Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dessert Recipe: Bon Anniversaire ChicGorgeous & Kiwi-Orange Creamsicles

Woo hoo.. for she's a jolly good fellow.. for she's a jolly good fellow.. for she's a jolly good fellow..[ya la..di..da!] Chic & Gorgeous Treats is now 1 years old. Wow.. has it been a year? Time is really flying. I keep saying this every single day. It just feel like the earth clock has speed up the time. Don't you?

It has been a lot of ups and down plus a couple of months I went MIA. It's because I was just tired and lost some of my motivation to up keep the blog. However, many thanks to my loyal blogger friends and personal friends for poking me left and right making sure I don't give up. That is something I value at heart and treasure most. So here's a shout out to Elisabeth from Food and Thrift Finds and Pei Li from Pei Li Miniatures, THANK YOU for constantly stopping by to check on me. As for new foodie friends, I'm glad that I've found you and in return that you've spread the word about me or stumble upon me. For once I know you guys and gals are reading and that made me want to write even more, sharing my views on tested recipes.

Now this post is deeply inspired by Stephanie from Desserts for Breakfast. I remembered sometime ago, I tagged Stephanie and she gave me a shout out at her blog too. I may not know her personally, but boy oh! boy her dessert making and photography skills is to die for, if I say so. I thought it would be fun to celebrate my blog anniversary with a twist. Instead of a cake or tart, I think it's more fun to serve creamsicles or ice lollies or ice cream in a matter of fact. For recipe click here as I think it's only rightful of me to link it back to Stephanie from Desserts for Breakfast. When I saw that orange and kiwi is involved, I knew I just had to make them as orange is my no.1 favourite juice and kiwi is packed with vitamins. Put them together, I bet we can conquer cough an cold anytime. And what can I say further? A PERFECT Summer treat. The balance of vanilla cream, kiwi and orange is refreshing, light and will sure have you asking for more.

I think I'm going to take a break now and enjoy licking my Kiwi-Orange Creamsicles! Yummmm.. YummmMMmm.

P/S: Do stay tune for the new Chic & Gorgeous Treats and I'm truly happy that I now have 30 followers. To the 30th follower, you made it happen too and I hope there will be more followers to come. So keep them coming and I will certainly do my best to write more interesting food topics ;)!!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baking Recipe: Peanut Butter & Jelly Doughnuts

It's now doughnut time.. What could be screaming in my head? Peanut Butter and Jelly of course. This was also another staple breakfast I had as a child. Looks like this week's gonna be a lot about dough huh? Yes.. I admit.. I really am addicted in kneading dough right now. Well of course we can always use the Kitchen Aid dough hook. But then... I don't know why I like giving myself more work. I do it manually.. Yup.. you got that right. I mix the batter with a wooden spoon etc. Bottom line, I really do enjoy getting my hands dirty.. doing all the work. It's sticky but at the end, you really get a soft, elastic and smooth dough. The feeling is FANTASTIC. Do try it some time to release some stress if needed ;).

This time round, the recipe is adapted from another fellow blogger who's also on FoodBuzz [drumrolls..] Recipe's from Lindsey at Gingerbread Bagels. How cute is that? In fact this was part of the Daring Baker's Challenge. Double fun!! I took on the challenge myself since I'm not part of the group. I cannot believe my eyes that I'm making doughnuts. I'm evolving.. Yeayyy!!

Okay, I think I wouldn't paste the recipe here, and would like to link it to Lindsey's blog instead. So for recipe, click here. However, I will not leave you empty handed, and would like to share a couple of tips or what I thought about the recipe.

Here goes ;):

  • Recipe yields slightly more than 2 dozens of small-medium size doughnuts. Refer photos above. I'm not a big fan of large treats, and that could probably explain why I always get more out of what the recipe calls for.
  • I made 20 medium doughnuts, and the remainder is a surprise. Will share with you more on that later on.
  • If using a wooden spoon to mix flour and yeast, that requires a little arm strength. Persevere, as you just need to make sure the mixture combines together. Flour your work surface and hands with adequate flour. Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes [usually close to 10 minutes] or until when is no longer sticky but elastic and smooth to touch. Work with a timer if that helps as I find that useful.
  • Make sure to always cover dough with damp cloth or I prefer a cling film wrapped tightly around the bowl and rest dough according to suggested time to allow it to rise.
  • If you do not have a cooking termometer, and not sure if oil is hot enough? Take a tiny rolled dough and drop it into the oil. If it sizzles and floats up, your oil is ready to go.
  • While frying the doughnuts, if you notice they are burning faster, turn down the heat. Then turn it back up if it cools down too much. I suggest fry 1 at a time. This way you can control how golden the doughnut turns out. Also it gives you enough room to take out the doughnut if it starts burning.
  • Taste your peanut butter filling. I don't really like my treats overly sweet, so I always keep it to a minimal amount of powdered sugar as suggested. Use a small knife to make a small hole in the doughnut, piping bag and a regular Wilton tip to pipe filling. Clean off excess filling so it does not spill out.
At the end, you will get a light crispy soft chewy doughnut [YummmmMmm..]. Enjoy!!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Baking Recipe: Tana Ramsay's Home-made Bagels

