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Category: Sweets (page 1 of 4)

I got a cast-iron skillet pan so I must make Dutch baby pancake

After thinking for a very long time (a few years to be exact), I decided to invest on a cast-iron skillet pan. I went off to my favourite vintage cookware store (sorry, ain’t going to reveal the name and location of the store) and picked up a 9” Le Creuset skillet pan.

I brought along my friend, Biona who knows quite a far bit about cast-iron cookware and advised me to get one either with a satin finish or an enamel finish. These finishing will save me pain when washing. I have chosen a 9” skillet pan as it is the preferred size in most recipes. In the end, I went home with a vintage, (lime) green satin finish skillet pan.

I can think of a lot of recipes that I want to test with my new pan – tarte tatin, skillet cake – but first I got to season the pan. Seasoning the pan is rather easy (if you got an enamel finish pan, there is no need to season it). Once the pan is seasoned, it may smell a bit rancid, and feel sticky but this is part and parcel of owning a cast-iron.

The first dish that I made with my cast-iron skillet pan is Dutch baby pancake. You can of course use any oven-proof dish/ pan or muffin tray. But there is something rustic and homey about using a cast-iron for this dish. Vanity aside, there is some science behind on why sometimes it is better to cook or bake with a cast-iron. Cast-iron pan retains heat very well hence allowing even cooking over the stove or in an oven. And because of this benefit, you want to gently warm up the pan. If you heat the pan aggressively, and lower the fire at a later stage, the cast-iron still retained the high heat and whatever you are cooking might get burned.

The Dutch baby pancake is like a puffed up soufflé pancake which is eggy and airy. It is pretty amazing to see it blossom in the oven. Because the pancake is rather sweet, you do not really need to dose it with maple syrup. I had it simply with salted butter and a squirt of lemon juice. It makes a beautiful breakfast or lunch or dinner.

Dutch baby pancake
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
1)      30g unsalted butter, room temperature
2)      3 large eggs
3)      188ml (¾ cup) whole milk
4)      60g all-purpose flour
5)      ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (table salt is fine)
6)      ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
7)      40g granulated sugar

Methods
-        Preheat the oven to 220oC.
-        Using a 9” cast-iron skillet (or any similar size oven-proof pan), add in the butter and melt it over medium heat. If the pan you are using cannot be used over open flame, just put the pan in the preheated oven and let the butter melt. Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven (if you continue to leave the melted butter in the oven, it might split and burn).
-        Using a whisk or an immersion blender or a blender, mix the eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla extract and sugar until the mixture is foamy. This will take around 1-2 minutes.
-        Pour the batter into the skillet and bake until the pancake is puffed and lightly browned. I preferred my pancake to be gooey in the middle so I do tend to under-bake. This usually takes around 15 minutes. If you prefer your pancake to be more well-done, leave it in for another 5 minutes.
-        Once done, remove the skillet from the oven and serve the pancake immediately. Do not be surprised that the pancake will almost immediately collapse once removed from the oven.
-        To serve, sprinkle icing sugar with butter and wedges of lemon.

Bite-size treats: pâte à choux

Ever since I conquered my fear of making choux pastry, I bravely moved forward and made my first attempt at pâte à choux aka cream puff. I adore cream puffs – they are like little nuggets that are simple in flavour yet every bit delicious. And whatever sizes they come in, I love them all – the smaller ones, you can pop them in your mouth like tic-tac while the bigger ones will tend to leave cream all over my mouth (which I don’t see it as a bad thing).

Another reason that I dragged making cream puff is the pastry cream (that is needed to fill the pâte à choux). This is the time where knowledge does not work to my advantage. After hearing horror kitchen stories, watching enough food channels, I uncovered how easy it was to burn/ overcook the pastry cream. With this fear, my pastry cream always turns out to be runny. And piping runny pastry cream into pâte à choux is a nightmare. Oh yah, I hate piping too. I never know how much cream to pipe into each puff.

To banish this nightmare, I eliminate piping the cream into the puff. Instead I sliced the top of the puff and spoon in the cream. In this way, no matter what state my pastry cream is, I know it will make it into the puff.

Pâte à Choux
(Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert)
The key to making pâte à choux without any drama or panic is to get all your ingredients in place (mise-en-place) and measured in precision. This also means getting your baking tray lined and spoon ready to scoop the batter. In this way, making cream puff will be more an assembling job.

