Red Velvet Cake

I’ve gotten ambitious these few weeks and as a result, I have an overload of red velvet cake inside my fridge right now. To be honest, red velvet isn’t really my type of cake but this cake is so mysterious I got so immersed in researching. It’s interesting to know what flavor identifies red velvet cake because really, I don’t think many people aware of the fact that red velvet is actually the cousin of chocolate cake. The combination of cocoa powder, vanilla and the sour buttermilk is what makes the flavor in red velvet cake unique.

I’ve gotten more and more ambitious though and somehow I thought I could make a revolutionary red velvet cake with dragonfruit. I hate the fact that I need a lot of food coloring to make it as red. Beet is usually the good alternative but as I said, I just got so ambitious. I regret it though. The cake with dragonfruit turned kind of red, but there was too much moisture it couldn’t bake through all the way inside. I tried twice with dragonfruit and my conclusion was: never try to outsmart professionals. There is probably a good reason why you can’t find a red velvet cake recipe with dragonfruit in it.

Another conclusion: good and proper dessert isn’t made for health purpose anyway. This is my take on red velvet cake and it doesn’t require a dragonfruit.

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The base of red velvet cake is butter cake so creaming method is important step here. I apparently cream them too long and it affected the texture of my cake. Here is a good explanation on creaming method.

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I used yogurt and not buttermilk but you can substitute them 1:1

 

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Another important step is mixing the dry ingredients, especially the flour. Mix just until incorporated, a few lumps is okay because it’s better than having a hard tough cake.

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I think my oven was too hot. Should invest into a good thermometer.

Check your cake after about 45 minutes to see how the cake’s doing because you don’t want to overbake the cake. Insert a toothpick to check and if it comes out clean, it’s done. Even if there’s some cooked crumbs come out, it’s done, as long as it doesn’t come out still wet.

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See the gluey texture as the result of me over-creming.

Red velvet cake usually goes with cream cheese and I used this Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe for this cake, it tasted good.

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THE RECIPE

Yield: 2 of 9″ cake

Prep time: 1 hour

Baking time: 50-55 minutes


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Happy Easter!

A few weeks ago I attended a watercolor workshop with my friend. It was held in a very far place from my home but I went anyway despite my novice driving skill. I was so excited and I thought maybe after that workshop, I could make something like what those illustrators in instagram make. Turned out, I am still far from those awesome people in instagram even after the workshop. But no worries, because through the workshop, I learn to enjoy watercolor painting.

I used to hate to watercolor anything because it was really hard to control and sometimes it didn’t come out as I wanted to. Now, I love water color! It’s so pretty and it’s actually very fun. You don’t have to be perfect, don’t have to stay in line and you can do anything with it. So yeah, no big deal,  I’ll get the hang of it because I believe practice makes perfect 🙂

Here’s one for you:

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Earl Grey Chiffon Cake

March feels like it’s been going on forever now. Every week feels so long and never ending. I would think that today must be Thursday already and tomorrow would be Friday. The thing is, that thought occurs almost everyday to me that it feels like the torturing Thursday never ends and Friday never comes.

The good thing is, I was able to make some time to bake stuff despite my busy schedule. I even got help from my friend, The Blushing Rabbit, for the most dreadful task in the kitchen: separating egg whites and egg yolks. If there’s anything I hate the most about baking, it’s not the cleaning up part as what people usually complain, it’s separating eggs! I don’t mind cleaning up at all I even find it therapeutic sometimes, but oh my God do I have no patience for separating eggs. So, yeah, I was very pleased when my best friend offered me some help for that. That’s what friends are for, separating eggs when you can’t.

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Make sure there’s no even a trace of yolks or any kind of fat/water in the egg whites mixture or else the meringue won’t be possible. The meringue is very important for chiffon cake as it is the only leavening agent that can make your cake raise properly. It’s what makes chiffon cake, a chiffon cake. Airy, light and fluffy.

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Why you need chiffon cake pan to make chiffon cake? Because it allows you to invert the pan for cooling process. Chiffon cake is really delicate it can collapse because of its own weight. To solve that problem, let gravity helps you with that.

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While waiting for the cake to completely cool down, I like to do some coloring book. This one I got from my friends for birthday present is my current favorite. It’s The Time Chamber by Daria Song. Not only does it have beautiful and detailed artwork, it has a storyline as well. It makes me feel excited to finish each page and flip over to the next page to know what’s going to happen to the character.

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For more detailed information, troubleshooting, tips and tricks for making chiffon cake, I like to go to this website.