Tana Ramsay's Real Family Food cookbook, wife of the toughie Chef Gordon Ramsay. In my opinion, he swears too much and that's quite a turn off. However, I'm sure he's a reliable chef. Now this book is more on home cook meals. Really ideal for singles like me, family and friends as well as parents with young ones. There will be a recipe for everybody am sure.

As I'm drafting this post, my whole house is filled with the most intoxicating smell of bagels baking away in my oven. Gosh, you really have to try this.When I saw Tana's bagel recipe, I knew I had to try it out. Ever since I kneaded my pizza dough, I'm now more eager on kneading other form of breads. Having the bagel turn out perfect will be another sense of accomplishment.

Something to work on: Not make the hole in the middle of bagel bigger. I just had to even out the thickness of bagel and that made the hole bigger [sigh..]. Note to self on next time, just leave the bagel as it is . Should have listen to Tana's advise when she said and I quote after her " Resist perfection at this point or you'll go mad". I certainly can relate to that and am definitely going to make them again and make sure I improve my skill.

This is my first time trying out this bagel recipe. So if you have other true and tested recipe that you constantly turn too, feel free to share them here ;). The texture of bagel? Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Lovely.. Nothing beats a freshly baked bread from the ovens of your home. Enjoy!

Adapted from Tana Ramsay's Real Family Food
yields 10 bagels

Note: I made 5 plain bagels with just egg washed and another 5 sprinkled with some mixed herbs and grated Parmesan.

For the bagel:

3 tbsp dry yeast
2 tbsp caster sugar
125ml warm water
250ml warm milk
450g plain flour/ all purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

To prepare the bagel:

1. Put yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, milk and water in a bowl. Lightly whisk the yeast until it's dissolved. Place a side at a warm place for about 10-15 minutes until it begins to form bubbles.

2. Next in a large mixing bowl, add flour. salt, and the remaining of sugar. Create a well and pour yeast mixture into flour. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix flour and yeast mixture until well combine.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for another 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic whereby dough will no longer stick to your fingers.

4. Place dough into a large bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and stand in a warm place for approximately 1 hour until it has doubled up in size. Be careful to not leave it for too long. Otherwise it will form a hard crust on the top which stops the dough from rising.

5. Flour the work surface and turn out the dough. Knead it for another 1-2 minute and divide into 10 equal balls.

6. Lay parchment paper on baking tray. Using your thumb, make a hole in the middle of each ball and massagee into a bagel shape. The hole in the centre should be approximately 2.5cm/1 inch in diameter and there should be equal thickness in the edges all around.

7. Place rolled bagels on baking tray and  cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for another 20 minutes to allow it to rise again.

8. Preheat oven to 190 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit.

9. Bring a pot of water to a boil and lower bagels in batches into the water. Blanch them for about 1 minute, remove and place them back onto baking tray.

10. Brush top of bagel with some egg wash and sprinkle your desired seeds or herbs. Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown in colour. Transfer to a cooling rack. Bagel is best consumed within 2 days. Preheat it back in the microwave and you're set to go with your breakfast or lunch. Enjoy!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baking Recipe: Gerbera Daisy Cake (Dark Chocolate Cake with Light Mango Buttercream)

Gerbera Daisy cake? I think it's so pretty. Don't you? It is so pretty that I had to keep taking photos of this cake of mine [self gloating for one moment.. LOLS]. Gerbera daisy has always been one of my favourite flower. To me it has a sense of chic-ness and maybe adds some girly elements to it. Okay guys, I know this cake may not be macho enough but I dare say the flavour combination of the cake is good enough to make you melt over your knees.