Makes about 25-30 pastries

Ingredients
1)      1 cup water (250ml)
2)      115g unsalted butter, cubed
3)      2 teaspoon granulated sugar
4)      ½ teaspoon (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)
5)      140g all-purpose flour
6)      4 large eggs (the egg should weigh 54g-56g without shell)

Methods
-        Preheat the oven to 220oC and line a baking tray with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
-        In a medium-sized saucepan, add in the water, butter, sugar and salt. At this point, place the flour near the stove as you will need to add it in once the mixture comes to a boil. On a medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it occasionally with a spatula to help the butter to melt.
-        Once the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil, quickly add in the all-purpose flour and stir rapidly with the spatula. Keep stirring until the mixture forms a smooth and thick paste and begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
-        Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using the same spatula, you can pat down and spread the paste to help it cool faster – do this a few times for 2 minutes.
-        Using a spatula, vigorously beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding in the next one. You can use a stand-mixer (with a paddle attachment) for this step but I think it is unnecessary as you are just loading more things to wash. Unless you are doubling the recipe, you can easily accomplish this step by hand.
-        Using a levered ice-cream/ cookie scoop (mine is a 2 teaspoons scoop), place the paste on the lined baking tray – each puff needs to be 3” apart. You need to give sufficient space in between each puff as they will triple in size once they are in the oven.
-        Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on the size of your puff) or until they are golden brown. You can rotate your tray after 15 minutes to ensure the puffs are browned on top and sides.
-        Once baked, remove the tray from the oven. Using a paring knife, gently poke one side of the puff to release its steam and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
-        Once cooled, you can fill the puff with pastry cream* or whipped cream.
-        To fill in the pastry cream, slice the top of the puff horizontally (I usually use a serrated knife). Do not slice all the way through so that you have a “lid”. Using a teaspoon, scoop in 2 teaspoons of pastry cream/ whipped cream into the puff – the amount of cream should be in proportion with the size of the puff. You also need to be careful and not overfill the puff with cream as it might make it soggy.
-        Before serving, if you bother, sieve some icing sugar on top of the puff.

*If you are using the King Arthur Flour’s pastry cream recipe, you need to double the recipe.

Eat your fruits: apple crumble

I don’t like to eat “common” fruits. I am not trying to be a difficult eater. My theory is that there are so many different types of fruits, why are we restricting ourselves to just apples, pears and oranges (my definition of common fruits in my part of the world). In addition, my parents fed me with these fruits for a good decade – I am sick of them.

However on a rare occasion, I will hit jackpot and discover a variety of apples or oranges that I have yet to try. I was shopping for the ingredients for my apple crumble that I uncovered Italian Modi® apples*.

I almost gave this apple a miss as it looks exactly like a Red Delicious (which by the way is the worst apple on Earth). I gave the apple a sniff and it smell good. While some people pinch and poke fruits to test its freshness, for me is smell. If the fruit exudes a strong fruity smell, I know it will be good. Modi apples are a cross breed between Liberty and Gala apples. Hence they are sweet, crisp and juicy which are the traits of Liberty and Gala. The flesh of Modi apple startled me – it is yellow. I always associate yellow flesh with mushiness. But it was not mushy at all. And I quite like the sweet and subtle tart flavour. I thought this will be a great addition to my apple crumble.

For my apple crumble, I like to use a combination of eating and cooking (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious) apples. In this way, you get bits of soft fruits yet with a bite.  Furthermore cooking apples tend to be really sharp so adding apples like Modi helps to counter-balance the tartness. The beauty of the crumble is that you can use any leftover fruits (aka the forgotten fruits in that dark corner of your fridge), and you can prep the ingredients and bake when it is time to serve.

The end result is you will get juicy plump fruits topped with crisp crumble. Depending on the fruits you used, you will also a hint of sourness to cut through the richness of the brown sugar caramel. Making apple crumble is also a great way to get kids or adults who don’t like fruits to include them in their diets.

Apple crumble
I like to add nuts like walnuts, pecans in my crumble for crunch and flavour. If you have nuts allergic, you can easily omit them. It will not impact the flavour greatly.

