Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chocolate Pecan Maple Tart

Happy Thanksgiving 2010. This year I am playing hostess to my cousin and her family from Pennsylvannia and I am pretty excited to see them again after 2 years. True to the saying, so near and yet so far! I planned my Thanksgiving Day dinner 3 weeks ago and built up a timetable schedule to tick along and off as I go and finally I am done! All 3 courses with varieties of at least 2 dishes each are all ready to be baked, cooked, roasted and plated. The only thing I pray for is that my oven does not go crazy and give up on the day itself. It will be my first time too doing the turkey and stuffing and to tell the truth, I am nervous. So much have been said on undercooked or overcooked bird, bland stuffing and so on. I hope mine turns out moist and good!

For dessert, I made this Chocolate Pecan Maple Tart and Chocolate Mousse cups served with Thin Orange biscuits. The tart's recipe was very easy to put together and despite the amount of maple sugar in it, the tart itself was not overly sweet as to overpower the palate but very fragrant. I made the tart crust from my previous Fig Tart recipe which fits an 8 inch tart pan. True, a slice is a calorie bomb and for those watching their diet, a small slice is enough if there is still room after the turkey. This tart is good with black coffee or tea and pecans are always lovely as they are plump and generous in every bite.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Coconut Vanilla Cupcakes

November sure goes by so fast that I can barely catch up! With Thanksgiving coming up and X'mas to ensue, I am gearing up for a busy holiday season with baking and cooking. With no travel plans this year, I have time to do some cookies baking to give away to my dear friends and of course, stuff my kids and Curry with more elaborate and sophisticated cooking. And also, hoping that the winter season will not be too brutal as to dampen my X'mas spirit.  December is a joyful month for me as I love the X'mas season atmosphere and to know that we have completed a year safely albeit with alot of challenges, I am thankful. But I am definitely not a winter weather enthusiast and only hope the early months of January and February quickly go by as quickly as we celebrate December.

Today, we had our first snow for this year. My kids were excited and I was too, for the simple reason it was light and for a little while only. And with the urge to bake something pretty, I was inspired to make this cupcake for tea today. The aroma of coconut is warm and exotic at the same time and remains one of my favorite flavor and ingredient. These cupcakes are made of coconut milk with the usual combination of flour, eggs and butter together with vanilla paste and dessicated coconut. I have totally given up on baking with vanilla essence as I find the taste evaporates and leaves nothing after every baking and taking the advice of the various chefs on cooking shows, I switched to vanilla paste which is more concentrated and contains vanilla beans speckles that I can see in my baked goods.

The coconut milk added extra fat to the cupcake and resulted in a very moist and soft texture that is neither crumbly nor dense but just lovely and light in the mouth. The unsweetened dessicated coconut which was added into the cake batter blended well with the texture of the cupcakes and added a flavorful bite. For the decoration part, I used a snowflake stencil and powdered the top part of the cupcakes with cocoa powder, followed by powdered sugar. As the cupcakes are light in color, the cocoa powder accentuated the white snowflake pattern. A very easy but simple touch to a delicious and moist cupcake.


Ingredients :
200g  All purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
110g Butter, Room Temperature
120g sugar
25g Dessicated coconut or unsweetened shredded coconut
3 eggs, Room Temperature
1 tsp Vanilla Paste
75ml Coconut Milk

Decoration: 2 tbsp powdered sugar
                    1 tbsp cocoa powder
                    Snowflake template

Method :
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners.
2) Beat the butter and sugar till light yellow and creamy.
3)In another bowl, beat all the eggs lightly. With the cake mixer on, add the beaten eggs into the butter mixture in batches and beat till blended. Add in the vanilla paste together with the dessicated coconut and combine.
4)Whisk the flour together with the salt and baking powder.
5)In alternate steps, fold 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter & egg mixture and then, add half of the coconut milk and blend. Continue with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then all the coconut milk and lastly fold in the remaining flour mixture. Fold in till no more streaks of flour is present.
6)Divide the batter equally into the lined muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 25mins and test for doneness.
7)Remove from oven and let the cupcakes stay in the muffin pans for 10 mins. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack. Decorate with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Makes : 10 cupcake.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peanut Rolls

I always had a passion for anything bread and ever since young I was known to my family as the "Bread person". And when I was overweight during the teen years, they said I ate too much buns and looked like one then! All the metaphorical description and after consuming store bought breads for years, now that I know how to make it, needless to say I make it almost everyday! Looking back, I made the most buns and breads this year alone, mostly Asian influenced and more easier to put together. One of my friends just commented to me that bread in the stores have been going up in prices and I realized that too. Of course there are cheaper versions, but the taste is always lacking. So far, I have been using one or two recipes to make all the breads and buns here and I love the versatility of the doughs to be sweet or savory. But I am looking forward to try out something more advanced than the usual white loaf in future, including the deli breads of Baguette and Italian Pane. Overall, it is such a great satisfaction to be able to bake my own bread!

For these peanut rolls, I used the same bread dough to make 2 designs. The filling is a mixture of crushed peanut with peanut butter, sugar and vegetable oil. Instead of butter and milk, I substituted vegetable oil and water which rendered the bread more structured and firmer on the outside when baked. I suspect this is because the lack of fat content in the recipe and when baked and exposed to a high heat of 400F, the outer layer is dried out faster while the inside is puffing up. Regardless, the inside is still soft and tuckly contained the peanut filling. For the rolled version, I just rolled up parts of the dough like Cinnamon rolls and arranged about 6 to 8 rolls in one loaf tin to bake.

Filling Recipe
200g peanut, toasted and crushed to coarse meal
2 tbsp sugar
2-1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vegetable oil

Mix all together and divide to 16 small rounds, to fill into each individual buns.