I started out being really adventurous. I had this "smart" plan on decorating my cake, where I am going to melt chocolate etc.. Then the thought of washing up tons of utensils got me thinking again. Okay.. perhaps I was feeling a little lazy to frost the cream on my cake that I resulted by taking out out my piping bag and my trusty Wilton #104 tip and started piping like a manic person. However lazy I can be I am a person who's particular and every single thing I do has to be screaming perfection and just not mere perfection. It took me about 15-20 minutes or so and I was done! Now that's a time record breaking to me.

The cake is an ultra rich dark chocolate cake, where I 've used here, and here. This is a recipe I tested a couple of times and I assure you it has not fail me, other than just one time.. that one time I sort of miscalculated the amount of liquid. But hey.. who have not made a mistake in baking? All mistakes are forgivable. Just start again.. if time permits of course.

As for the frosting, it's a light, sweet and aromatic Mango Butter cream. You might think it's odd, but apparently it's not. There are quite a lot of dessert recipes out there where mango is paired with chocolate. So this is my own version of Mango Butter cream, as the challenge is to find a balance between the sweetness of mango flavour to merry the dark chocolate cake. Oh! as for the remainder cake which was sliced off since it gave me mountains on my cake, I thought it will be wasteful to throw them away. Instead, I made them into cake in a cup and paired it with some leftover Mango buttercream. Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!!


Note: Recipe for dark chocolate cake is not doubled in amount. That's the original ingredient measure. The recipe is perfect for a 6-inches, 4 layered round cake or 8-inches, 2 layered round cake or 10-inches, single layered square cake.

For ultra rich dark chocolate cake recipe, click here.

For mango butter cream:

Note: I made my own mango puree. Slice 2 mangoes, and process it in a food processor. No sugar required. Sieve it through a sieve and discard any lumps or fibre.

1 1/3 cup mango puree
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
2-3 tsp lemon juice

To prepare mango butter cream:

1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment attached on medium speed, whip butter and vegetable shortening until light and fluffy.

2. Slow down the speed, then add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar at a time then followed by another 1/4 cup until it totals up to 2 cups.

3. Add in the mango puree, vanilla extract and lemon juice and continue to mix at medium speed until mixture is well combined.

4. Crank up the mixer back to high speed and whip for another minute or so until frosting is light and fluffy.

5. Chill frosting in the fridge for about 15 minutes and then it's ready to use.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Cooking Recipe: Tangy Chili & Garlic Tiger Prawns Noodle

What's for dinner? Another spontaneous meal that I put together. I found some prawns, and french beans. And then an A-HA moment came along. I recalled reading Pierre's post on duck and scallop with yellow egg noodle and I thought .. "okay tonight's dinner will be significantly Chinese".

I decided that we are not having rice, so instead I will fry some prawns with chili, lime juice, lots of garlic, some shallots and pair it with a simple fried yellow egg noodle. There's a secret in the dish.. pssts.. come closer.. there's bacon. ;) LOLs..

The lime juice ties up the whole dish nicely. It has the perfect balance of heat, sourness and saltiness from bacon and natural sweetness from french beans, prawns and yellow egg noodle. Enjoy!!

yields 4-6 pax
Note: To marinade prawns, I always use my mom's basic recipe and it goes well with just any meat and poultry. Add some light soy sauce, couple dashes of sesame oil, white pepper, shaoxing wine and couple teaspoon of cornstarch. If possible, marinade a couple hours ahead or even better, marinade overnight.

For the tangy chili prawns

200g tiger prawns, deveined
5 cloves garlic, diced or finely chopped
3 shallots, sliced finely
1 medium red chili, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp Dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
1 lime, juiced
75g french beans, chopped into 2 cm lengths
dried chili flakes
6-8 streaky bacon, sliced into cubes
2 tbsp vegetable/canola/peanut oil
salt and pepper to taste

For fried yellow egg noodle:

1 1/2 packet yellow egg noodle
1 tbsp canola/vegetable/ peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, diced of finely chopped
1tbsp oyster or hoisin sauce
3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp light soy sauce
some white pepper
1 tsp caster sugar/ brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water

To prepare tangy chili prawns:

1. Fry streaky bacon without any oil until they are golden brown. Remove excess oil from wok or pan and leave about 2-3 tsp of bacon oil behind. Set bacon aside.

2. At this point, wok or pan will still be hot. Add the oil then fry garlic, onions and chili for few seconds until they are fragrant.

3. Then add the prawns, sherry or rice wine and the lime juice and stir fry until the prawns start to turn pink.

4. Add  the French beans and  bacon and mix together. When prawns have turned pink, season with a little salt, white pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Set aside.