Serves 4 people

Ingredients
Apple filling
1)      450g-488g apples (This is about 3 apples. I used the ratio of 2:1 – 2 Granny Smith apples to 1 Modi apple; you can use Golden Delicious but I find them at times mushy and expensive.)
2)      1 tablespoon lemon juice (slightly less than half a lemon)
3)      30ml apple cider/ apple juice (2 tablespoons)
4)      15g unsalted butter, melted
5)      20g all-purpose flour
6)      30g brown sugar
7)      ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
8)      A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
9)      A pinch of (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)

Crumble
1)      60g old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking ones)
2)      40g walnuts or pecans, roasted and chopped (¼ cup)
3)      30g all-purpose flour
4)      ¼ teaspoon (kosher) salt (table salt is fine)
5)      ¼ baking powder
6)      30g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
7)      30g brown sugar

Methods
Apple filling
-        In a medium-sized bowl, mix in the dry ingredients – flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using) and salt, and set aside.
-        In a large bowl, pour in the lemon juice and set aside.
-        Prep the apples – peel, core, quarter and halve each quarter in wedges. Chopped the wedges into 0.5” chunks. Put the chunks of apple into the bowl of lemon juice. This will prevent the oxidation of the apples.
-        Add in the melted butter, apple cider (or apple juice) and the dry ingredients mix in the large bowl of chopped apples, and mix well. Make sure every piece of the chopped apple is coated with the thick brown sugar syrup. Once this is done, cover it with a tea towel or cling film, and put the bowl in the fridge to rest while you prepare the crumble.

Crumble
-        Preheat the oven to 180oC.
-        In a large bowl, except the butter, add in all the ingredients and mix well. Once mixed, add in the butter.
-        Using either your fingers (make sure they are clean and dry) or pastry blender, rub the butter in the dry ingredients. I like to use my fingers as I can break down any lumps by rubbing it against both hands. It is important not to overwork the mix as it may clump up especially when the butter starts to soften.
-        Once the butter is rubbed in, set the crumble aside. Don’t be overly concern if you have small bits of lumps.

Assemble
-        Butter a 7” baking loaf pan** – in my case, I used a 7” oval-shaped casserole dish. You can use any oven proof pan – you just need to make sure it can contain the apple crumble and fill it to the brim.
-        Remove the apple filling from the fridge and give it a good mix. Add the apple filling into the casserole dish, make sure to pack the apples as tightly as you can. Remember to add in any remaining syrup in the bowl into the casserole dish.
-        Once the apple filling is added in, sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of the apple filling. If you spot any gaps in between the apples, fill it with the crumble. Make sure the crumble is packed tightly – you may want to gently pat it down. An important note – you need to ensure the sides of the casserole dish are sealed with crumble – this is to prevent any liquid from bubbling to the surface and leave you with a soggy crumble.
-        Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes – the crumble should be golden brown and crisp.
-        Once done, remove from the oven to cool slightly. Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or custard.

*Modi apple is pretty pricey. When I bought it from Cold Storage, it was $0.95 an apple. This apple is only available from September to May, so go grab some.
**A little trick – I used my casserole dish to melt the butter needed for the apple filling (in the oven over the low temperature of 100oC). After you have poured the melted butter in the filling, there is always a bit of leftover in the dish. Using a paper towel or hand (make sure the dish is cooled), wipe the leftover melted butter all over the dish. In this way, you do not need to wash an additional pan and you get to butter your dish.

King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart

I hate pies and tarts. Rather I hate making them. I do love the process of getting the crust done – the rubbing of butter into the flour (oh and it’s good for your skin too), getting the dough together. However I drag when it is time to roll the dough. Firstly, I don’t have a huge workspace to roll out the dough (size of a chopping board). And the weather in Singapore is not helping – the kitchen tends to be humid which is nightmare when rolling out high fat content dough. The final process of placing the rolled out dough into the pan is nerve wrecking. I always make sure I have some leftover dough so I can do some patchwork.

When my food stylist friend B gave me punnets of fresh berries, I needed to figure out what to do with them. The berries were juicy and sweet – I could just pop them in my mouth non-stop. But she has given me so much and I need to use them fast (raspberries and blackberries really don’t last long in the fridge). I don’t want to make jam. So my only solution – a tart.

