time before pouring it onto the mold plate.
  • After adding batter to the mold plate, pay attention when closing and locking the mold– my experience is that if I close it too fast, the fast closing action will create a gasp of air that will squeeze out batter through the tiny gap between the two mold plates. If I close the mold a bit slowly then its not as bad. This is also why i don’t swirl the batter to the edge, giving it some room just in case the batter got squeezed out a little.
  • Use a small knife to scrap off any leaked batter around the outside of the mold.
  • If using two molds at the same time, pay close attention to the timing of each mold while cooking. When love letters starts browsing, they get very brown fast.
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These are traditional love letter molds that I used. I did it over my gas stove.

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Reminder to self: stove heat is between mark 4-5.

 

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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

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.