To prepare fried yellow egg noodles:

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well  leaving out garlic and yellow egg noodles.

2. Heat a clean pan or wok, add oil and fry garlic for a couple seconds making sure they don't burn.

3. Immediately toss in yellow egg noodles and pour noodle mixture and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until noodles are evenly coated. Add a little water (2-3 tsp) if noodle is too try.

4. Lastly, add in the fried tangy prawn and mix it up with the noodle. Serve immediately.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Random Shot: Apricots in Summer

I think we need some break from some sweet goodies. Do you agree? Or not? I was looking for fruits in my fridge and at a corner of my eye, I discovered that I still had another packet of apricots left. What did I do with them? While I rarely cook or bake with apricots, I decided that probably I should give it a rest. And eat my plump juicy apricots as it is... fresh!! Yummm yumm. Before they were devoured, I played with them for a bit. Matching the peachy orange-y yellow with a light pastel mint green. I think it works. Do you?

What a perfect treat to the eyes and mind.. and filled with wholesome nutrients. Till then!!!

P/S: I'm thinking what's my next meal going to be ;P. Stay tune.. okay??


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baking Recipe: French Madeleines Coated in Dark Chocolate

Ever heard good things come in small packages? I believe it so. I do enjoy making desserts in bite sizes now. It may be a little more work, instead of just 1 time off; you got to repeat the process a couple times more.. but it's fun. The end result is satisfying. I really find a sense of accomplishment whenever it's decorated nicely. Not only look good, it's delish and baked to perfection  Also you don't only get 1 but a few more along the way. The right reason to have second helpings...LOLs.

I was extremely inspired by Pei Li's from Pei Li's Miniatures beautiful rustic tray that I thought the best perfect way to show off my little decadents in it will be French Madeleienes. The quintessential taste of Paris that screams chic and delightful. Whenever I crave for Madeleines, I stick to this true and tested recipe. It will give you a tiny little plump buttery soft and firm little cakes. For a switch up, pair them with your favourite jam. A perfect picnic treat or a gift. Bon Appetit!

adapted from Australian Delicious Magazine, Dec/ Jan 2007 edition

yields 22 average size madeleines

For madeleines

125g unsalted butter
125g plain or all purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
3 eggs
1-2 tsps pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar, to dust (optional)

For dark chocolate coating (optional)

150g chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1 tbsp golden syrup
50g unsalted butter

To prepare madeleines:

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat or using a heat proof bowl, melt butter in microwave for about 40 seconds or until melted..

2. Use about a tablespoon of butter to grease madeleine pan. Or if you have Wilton cake release, use that as it works too. If so reduce butter to 120 grams.

3. Sieve flour and baking powder in another bowl.

4. In a mixing bowl, place sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Gradually then whisk in flour mixture. Lastly using your whisk fold in melted butter and making sure to not over mix. Batter should have no lumps and ribony in texture. Cover with cling film wrap, to prevent skin from forming and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 Celsius. Using a piping bag, without any tip, pipe batter into each mould until 3/4 full. Bake for 8-10 minutes or golden and springy to touch. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes or so. Use a small knife to ease the madeleines out if you're not using a silicon mould.

To prepare dark chocolate coat:

1. In a heat proof bowl, combine chocolate, butter and golden syrup together and heat in microwave for about 1 minute if on medium heat or 40-35 seconds on high heat. Careful to not burn the chocolate. Stir it once a while to help the melting process.

2. Dip 1/4 of madeleine into chocolate and set it on a tray layered with parchment paper. Transfer to fridge to help chocolate set and thaw for about 15 minutes before serving.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Food Buzz Top 9: Jo's Veggie-ish Samosas is #6

Hoorahhhh.. [jumping with joy].. it may sound silly but I'm thrilled to received an e-mail from FoodBuzz editioral board informing me that I made it to Top 9: July 18, 2011. Woooo hoooooo..

Honestly, my post wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for you guys and gals of course in FoodBuzz who buzzed my post. I deeply appreciate it. I hope there will be more to come. Happy cooking and baking everyone!!

**It's indeed a memorable day to me and I would like to share it with you.


Dessert Recipe: Dark Chocolate Cherry Mousse Shots

Recently, I received a beautiful French rustic tray made from scratch by my dear friend Pei Li's Miniatures. Whilst I'm a little lost for words at the moment..I'm so in love with my new rustic tray right now that I want to picture all my treats whenever possible with it. Let me say this and this is a shout out to you Pei Li my dear friend..GREAT JOB, BEAUTIFUL and THANKS so much!!