I flipped through a couple of cookbooks – some of the recipes just scared me. And finally, I settled on King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart. I am a huge fan of KAF – the day I found out that Singapore is selling KAF’s flour could be the happiest day of my life. King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion is also my best friend. This is one cookbook I can rely on for easy to follow recipes – savoury or sweet.

I am not going to kid you that making this tart was easy. I was glad it didn’t give me a heart attack. There were moments where I thought this tart was not going to make it. After I blind baked the tart, part of the parchment paper was stuck on it (I might have gone overzealous with my pie weight), and I needed to do some “emergency” patchwork (note: always keep the leftover dough). And when I remove the tart tin, and my crust was intact, I almost cry (the trick is be brave and be swift in removing the tin). This was one scary tart.

However as I started to assemble the tart – spreading the pastry cream, putting the berries on top and seeing how pretty the tart is – my risen blood pressure just went down. When I brought the tart to my friends’ office, everyone was going “wow” and everything was demolished. No crumbs no cream was left.

King Arthur Flour’s berry cream tart
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion)
There are two major component to this tart – pâte sucrée (which is a sweet pastry that falls between a piecrust and a cookie) and pastry cream. I would suggest that you make pâte sucrée first as the dough needs some time to rest. While it is resting, you can work on the pastry cream. I believed the key to making a good pie or tart is courage. It is not about whether you have the skills to roll out the dough in that perfect round shape. It is about taking that first step to make everything from scratch, and brave enough to attempt.

Make one 9”-10” tart

Pâte Sucrée
Ingredients
1)      150g pastry or all-purpose flour (I like to use half and half – pastry flour helps to achieve that crumbly texture)
2)      1 teaspoon malt milk powder (Horlicks) (optional)
3)      40g caster sugar
4)      ¼ teaspoon salt
5)      115g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
6)      1 large egg yolk
7)      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8)      1 tablespoon of (iced) water

Methods
-        In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, malt milk powder, sugar and salt together. Rub in the cubed butter till you almost achieve a sandy texture.  At this stage, I don’t want my mixture to be too sandy – I actually quite like it if there are some lumps of butter.
-        In a measuring cup or a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and water together.
-        Add in the vanilla extract into the flour mixture – you can either mix it with your hand or with a fork.
-        Slowly pour in the water and egg mixture into the flour mixture. Do not add everything into the mixture. You might not need that much liquid. The dough should be crumbly yet hold together when squeezed tightly.
-        Wrap the finished dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour before you roll the dough out.
-        Once rested, remove the dough from fridge and let it set to the room temperature for a few minutes before you roll it out.
-        Preheat the oven to 190oC.
-        Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ensuring that it is able to cover the tart pan. Once the pan is covered with the dough, roll out or cut off the excess dough. Do not throw away the excess dough, you might need to cover up any patches.
-        Prick the pie crust all over with a fork.
-        To prepare a blind-baked, ready to fill crust, weigh down the pie crust by lining it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights.
-        Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is set.
-        Gently remove the weights and parchment paper, and return to the oven to bake for another 6-8 minutes, until golden brown. If you are as careless as me (yay), and some of the pie crust is stuck to the parchment, use some of the excess dough, flatten it as thin as possible and patch up any holes.
-        Remove the tart from the oven and cool before releasing the tin and filling it with cream.

Berry cream tart
Ingredients
Pastry cream filling
1)      40g granulated sugar
2)      1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3)      2 teaspoon cornstarch
4)      ¼ teaspoon salt
5)      1 large egg
6)      1 cup milk
7)      42g unsalted butter, softened
8)      ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1)      570g of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (you can also use sliced strawberries)

Glaze
1)      ½ cup apricot jam, melted and strained

Methods
Pastry cream
-        In a heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and egg together.
-        In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking continually to make everything smooth.
-        Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return to heat and bring back to a boil.
-        Stir constantly with your whisk – the mixture will thicken quickly and whisking will help to prevent it from getting lumpy.
-        Once the pastry cream boil in the centre or what I like to call burp in the middle of the saucepan, remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
-        Pour the pastry cream in a bowl and place a plastic wrap on the surface to prevent skin from forming, refrigerate and use when needed. If you like, before you pour the cream into the bowl, you can pass it through a sieve. This will help to ensure a smoother pastry cream (and get rid any “scrambled egg”).
-        Once the tart is ready, pour the pastry cream into the tart shell. Using an offset spatula or a knife, gently smooth the surface of the tart.
-        Place the berries neatly on the tart. I did a few rows of blueberries, then a row of raspberries and a row of blackberries. Though I love a rustic tart, this is the one time I feel the need to be orderly and neat.
-        If you are not going to serve the tart immediately, add the glaze to keep the berries looking their best.