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RECIPE:

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I usually did my illustrations through digital art with my iPad but for this post, I manually did the illustration with water color and pen. It’s got different feeling but I am not sure which one is the best yet so I will probably keep experimenting with different media. If you have suggestions or preferences, do let me know!

Chocolate Cupcakes Experiment

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I believe that learning by doing is the best way of maturing. Especially for someone who lacks imagination like me, it is a bit too abstract to understand everything through textbooks. That is why, I am creating this space not just for me, but also for you (if there is anyone who actually reads this) to learn together in the quest for the best chocolate cupcakes (*dramatic music cue*).

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Here are some things that I learned through today’s cupcakes:

  • The batter was really just thin and watery. This might be why the cakes were really moist. (+)
  • I saw some chocolate clumps in my cakes. I researched and it is said that adding boiling water helps to dissolve the cocoa powder better. (-)
  • The cakes got some extreme domed tops. I’ve got a mixed feelings about this because technically, they look beautiful, but on the downside, it was hard to decorate the round top. (+/-)
  • I couldn’t detect any rum from my cakes. I knew it would be like this though. Volatile compounds usually get evaporated easily. (-)
  • This is not about the cake, but I still want to perfect this: my icing was also too runny!

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And here are some things that I’m gonna do for the next trial:

  • I will try adding hot coffee and cut the milk into half to compensate for the water. I’m afraid adding hot coffee on top of milk will turn my batter into just… chocolate liquid. Why hot coffee? Because it just sounds better than just plain boiling water. This is also the reason I add coffee powder in my recipe. It is said that coffee can enrich the chocolate flavor and I tend to agree on this matter.
  • I will not add rum to my batter. I will leave the rum to my icing, which doesn’t require any heat process.
  • I will distribute less batter in a cup for aesthetic purpose. I believe they’ll look prettier with shorter domed tops.
  • For the icing: I will not combine the mascarpone with meringue, but I will combine it with whipped cream instead. I will also add coffee powder for flavor experiment.

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That’s all from today’s experiment. I am hoping for better results in the next experiment.

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No Bake Green Tea Energy Balls

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Last Sunday was indeed Valentine’s Day, but instead of celebrating Valentine’s day, I visited my best friend’s house and just spent some girlfriends’ time.

Important facts to know about this particular friend of mine:

  • She LOVES the color green so much she practically eats all green stuff and says that it’s good (even though it may not necessarily be the truth)
  • She likes vegan/vegetarian/healthy stuff, but she isn’t a vegan or a vegetarian and is definitely not a sweet tooth
  • She doesn’t have a lot of patience

She was the one who made me create and do this recipe. I feel no regret though. It’s easy and fast to make, definitely healthy but surprisingly good, not too sweet and most importantly, it’s green.

To sum up this recipe: Dump anything you think is healthy, mix, then shape into little balls.

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First of all, about the green tea spread, I am NOT sponsored by anyone. I got this green tea spread from another friend and it’s called Frolic. The base of this green tea spread is peanut butter so if you don’t have the exact same thing, you can just use regular peanut butter and add more green tea powder and/or white chocolate chips according to your taste. I still add more peanut butter because at the time, I didn’t have enough Frolic.

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Note: Green tea powder is very bitter, use wisely according to your taste. Remember, a little goes a long way!

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The only thing to consider is what would be the binder and the body because otherwise, it will just become some gooey stuff or dry stuff that can’t be shaped. It will still be edible, but it won’t be as cute as chubby little balls you know. In this recipe, peanut butter and green tea spread act as both the binder and the body. Honey also helps to bind and hold everything together. Plus, honey tastes awesome. The rest just adds crunchiness and texture to the balls. You may change the dry ingredients with other dry ingredients you like (e.g. coconut flakes instead of rice krispies).

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More flavor can be achieved by adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract or if you’re like me, add a teaspoon of Bailey’s

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These green tea energy balls are perfect for quick breakfast, afternoon snacks or even dessert and I will definitely try experimenting it with more stuff in the future.

 

Nastar Macaron (Pineapple Tart Macaron)

Chinese new year will come in two days! As a Chinese, I sometimes feel happy because I get to celebrate new year twice. Not to mention all those red envelopes filled with money I can get *cha-ching*. Chinese new year also means that I can stuff my face with all those festive food. My mother would always tell me about the meanings behind every food served in Chinese new year, but let’s be real, the kid just wants to eat. As I grow up though, I find those meanings fascinating. They make me aware and appreciate the culture and heritage of my origin.