While I know we both have "discussed", and that's a secret ;), I just couldn't wait and must use the tray this instant. Since my mom is having some of our family friends over, I decided to make my quick cheat, and a crowd favourite. It's my Dark Chocolate Cherry Mousse Shots. Now this mousse does not require you to whip egg whites etc. If you're in need of a quick fix or planning a love session..LOLs, try out this recipe.

CAUTION: Pretty sinful I might say ;p!!

yields 12 shot glasses

For dark chocolate mousse

1 1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tbsps powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-dark bittersweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 tbsps milk
12 dark cherries

To prepare chocolate mousse:

1. Melt chocolate chips and milk for about 1 minute in a microwave on medium heat. Do check on the chocolate and stir it once a while to prevent it from burning.

2. With a whisk attachment on the stand mixer, whisk whipping cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until stiff peaks. Set some aside for garnishing the top of chocolate mousse later.

3. Scoop a tablespoon of plain whipped cream into cooled melted chocolate, and mix them gently together. Using a spatula, fold in the remainder melted chocolate into the whipped cream until well combined. With 2 teaspoons, spoon chocolate mousse into each shot glass until 3/4 cups full.

4. Top chocolate mousse with plain whipped cream and garnished with dark cherry. You can always coat cherry with melted chocolate and set it in the fridge to help chocolate harden, then place it on top of mousse.

5. Transfer mousse back into fridge and chill for another 2 hours or so before serving.



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cooking Recipe: Jo's Veggie-ish Samosas

Lets see, how do I begin here. Jo's Veggie-ish Samosas slightly special because I'm cooking without a recipe. You could say I'm a risk taker since I like to pair flavours in my own hands not knowing if they work out well together. Or maybe..just maybe I should trust my own instincts and taste buds for once ;). Jo's Veggie-ish Samosa reminds me of my childhood. I had my very first samosa while I was really young and that distinct taste just stayed in my head.

For my Saturday tea break mission? I will emulate or reproduce the flavours I once tasted. What I do know is that the filling has to be some what of strong flavour to balance off the buttery, light and crisp wrap.

As you probably already know, most samosas are deep fried. While I'm not a big fan of frying so I took a different approach. I decided to bake my samosas in a high heat hot oven. The effect and taste is exactly the same and if not tastier and crispy, minus some calories.. ;).. Enjoy!

yields 10 medium/large samosas

Note: If you need more samosas, fill each filo pastry with lesser filling. You should be able to get about 2 dozens of small samosas. You may also add frozen peas and some chopped cabbage if you like.

For the filling; cooking without a recipe

2 carrots, cut evenly small cubes
2 Russet potatoes, cut even small cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 can chick peas
2 tsps coriander powder
2 tsps cumin powder
3 tsps turmeric powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsps vegetable oil/ canola oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
white pepper, to taste

For the samosa wrap

filo pastry
1/4 salted butter, melted

To prepare samosa filling:

1. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Fry diced onion together with cumin, coriander and sprinkle a pinch of salt to prevent onion from burning. When herb is fragrant and onion is slightly translucent, toss in potatoes.

2. Fry potato until it turns slightly golden yellow, then add in carrots [This is where you also add in your peas and cabbage]. Next, add in turmeric and curry powder, lemon juice and light soy sauce. Fry potato, and carrots until they are medium soft.

3. Add chickpeas and lastly; sprinkle a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and add pepper and sugar to balance the flavours.

To assemble samosas:

Note: Each samosa wrap has about 4-5 layers of filo pastry. Make sure to cover extra filo pastry with a slightly damp cloth to prevent filo pastry from drying out.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees approx 177/180 Celsius and line baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Cut filo pastry length ways and then half of the length ways. You should get 4 triangles.

3. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons filling onto filo pastry; roughly 1 cm away from the edge of pastry and the corner nearest to you.

4. Fold in the left side then roll the pastry from the right end closest to you once; then roll over and over away from you into a little parcel. You will be able to tuck the ends into a gap. If not brush the edge with a little melted butter to seal and then place on baking tray

5. Brush the finished samosa with melted butter and repeat with all the remaining pastry and veggie filling.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cooking Recipe: Homemade Pizza Base and Sauce


All this while my greatest fear is handling a dough. The part I worry most is bringing the dough together during the kneading stage. Who agrees with me that they too fear of over kneading the dough or maybe not? Feel free to share your fears here too. 