Glaze
-        Melt the apricot jam, thinning it with a little water if necessary. Strain or scoop out any solids.
-        Brush the glaze over the berries to seal the top of the tart.

Lara Ferroni’s baked cinnamon sugar doughnuts

When I was a kid, it was always a rare treat when my parents brought me to the confectionary – there were so many things to see and smell. Cakes were decorated with Doraemon, Hello Kitty, freshly baked buns from the oven and like any kids, my favourite was doughnuts on a stick.

I do not know who came up with this way of eating doughnut. Sugary cake bread on a stick means parents don’t have to worry the doughnut would fall onto the ground and the kids won’t get their hands dirty. It is genius.

Now as an adult, I will still go to Four Leaves and sneak in a pack of their sugary doughnuts and start munching on them. It just takes a few minutes and the whole packet is empty.

I have always wanted to make doughnuts. But I don’t want to fry them. I don’t want to mess up my kitchen and seeing all that oil goes to waste is such a shame. So I was very happy when my friend, Biona showed me a recipe on baked doughnuts by Lara Ferroni.

It is not difficult to make the dough as most of the work will be done by the stand mixer. The only thing you need to have is patience – waiting for the dough to rise can be quite torturing.

If you do not have a cookie cutter, you can use the rim of a jar and a shot glass or simply use a small glass (you don’t really need the hole in the middle). Do eat the doughnuts while they are warm – they are so light and fluffy, you need to have some self control and stop yourself from popping all of them into your mouth.

Baked cinnamon sugar doughnuts

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
(Adapted from Lara Ferroni’s Doughnuts)

Makes about 24 doughnuts

Ingredients
1)      1 small egg
2)      25g caster sugar
3)      ½ cup (120ml) whole milk, heated to 46oC
4)      1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
5)      ½ teaspoon salt
6)      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7)      250g – 300g all-purpose flour
8)      60g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

Toppings
1)      60g unsalted butter, melted
2)      100g caster sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Methods
-        In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended. This will take about 1 minute. Add in the warm milk, yeast, salt and vanilla extract and blend.
-        Reduce the speed of the stand mixer, slowly add in about 120g of flour and beat until the dough is thick and pulls away from the side. If the dough looks wet and sticky, add in more flour till thickened. This process will take awhile.
-        Switch the mixer to the dough hook. On medium speed, add in the cubed butter one at a time, and beat until no large chunks of butter are left at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry if you see bits of melted butter at the side of the bowl. Once we add in the remaining flour, everything will be incorporated.
-        Reduce the speed of the stand mixer and add in the rest of the flour bit by bit until the dough gathers around the hook and clean the side of the bowl. You might need less or more of the flour stated. Hence it will be good to standby some flour at a side.
-        The dough should be soft and moist but not overly sticky.
-        Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.
-        Lightly grease a mixing bowl.
-        Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size or about an hour.
-        Punch down the risen dough and roll out to ½” thick. With a doughnut cutter, cut out 3” diameter with 1” diameter hole (I used 3” and 1” cookie cutters).
-        Preheat the oven to 200oC and line the baking sheets with parchment.
-        Place the doughnuts 1” apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, let it sit in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size or about 20 minutes.
-        Bake until the doughnuts turned light golden brown – around 5-8 minutes. Be very careful not to over-bake the doughnuts. Over-bake doughnuts are hard and chewy.
-        Once the doughnuts are out from the oven, lightly dipped it in the melted butter and coat it with the cinnamon sugar. I like to use chopsticks for this. If you don’t have chopsticks, you can use a tongs.

Walters Mandler Chocolate Chip Cookies

During the Lunar New Year, my friend Evie who is based in Norway, brought me a lot of Norwegian chocolate. Anyone who been to Norway knows the must-buy souvenir is Freia chocolate. I rarely like milk chocolate but the ones Freia are sick good. My favourite is Walters Mandler.