I don’t like pineapples as just fruits but I have a major love for nastar. I do feel nastar is a bit heavy though and that is why I thought the light texture of macaron shells might help me feel less guilty when eating them (yes, for those who think that macaron is just as guilty as other desserts, let me enlighten you: macaron shells are gluten free!).

Macarons though, are finicky to make and so, I ask my friend who is a legit patissier (shoutout to Bean!) to teach me. With the guidance of this talented patissier, I successfully made some pretty decent nastar macarons.

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THE SHELLS:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients (almond flour, icing sugar and salt) and put them into a food processor for softer and more fine texture, then sift into a bowl. You can skip this step if you don’t have a food processor and just sift the ingredients.
  2. Whip egg whites with hand mixer/stand mixer until double in volume, start adding the granulated sugar and then the yellow food coloring (don’t add too much or the batter will be runny). Continue whipping until the meringue is glossy and it reaches stiff peak (how to tell if the meringue reaches stiff peak?).IMG_3456
  3. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture into the meringue and fold until roughly combined (don’t fold it too much), add another 1/3 of the dry mixture and fold again until combined. After that, add the last 1/3, fold until fully combined and the batter resembles lava-like texture. NEVER fold vigorously, always be gentle with this baby. It is okay if you got some lumps in your batter.IMG_3458
  4. Transfer the batter into a piping bag with round tip. Pipe into lined tray (or use silipat if you have, it works wonder). To pipe the batter, try piping from 1 cm above the tray, pipe until the diameter you want and stop. But wait, don’t just lift the piping bag, make a coma-like gesture while lifting the piping bag away to avoid “nipples” on your macarons. It is still okay if you got “nipples” on the shells though. If you get the batter consistency right, the “nipples” should go down over time and your shells will be good.IMG_3470
  5. Tap the tray into a hard surface (like your table) a couple times in every direction to let the air come out.
  6. Rest the shells for 30 minutes or more until the outer shells are dry. Try touching it gently with your finger. If your finger doesn’t get the batter afterwards, the shells are ready to go.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven at 125 C for 20 minutes.IMG_3474

Macarons get better overnight so while waiting for tomorrow to come, make the PINEAPPLE JAM:

  1. Cut the pineapple into small pieces, put into a blender. You don’t have to blend it all the way, just until it is not too chunky.
  2. Put the blended pineapple into a nonstick pot, cook under low heat along with the cinnamon, cloves and salt.
  3. Cook for a few hours until thickens while stirring it once a while.IMG_3515
  4. If it reaches the consistency you want, turn off the heat and wait until the jam cools down.IMG_3516

After resting the macarons and the jam overnight in the fridge, you can assemble your macarons.

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Macarons are difficult to master. A little bit of over beat or under beat will turn your macarons into a catastrophe. Don’t give up if you fail in your first try because I failed the second time I made these nastar macarons. But I learn from every failure and let me give you this super helpful troubleshooting link.

Happy Chinese New Year all!

Easy Yogurt Pancake

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day they say. I admit I am one of those who always skip breakfast or just grab anything before hastily go to work. The reason is simply because I can’t be bothered to wake up earlier just for breakfast. Yes, I choose sleep over breakfast. On weekends though, I like to reward myself with pleasing breakfast experience no matter how late I wake up.

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes are my favorite dessert/breakfast menu. They’re easy, require little to no technique and the ingredients are usually available already in every household. The only thing I don’t usually have is buttermilk and so I substitute it with yogurt instead. They more or less have the same acidity needed by baking soda to raise the pancakes.

An aspiring friend of mine gave me some pineapples she harvested from her own farm and it gave me the idea to make a simple pineapple compote (I substituted orange juice with lemon water and I also added honey to it).

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Pineapple Compote in the making

Mixing the batter might be a challenge because yogurt is obviously thicker than buttermilk so the batter is also expected to be thicker. Adding 1/2 tbsp of milk/juice can help smoothen the batter. I added a little bit of the pineapple juice that came out when making the compote.

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Sugar, spice and everything nice
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Very thick batter

When the butter melts, I usually wipe it across the whole pan for more even distribution. It is important to gain the even brown color. Butter increases the heating temperature and if they’re not evenly spread, the browning will be faster in some parts thus the uneven color.

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Wait for the bubbles before flipping
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In this case, the heat from my stove was not even. Upper left corner of everything I make is always less brown, or is cooked slower.
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Mascarpone FTW

The toppings are surely the fun part. Anything can be thrown into the plate to be eaten with pancakes. Fruits are usually the healthier choice, others might like bacon more and some might not even bother to put anything at all. Be yourself, be creative and enjoy!

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