As I was saying, I am definitely one person who has been putting off making bread or pizza dough from scratch for a long time even though I've always wanted to do so.

Fear no more and  I'm happy to announce that I've finally overcome my fear by kneading my very first pizza dough over the weekend. To my surprise, I enjoyed the entire process and my pizza dough was a success considering that I'm a novice baker or cook. So what I'm trying to say is if I CAN do it, you CAN too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Baking Recipe: Tiramisu Tarts

Ever heard of Tiramisu Tarts? I've always been a fan of tiramisu, the authentic Italian way. Well I know this may not be a conventional Tiramisu as usual; however it has elements of a tiramisu or perhaps some parts of it. Do forgive and not judge me as I'm not trying to change an authentic dessert. I'm one who loves my desserts the classic way. However, I do think it's fun to think outside the box once a while to make a dining experience pleasurable, fun and memorable. Also, if you're a 'health' conscious person or someone who loves sinful treats like I do, you might agree with me that we can't be eating cake every single week ;).

The Tiramisu Tart is a luscious bittersweet dark chocolate shell tart filled with aromatic espresso cream cheese filling and topped with Godiva pearls. I made them mini in size as these tarts are filled with strong flavours. I think this treat is perfect for both coffee and chocolate lovers and might appeal to Oreo cookie lovers too, since the shell taste a little like them. Enjoy!!

yields 24 mini tarts

Note: For the shell, I used dark cocoa powder and not the Dutch cocoa powder. You may substitute unsalted butter with salted butter; just remember to omit the salt if salted butter is used. Also if you do not have tart shell pans, don't fret it. Use your mini muffin or cupcake pans. It works like a charm.

For the ultra dark and semi-sweet tart shell

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract

To prepare tart shell:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, dark cocoa powder and vanilla extract until moist crumbs form (this may take up to approx1-2 minutes). To gage an idea, click here for photo.

2. Make sure to lightly grease pan with butter and sprinkle dark cocoa powder over the pan. Try to avoid sprinkling flour as you will get white spots on your tart shell once they are baked.

3. Transfer moist crumbs to a 2 dozen mini muffin or cupcake pan.

4. With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry measuring cup in cocoa powder, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm for about 10-15 minutes.

5. Using a form, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Let cool completely in pan before transferring on to wire rack, cake stand or platter.

For espresso cream cheese filling

Note: For the espresso, I used my own coffee maker. If you do not have one; mix 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder with  a 1/3 cup of hot or warm water if you like it strong. Set aside to cool. If kitchen's humidity level is high, and if it's summer like where I am all year round, do work with the air condition switched on. It helps to keep the filling cool and not turn runny.

125g philly cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsps espresso
1 tsp coffee liqueur (optional)
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/4 cup milk chocolate buttons
2 tbsps milk

To prepare espresso cream cheese filling:

1. With a whisk, whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer out to another clean bowl and set aside.

2. Switch to a paddle attachment on your stand mixer, and whipped cream cheese with powdered sugar, coffee liqueur (optional), and vanilla and espresso until well combined.

3. With a spatula gently fold in whipped cream until mixture is combined. Transfer to a piping bag, and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or more or until mixture is slightly thicker to piping consistency.

4. Melt chocolate buttons and milk in a microwave for about 35 seconds on medium high. Careful not to burn chocolate. Alternatively, you may heat up milk and pour over chocolate. With a spoon, stir chocolate once a while to help it melt. If melted chocolate is still slightly thick, add in milk 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Consistency should me medium thick and slightly runny or ribbon-ny. Lift up your teaspoon and if chocolate drizzles down smoothly, stop adding milk.

To assemble Tiramisu tarts:

1. With a teaspoon, coat tart's base with melted chocolate. Shake it a little to help chocolate coat even out.

2. Using a regular tip, pipe the espresso cream cheese filling until slightly over the tart shell. At this point with the filling chilled, you will be able to pipe simple swirls if you like.

3. Sprinkle some cocoa powder over each tart and chill tarts once more to allow filling to set in the fridge before serving.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Baking Recipe: More STRAWBERRIES..Strawberry Muffin

Oh, I hope you don't go oh! no..strawberries again o_0? It's funny how I can't seem to steer clear away from strawberries. I can't help it, it's one of my favourite berries..LOLs.