Freia goodness!

Freia’s Walters Mandler is made up of milk chocolate and salted almonds. While you are chewing on the milk chocolate, you get the sudden hit of salt and the crunch from the nuts. This combination is lethally good. And this got me thinking if I could translate this into a cookie. The answer is yes and it is dead simple to do.

Salted hazelnuts?

All you need is your favourite chocolate chip cookies (CCC) recipe and some sea salt flake. My current favourite CCC recipe is from David Lebovitz. The recipeis simple and the best part is you don’t have to bake everything. You can keep some of the dough in the freezer and use it as and when the craving strikes.

Salt on cookie dough

Walters Mandler Chocolate Chip Cookies

Walters Mandler Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert)

I would like to thank David Lebovitz for answering my message on recipe sharing. I caught him at a bad time (he was (or is) moving house and I am grateful that he took the time to reply my message. Thanks David!

Makes about 48 cookies

Ingredients
1)      350g all-purpose flour
2)      ¾ teaspoon baking soda
3)      1/8 teaspoon of (kosher) salt or ¼ teaspoon of fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flake (and more for sprinkling)
4)      225g unsalted butter at room temperature
5)      190-200g brown sugar
6)      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7)      2 large eggs at room temperature
8)      225g nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnut*), toasted and coarsely chopped
9)      400g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 340g chocolate drops

Methods
-        In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda.
-        Using a stand (or hand mixer) with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla together at medium speed until smooth.
-        Add in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture, nuts and chocolate.
-        Once mixed, cover and keep the dough in fridge for at least 2 hours.
-        Divide the dough into the quarters. Line the work surface or a chopping board with cling wrap, and shape each quarter into a log about 23cm long and wrap it in cling wrap. Repeat the same for the remaining dough. Refrigerate until firm, preferably for 24 hours. I like to keep my dough in the freezer and use what I need.
-        Preheat the oven to 175oC and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
-        Slice the logs into discs of 2cm thick and place them 8cm apart on the prepared baking sheets. If the nuts or chips or dough crumbled out, push them back in. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt on top of the disc (I have not try putting (kosher) salt on top as I assumed it will just dissolve once baked).
-        Bake and rotate the baking sheet midway until the cookies are very lightly brown in the middle. This takes about 10 minutes. If you are using the dough directly from the freezer, you might need a longer baking time of 12-15 minutes**.
-        Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.
-        The dough can be kept in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for a month. The baked cookies will keep well in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

*To make the cookies saltier and stay true to the “Walters Mandler” style, you can use salted almonds.
**The baking time really depends on how you like your cookies. I tend to like them under-baked and chewy. What I do is I will put in one cookie in the oven, bake it until instructed time, cooled, and taste and see if I like the texture. From there, you can adjust the baking time accordingly.

Bill Granger’s butterscotch madeleines

I am a big fan of bills, Sydney, specifically Bill Granger. Last year, I got a copy of his cookbook, Bill’s Basics which gave a novice cook all the basic recipes. One of the recipes that I was drawn to was Butterscotch Madeleines*.

Butterscotch madeleines

I love madeleines – Dorie Greenspan got me hook onto them. However at times I don’t have the patience to let the batter sit overnight and Bill Granger version doesn’t require that.

The ingredients and methods were simple and easy to follow. Like Granger, I do urge you to get a madeleines mould**. They are not too difficult to find. I got mine from Phoon Huat, and I heard you might be able to get it from Daiso. And really the bakes look so pretty.

The signature “hump”

One of the keys to making Butterscotch Madeleines was to fill up the mould. I under-filled the first round, and I did not get the hump which was the signature of madeleines.

Present

I am quite stunned how fast it took to make the madeleines – around 30 minutes, including bake time. If you need something sweet and buttery and fast, go make some madeleines.

*For the caster sugar, I reduced it by half. For golden syrup, I preferred to use Lyle.
**At Phoon Huat, you can also get silicon madeleines mould. I got the small one and I don’t fancy it. The madeleines turned out pale which looked quite sad. I think metal or non-stick is still the way to go.

Blueberries galette

When you are given two punnets of blueberries, and you do not feel like making cakes, muffins or jam, you bake a pie. Actually a galette to be exact.

