Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cranberry and Toasted Coconut Muffin

The Fall Season has so far been erratic. One day cold and the next two days warm, three days wet with rain and four days windy warm! Being first time single house owners, we have to put our inexperienced minds and hands to deal with plenty of foliage waste and it is like a forever task till the first snow comes and cover them all! I was pretty bumped that I missed the Cranberry Festival again this year when all we ever do on weekends now is laboring the lawn and slump in front of the TV at evenings, feeling exhausted and unmotivated!

Cranberry is in season now. These little ruby red gem sized fruit doesn't seem to be very popular in baking nor cooking except for making into sauce to pour over that Thanksgiving Turkey and being simmered and cooked into Jam. Due to its tart taste and rather bland eaten raw, additional amount of other ingredients like sugar and flavorings need to be added. I had a jar of dried shredded coconut sitting around and used it instead of the boring Vanilla to whip up these muffins. I grew up with the coconut flavor in every type of Malaysian food that I have tasted but my other half and sometimes kids too can find the nutty and milky combination a bit overpowering. Once baked, the coconut shreds gives a sweet and chewy texture to the muffin. If not in favor of coconut, it can be omitted totally and a streusel topping can substitute the topping.

250g All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
140g Sugar
100g Fresh Cranberries
2 Eggs
3 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup of Dried Coconut Shreds plus extra for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners. If not using, grease the muffin tin with butter. Spread out the coconut shred in a baking dish, pop it into the oven for 3 mins to get them lightly toasted. Remove and set aside.
2. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a fork in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat the eggs with the sugar together. Pour in the melted butter, Sour cream, fresh cranberries and 1/4 cup of the coconut shreds and fold in evenly.
4. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture bowl, stir and fold gently till all the flour is incorporated into the wet batter.
5. Use the 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into each paper liner, this will give an evenly spread and rise muffin once baked. Sprinkle the remaining coconut shreds on top of each muffin batter.
6. Bake for 25 mins or till done. Remove from oven and cool completely in muffin tin.
7. Keep in covered container if not eating immediately.

Makes 12 muffins

Monday, October 8, 2012

Green Tea Mousse Cheesecake

I have been in our new place for almost 2 months now. Amidst the many activities of my kids and the getting used to living in a bigger space, I am still very eager to try out new things with my baking and sewing. As I write here, plans are swirling in my mind on how to attempt the sewing of the Halloween costumes that my kids have requested and also the planning of another small dinner party for visiting guests this weekend. Exhaustion does get to me at times and I know it has reached its peak when I suddenly have an appetite for something rich and creamy.  Cheesecakes never fail me in this aspect and till today, I still love cheesecakes the best. I can make them everyday if I was born skinny.

For this recipe, I would recommend using full fat cream cheese despite myself using the lower fat content version. Sad to say, my weight conscious mind is very much intact and I try to continue adopting a low fat diet and remember very well on how hard it was for me to drop my sweat and excess fat on that overworked treadmill of mine 2 years ago! But hey, on the brighter side, I always get to eat more than one slice of a low fat cheesecake :). Having said so, only the full fat version will give you the ultimate great taste of a rich and authentic cheesecake and if you are the lucky ones, just use it!

This is the mousse type cheesecake, with a whipped light airy cream cheese layer over a thin sponge cake base. I do know some people who doesn't like the taste of mousse, as it might feel that you are eating foam rather than a cake. I made it even lighter with the use of low fat cream cheese and whipped cream. It will definitely turn out denser if full fat cream cheese is used. This cake depends highly on gelatine to hold its form and one thing I would like to note about using gelatine granules is that it should be dissolved in hot water just before it is ready to go into the cake batter. In previous uses, I noticed gelatine coagulates very quickly once it is dissolved and if not used while they are still in the dissolved watery form, bits and pieces of hardenend gelatine will exist in the mousse cake.

Sponge Cake Base
2 large eggs
50g sugar
50g all Purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp Vanilla Paste

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a round 8 inch/20cm cake tin with removable bottom.
2.Whisk the eggs. Add in sugar and beat till light.
3. Fold in the flour and lastly mix in the melted butter and vanilla paste.
4. Pour into cake tin and bake for 15 mins. Remove from oven and let the cake cool completely in the cake tin. Remove it from the cake tin and replace it back into the tin. This is to ensure that the completed cheesecake can be removed easily later.

Mousse & Cheese Layer
250ml Heavy Cream
450g Cream Cheese
4 large egg yolks
140g sugar
1 tbsp Cornflour
200ml Milk
1 tbsp Green Tea powder
1 envelope of Knox gelatine
3 tbsp Hot water

1. Whip the Heavy cream. Once whipped, return to fridge while preparing the other ingredients.
2. In another bowl, whip the cream cheese till it is light and creamy. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour till light. Set aside this and next do the milk.
4. Bring the Milk to a boil, slowly pour it into the egg mixture bowl, tempering it by whisking quickly to mix. This is the trickiest of the whole process, if the milk is poured in too fast, the eggs will cook and becomes scrambled egg and wasted.
5. Return this milk and egg mixture to the pot and keep stirring over low heat till it starts to thickens, like gravy. Remove immediately from the stove and slowly pour into the cream cheese and whisk to mix.
6. Dissolve the gelatine in the hot water and immediately pour into the cream cheese mixture to mix. Stir in the green tea powder.
7. Finally, fold the Whipped cream into the cheese and green tea mixture. Fold and do not stir.
8. Pour the batter onto the cooled sponge cake and level the mixture with a spatula. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
9. Slowly push the bottom of the cake tin to release the cake and place on a serving plate. Dust with green tea powder. For a clean cut, wipe the knife with a paper towel everytime you slice. 

Serves 6 to 8