Actually, I had some left over fresh strawberries in the fridge, and since I was planning to pack some snack to the office, what better way to treat yourself to some healthier snack. Or least I try to think they are healthy.. Yes, I wouldn't buy a muffin as I find such joy to bake myself  Strawberry Muffins. All you got to do is pop it in a microwave oven, and pre-heat it for about 15 seconds or so and voila you will have a juicy fresh home baked warm muffin. Perfect to go with tea, milk or even coffee. Oh! since this recipe isn't exactly a super uber sweet strawberry muffin [yup.. I bolded it], you get to drizzle some honey and spread cream cheese over it. It's delish.. do try it sometime. Enjoy!

P/S: Just need a mixing bowl, spatula, some measuring spoons, a heat proof bowl and weighing scale. Minimal cleaning up ;). I've also tweaked the recipe by adding extra flavouring agents like our baking best friend" The Vanilla".

Recipe- adapted from BBC's Olive magazine

yields approx. 6-8 large muffins and 1 dozen medium sized muffins

For the strawberry muffins
100g  or 1/2 cups caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
250g or 2 1/4 cups all purporse flour
1 large egg
175ml or 2/3cups+ 1tbsp milk
75g butter or 1/3 cup butter, melted
150g or 1 cup strawberries, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar, to sprinkle (optional)

Note: Both salted and unsalted butter is fine. In this case, I had some unsalted butter in hand, so I used unsalted butter this time. If you do like to add some salt to the batter, 1/8 tsp of salt is sufficient.

To prepare strawberry muffins:

1. Preheat oven to 180C approx. 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners or grease them with a little butter and sprinkle some flour, if you do not have cupcake liners.

2. Sieve and combine sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl.

3. In a seperate mixing bowl, using a whisk lighly beat egg and milk together and stir in melted butter. With a fork or spatula, fold in siefted flour, sugar and baking powder. It does not need to be thoroughly mixed. A good muffin should have some lumps left in the batter.

4. Spoon muffin mixture into prepared muffin/cupcake pans and sprinkle some turbinado sugar (optional). Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or until the tops of muffin are golden brown in colour.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Baking Recipe: Chocolate and Strawberry Eclairs

As far I recalled since my childhood, my eyes would sparkle and lit up like twinkle lights whenever my mom brings home a box of chocolate eclairs. Ahhh...yes, I could still remember the smell of fresh pastry [of course, during that time, I wouldn't know what's choux pastry], taste of fresh cream and the ever bitter sweet chocolate glazed. Yumm... yummmmmmm... I think I alone could consume almost half a dozen of eclairs [do I sense eyes rolling?.. yes I was a greedy little girl, LOLs].

Over the weekend, I decided I will make some eclairs for tea break. Something to treat my parents. Oh! and also an excuse to blog about it ;p. Without further a due, I will jump straight in and share with you the recipe. Cause I'm sensing some oOOO.. ahhHHH.. [drools]. Do make the deliciously coated chocolate eclairs plumped up with fresh cream and I am sure you will not look back. Before you know it.. you might eat all of them before having the chance to serve these decadent treats to your family and friends.

yields approx. 24 bite sizes eclairs

Note: If you do substitute unsalted butter with salted butter, make sure to omit the salt required.

For the eclairs

125g / 1 cup plain flour, sifted
70g / 1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, at room temperature
250ml / 1cup warm water

To prepare profiterole:

1. Preheat Oven to 200º and lightly grease baking tray or lay tray with parchment paper.

2. Put the butter, salt and 250ml water into a saucepan and bring to boil. Stir occasionally. Add the flour into the boiling mixture. Reduce the heat to low, and then beat quickly with wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the side of the pan and forms a smooth ball.

3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool. Using electric beaters, beat in the eggs, one at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. When you lift up the beater, the mixture will form a deep V.

4. Pipe the mixture in length ways onto the prepared trays. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are puffed. Reduce the oven to 180º and bake for another 10 minutes until the puffs are golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

For fresh whipped cream

1 cup / 250ml thickened cream, chilled
8 tbsps powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To prepare whipped cream

1. With a wired whisk on a stand mixer, mix all ingredients and whisk until stiff peaks form. Make sure to not over whisk cream else it will turn into butter.

For chocolate glaze

1/4 cup semi-dark chocolate buttons/ chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate buttons/ chips
approx.4-5 tbsps of milk

1. In a microwavable heat proof bowl, melt chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk for about 2 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Do check on your chocolate constantly as they burn easily. Stir once a while to help the chocolate to melt.

2. While chocolate is still warm, with a teaspoon/ spatula; continue to stir the chocolate and add in the milk until mixture is fully combine and you get a slightly thick and runny consistency. This will be just right to coat the eclairs.