Off to the oven

Similar to a pie, a galette is a freeform round flaky tart. However it is more rustic (this means even if you have zero pastry skill, you can still make it look good and taste delicious) and easier to handle (no fitting of the dough in a tart tin, no blind baking).

To make a galette, you can use your favourite pie crust recipe (one pie crust will do). One of my personal favourites is from King Arthur Flour. However this time round, I decided to make a change and try out Delicious Day’s galette recipe*.

Blueberries galette

Who wants a slice?

The first thing I love about this recipe – it used all butter for fat. I shunned away from recipes that suggest the use of margarines (are you kidding me?) or shortening (they are absolutely disgusting). Nothing makes me happy than rubbing butter in flour – the smell of butter is heavenly.

And I cannot resist a change. I swopped half of the all-purpose flour for pastry flour. The reasons why I did it were a) I have pastry flour at home and b) I want to get an even flakier pastry.

The end result? The pastry was flaky and buttery. I think what makes a galette so awesome is the least amount of fuss, means reducing the possibility of overworking the dough and really you do not have to care so much about the shape. When I was rolling the dough, I didn’t get a proper round shape. When I fold it, everything worked out well. All you need to remember is to get the pastry as thin as possible (not paper thin of course).

This is one quick and easy dessert to make for any occasions.

*I used around 250g of blueberries – it will be okay to use around 300g. I did not use the whole full tablespoon of sugar as the berries were rather sweet. I would advise you to taste the fruit and decide the amount of sugar you want to sprinkle. Lastly, I wished I egg washed the pastry but as I did not want to waste an egg, I used milk instead – the result was not fantastic, only reasonable.

Jeni’s buckeye state ice cream

As much as I like to make my sweet treats from scratch, ice cream is something I don’t make that often.

Firstly, the sheer amount of egg yolks that go into the ice cream frightened me (cholesterol!), and I don’t know what to do with the remaining egg whites (I don’t like meringue). And the custard mixture. If there is anything that can give me a heart attack, it will be custard mixture. Boiling egg yolks and cream over the stovetop is not a fun matter – off the heat too early, the mixture is not exactly cooked and “sterile”; if we let the mixture boiled, the eggs might curdle.

Peanut butter, cream cheese and salt

I was grateful when I came across David Lebovitz’s entry on Jeni’s Chocolate Ice Cream. At last, an ice cream recipe that does not require eggs and yet delicious. Of course, I immediately stormed off to Kinokuniya to see if I can get a copy. It took me two tries and I finally got a copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

There were a few recipes that caught my eyes. But the one that I was interested to make was the Buckeye State Ice Cream. This ice cream mimicked the flavours of candy buckeye – peanut butter, honey and chocolate. Coincidentally, these are some of my favourite things to eat!

I will never in a million years thought of putting cream cheese and cornstarch in an ice cream recipe, providing the taste and texture that we love about ice cream. And the best thing about making this ice cream – I learnt something new – I now know how to make chocolate freckles.

Jeni’s Buckeye State Ice Cream

Because I don’t have an ice cream maker, when the mixture is really cold, I started swirling it (with one hand) and drizzled melted chocolate in it (with the other hand). Everything must be done fast as the chocolate solidified once it hit the cold ice cream mixture.

I made this ice cream three times. Every time, someone had a bite into it – they screamed yummy-ness. Seriously who don’t love peanut butter and chocolate?

Billy Law’s “best in show” rocky road

If you watched Season 3 of Masterchef Australia, Billy Law is a name that you will be familiar. He is not just your ordinary food blogger; dude can write, cook, bake and take awesome pictures.

Billy Law’s Rocky Road

During his time in Masterchef, Billy whipped up this delicious looking Rocky Road for one of the challenges. And this dessert won him a “Best in Show” ribbon. Billy recently put the recipe on his website and I got to try it – it’s so easy to make!

Happy plate = happy dessert

I love desserts that don’t require me to wash two big bowls, and a lot of prep bowls. And I did not even need to crank up the oven. I also think this particular Rocky Road will be a fun dessert for the kids to make too – it’s just mixing the ingredients, and they can lick up the bowl afterwards, and get chocolate high.

I love the richness of chocolate, and the tartness of the raspberries just cut through it. The addition of the raspberries was brilliant! I can definitely see this dessert making its way to my Christmas party.

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