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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oolong crispy cookies

I have been meaning to make tea cookies, tea dust and all, for a while now.   To pair tea leaves with butter, I prefer something astringent and Oolong comes close. It was a bit of work, grinding Chinese tealeaves but the end result was worth it.

My coffee grinder had a great workout because it was designed for heavier beans. The light tea leaves were lifted up above the blades and only yielded 30% dust. I was worried about the cookie having a gritty texture from the tea dust but it seems all worked well. If tea dust is not your cup of eh, tea, in cookies, try matcha  powder instead. It takes the mickey out of the processing and is less messy.

Makes 30-40 cookies, depending on the thickness of the dough.

50g fine sugar
75g unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 tsp oolong tea dust ( I ground it in a coffee grinder )
2 tablespoon of beaten egg
125g plain flour + 1 tbsp baking powder ( ½ tbsp recommended )
at least 4 sheets of baking sheets

Method :

Beat butter, sugar, salt and tea dust until light and creamy. 
Whisk in beaten egg .
Add flour and mix  until just combined.
Roll dough between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 2mm thick. I use a pot with a flat base to first flatten the dough before using the rolling pin.
Freeze dough until firm, 20 minutes.
Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies from the frozen sheet of dough.  Gathering the scraps, flatten and freeze it before repeating the step. 
Space cookies 1 cm apart on a lined baking tray.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Baked until golden, 13 minutes.
Remove cookie from the oven. Cool completely before using a spatula to lift them off the liner.

Keep the cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Raspberry molten chocolate cupcake

In life, some difficulties are real and some are perceived.  

In my youth, hurdles were an emotional challenge as well as a physical one ( I was and still is ahem, quite short ). They loom large as I raced towards them but I somehow managed to jump over them half the time. Of course there was the occasional injury where I swore I would stop trying. Even so, scars eventually heal but the glee of clearing those cumbersome hurdles never left me.

During this exam season, I would like to encourage those who face tremendous stress, coping with personal and family expectations to perform not to give up on themselves and to keep on trying. Now almost half a century old and with so many cobwebs in my foggy head, I have again hit the ‘books’ to appreciate how the little one is coping. There’s only this much tricks you can teach an old dog but struggling to move on makes me feel more alive than staying where I am.

For a very long time, I always thought lava cakes or such should be left to the experts. Besides, paying top dollars for such an item never fails to make me flinch.

To cut the long story short, I build upon my basic baking skills and finally crafted this in my kitchen. My heart swells with happiness knowing that days of costly lava cakes is over. I can now eat fresh. As for my friends who are not in the things of whisks and measuring cups, I am going to dazzle them with my newest works.

Between you and I, shall we keep it a secret that it is not as hard as it seems?

( Adapted from )

Makes 17 mini barely sweet cupcakes

Ingredients :

85g butter, softened
¼ cup fine sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
300 g plain chocolate, melted and left to cool
½ cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of fine salt

Method :

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until it is pale and fluffy, medium speed.
  3. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Batter will appear watery. It is fine if butter clumps at this stage.
  4. Whisk in melted chocolate, in 3 portions, until batter is velvety smooth.
  5. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Whisk until all components are well mixed and batter appears glossy.
  7. Spoon ¾ Tbsp of batter to the cup liner, add 2 whole raspberries, and cover with another spoonful of batter.
  8. Bake at 200C for 9 minutes. Eat warm with ice cream.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Steamed tapioca pudding ( ketuk ubi) and my golden ratio

I ran out of red dye and left it pandan green instead.

This snack will always transport me back to my primary school days. Long before Bengawan Solo, my mum would make this. With a flat grating board , she would grate the tapioca over a old beat up basin. Then , mixed with her ubiquitous red dye , she would steam the pudding over a huge wok. It would then be cut into bite size and tossed with grated coconut.

On school fairs, she would ‘contribute’ this pudding to raise funds. Since almost every mum could make this, it was never a popular item in school and I was always compelled to consume them. Mum never knew.

Fast forward a couple of decades, tapioca is so hard to come by. It is an irony that this staple consumed during the war , because rice was rare commodity , would  be so elusive in times of peace.

This pudding or kueh ( in Malay ) is made for old times’ sake, a tribute to mum’s labor of love.

Surprisingly, it is well received by my girl’s classmates who   never had this nor know what it is called.  But since discerning palates voted an ‘aye’ to this, all the years of eating leftover school fair ketuk ubi is forgotten.

To make a soft but yet manageable ketuk ubi or tapioca pudding, the ratio of grated tapioca to liquid and sugar is very important.

For optimum texture and sweetness, here is what I found out :

1 portion of tapioca : 0.21 portion of cream of coconut : 0.21 portion of water  ( in grams ).

Or , 1 portion of tapioca : 0.42 portion of liquid ( liquid = equal amounts of water and cream of coconut )

1 portion tapioca : 0.13 portion sugar  ( by weight )

Thus, as in this case :

312 g grated tapioca = 132g ( i.e. 312g x 0.42 ) liquid

The liquid component is made up of  66g water + 66g cream of coconut i.e. 132g liquid.

312g tapioca =  40g sugar ( i.e. 0.13 x 312g )

With this ratio, it will be a breeze scaling it for any amount of tapioca.

Makes 12 medium pieces.

Pudding ingredients :
312g grated tapioca
66g water
66g cream of coconut
1 drop food dye , any color
2 drops pandan paste

garnish :
1 cup grated coconut
1 tsp fine salt

Method :

1.    Mix the coconut and salt in a microwave safe bowl.
2.    Nuke for 1-2 minutes. Stir. Cool.
3.    Grate and process the tapioca to fine bits in a food processor.
4.    Add water, cream of coconut, dye and pandan paste.
5.    Stir well.
6.    Transfer the pudding component to a lightly oiled steaming dish. Steam for 45 minutes, uncovered.
7.    Leave to cool.
8.    Cut the pudding to size.
9.    Toss in the coconut.

Leftover pudding should be chilled and kept a maximum of 1 day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Caramel chip and walnut cupcake

Caramel chips and walnut is a clever combination.

I have put off baking for quite a while because everyone is on some kind of diet or other. But when I appeared at a social gathering recently with nothing but 2 boxes of diet-friendly strawberries, some of the folks were almost rummaging through the plastic bag looking for a hidden strawberry related baked food.

I looked sheepish after the second “ So, what did you bake today ?”

On the good side, I think my friends enjoyed my baking so some re-evaluation needs to be done. Luckily in this world of dieting folks, there are many who still wish to enjoy the good stuff.

I exercised moderation as shown in this tiniest of cupcakes. Each little snack always ends with the question, “Should I have another one since the last one did not amount to much”.

The caramel bits has echoes of my favorite biscoff lotus spread here and there. The small footprint of the tiny cupcake is inadequate to showcase the crunchy caramel bits  on the top ( should have taken this with the macro lens and make it into a cupcake specimen ) but trust me, together with the toasted walnut , it is one crunchy cupcake inside and out.

Sweet and crunchy in  a mouthful, what is not to like ?

Makes 18.

Ingredients :

120g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80g fine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

150g plain flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

120ml milk

½ cup caramel chips
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Method :

Preheat oven to 180C.

Cream butter, sugar until pale and light.
Whisk in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
Beat until the mixture is fluffy.
Combine items in B.
Sift in half of dry ingredients ( B ) and whisk.
Add milk. Whisk again.
Repeat the last 2 steps until batter is well mixed.
Fold in ( D ) chips and nuts.

Spoon batter to cupliners until ½ - ¾ full.
Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

Cake is ready when skewer comes out clean.
Cool well before storing.