To assemble eclairs:

1. With a sharp knife, make small slits at the ends of the eclairs. Using a piping bag, pipe whipped cream into the eclairs. You could feel them fattening up so make sure to not over fill them as the cream will spill out.

2. Dip the eclairs into the chocolate top side facing down and set aside on a tray. You can either serve immediately or chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. And as for my own preference, I like my eclairs chilled.

3. For strawberry eclairs: Cut strawberries into small cubes. With a sharp knife, slit the top middle of the eclair carefully to not cut them into halves. Fill the eclair with chocolate glaze, followed by some whipped cream and top them with fresh strawberries. Chill and before serving dust some powdered sugar over the strawberry eclairs.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cooking Recipe: Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Spaghetti

I thought of having some fun, cooking something different and not with tomato puree or pesto. This may not be the conventional pasta dish; however I assure you it's full with flavour. It's light and smokey.

I had a friend coming over for lunch and the both of us were craving for some pasta. Instead of sharing with you some of my sweets, I like to steer away for a moment to share with you my lunch.

When I cooked this meal, I was thinking along the lines of fusion. Not quite sure what fusion is really all about but I think this dish certainly fits under the mixture of east meets west. Hence, it's fusion in my brain.

For chicken lovers, you might enjoy this dish as much I did. However, please be warn that there isn't a specific recipe to be honest. It's a couple of flavours concoct in my head, and transcend into my dish. The flavours of the pasta and chicken marry really well together. A perfect union in my opinion. If you love the smokey taste of teriyaki, do read on and cook yourself a lovely meal. Enjoy!

approx. for 4 persons

Note: The amount of chicken specified is a rough estimation of consumption per pax. Please feel free to increase the amount of meat required. If you do so, make sure to increase the amount of marinade according to taste. Do not oil the griddle and always oil the meat. Also, make sure to rest grilled chicken fillets before slicing them. This will allow the juice to flow back into the meat. As for the amount of oil used for the spaghetti, that will be a rough estimation, as it depends on the amount of pasta you are cooking.

For teriyaki chicken

8 chicken fillets, or 4 chicken breasts slice into halves
6-8 tbsp Kikkoman Original teriyaki sauce
3-5 tsp honey
salt, to taste
black ground pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, diced
extra virgin olive oil

For spaghetti, aglio olio style

1/4-1/3 packet of spaghetti
4 tbsp, about 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp butter
5 tsps ground cumin
5 tsps ground coriander
1 red chili, seeded and sliced thinly
3 shallots, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp sugar, to taste
a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1tbsp red capsicum and tomato chutney/ relish (optional)

To prepare teriyaki chicken:

1. In a bowl, or zip lock bag, mix all ingredients together to marinade chicken. Rub marinade onto chicken fillet, set a side and leave it to rest. For better taste, marinade the day before or a couple hours earlier.

2. In a smaller separate bowl, mix extra terikayi sauce, honey and extra virgin olive oil. This will be used later to coat the chicken fillet while grilling.

3. With a griddle, grill one slice of chicken fillet at a time. Approximately 4 minutes of each side or grill chicken until it's fully cooked. Using a pastry brush, brush the extra prepared marinade mixture over chicken fillet. This will help caramelised the chicken and seal in the smokey teriyaki flavour.

4. Transfer grilled chicken to a plate to rest before slicing.

To prepare spaghetti:

1. Cook spaghetti according to the instructions stated behind the packet. Or in a deep pot, boil water and add in salt to the water. When water is boiling, toss in spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes. It should be al-dente. Strain away the water and pour some olive oil and drizzle some Worcestershire sauce over the spaghetti and mix it around. This will prevent the pasta from sticking.

2. In a separate pan, heat up extra virgin olive oil and butter together. This will prevent butter from burning. Cook cumin, coriander until they are fragrant (approx 1 min) and then immediately  toss in shallots, chili then followed by the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. If heat is too hot, it will burn the garlic; so do turn the heat down if required, while cooking all of the above.

3. Add in the tomato and red capsicum relish/ chutney and add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce. You should be able to see a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and from the tomato and red capsicum chutney/relish. Finish up by adding some salt, black pepper and sugar to balance off the flavours.

4. Turn the heat down and toss in the spaghetti. Give it a good mix and turn the heat back up and mix for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Serve while still warm and drizzle some of the teriyaki sauce from the chicken over the spaghetti, if you like.

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