Variations…

Variations of the same theme – black chocolate cake, strawberry frosting…

It all began when I had a lot of strawberry frosting left over.  I forgot that my recipe was for a 2-layer, 9-inch cake, and I had made a really small one for the little girl…

I stored the leftover frosting in the fridge.

The next day, early evening, hubby suddenly announces that we’re going somewhere later that evening and it would be nice if I brought something like something I baked.

Problem?  I had an hour to make something!

Solution?  Something that would mix in a flash, bake in a hurry, and cool almost instantly… mini cupcakes.  And I didn’t have to worry about the frosting since I already had the strawberry frosting in the fridge!

The batter mixed in 5 minutes.  The mini cupcakes were done in another 10 minutes.  I shoved them in the fridge to cool them.

Meanwhile I started re-whipping the frosting.  Except that I ended up with a curdled mess.  Then I started panicking.

Of course I went to trusty ol’ google, and there were lots of suggestions but I had no time!  Then, I decided to get in touch with an old cooking/baking “buddy”, crossing my fingers that she was online.

She was and she had a solution.  But I had to be content  with transforming my strawberry frosting into strawberry buttercream…

She had me pour hot water into a bowl that could fit a plate of butter cubes about 75 grams.  Throw the hot water out and wipe the damp inside of the bowl – cover the plate of butter cubes.  Trick worked!  Butter was soft in less than a minute!

Beat the butter until light and fluffy and add about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Beat some more.  Then gradually add the broken frosting – a tablespoon at a time… Voila!  Strawberry Buttercream!  A tad sweet than I preferred but it still works so –

And I still had a little strawberry buttercream left over!

The day after, hubby told me that it was the birthday of a friend and he requested a small cake to celebrate.

I baked another small chocolate cake – frosted it with truffle frosting and garnished it with what was left of the strawberry buttercream..

Until next year, when the little girl will surely ask for her favorite cake!

My next baking experiment?  Prune Chiffon Cake Roll (half roll, I mean).

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B’s Special Cake

When we ask the little girl what cake she wants, she always gives the same answer –

BLACK CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FROSTING

She is very particular too, she wants REAL strawberry frosting!

So, even if my right arm will hurt like *#&& the day after, I willingly suffer because it is what she wants on her special day.

The recipe for the black chocolate cake is a family secret – as it took me several months to get it just right!

The strawberry frosting is made with 450 grams of strawberries!!!  I experimented with the recipe for a long time, playing with the proportions until the little girl was satisfied.  She has a discriminating taste!

This year though I decided to make a few improvements…

Firstly, I made a smaller cake, a 7-inch, 3-layer round cake instead of the usual 9-inch, 2-layer round cake.  Then I added a special filling – dark choco-caramel filling.  Lastly, the finishing touch – the “My Little Pony” theme!

The finished cake was declared BEE-YOO-TEE-FOOOOL by the little girl.  And I am happy even if my arm is still and achy!

And the taste?  Whooooohooooo!  Everyone says it is sinfully delicious!

(happy, happy, happy me!)

Cashew Brittle Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hubby and I like the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day BUT we abhor the commercialism of it.  So we usually stay home – he gives me flowers and I make something special for dinner, or at the very least dessert.

So, I wanted to make something for my Valentine.  At the same time, I wanted to try and see if my little electric oven could bake a chiffon cake successfully.  Of course the cake could not be a big one, since the oven is small… and since I already knew that the top would have a tendency to “burn” I had to figure out what to do to prevent it.

First I had to choose a recipe.  All my recipes were for large tube pans and because the ratios were uneven it was very difficult to scale down even by half.  Not that I was any good in Math anyway!

So, I googled “small chiffon cake recipe” and the results were plenty… and a bit confusing… in any case I settled for this one, which I had to adapt and modify (just a little bit) because I didn’t want a coffee chiffon cake, I wanted a Dayap chiffon cake.  Dayap is the local lime.  It has a fantastic flavor and I had a difficult time finding it in the markets.  I finally found a couple of plants and after some time, managed to have reasonable harvests!!!

My modified recipe –

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh dayap juice
1/4 cup oil
7 tablespoons cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Prepare everything beforehand – preheat the oven to 325*F, line a 6×4-inch round pan with greaseproof paper (I did not have a small tube pan), separate the eggs and prepare all other ingredients.

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until the mixture is full of bubbles.  Add sugar by tablespoon, and beat until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, mix the yolks, sugar, dayap juice, oil, flour and baking powder together until just mixed.  Fold into the egg white mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and “bang” the pan on the table once or twice to remove any big bubbles.  Bake…

Here is where it gets a bit tricky…

Within 10 minutes, my chiffon cake rose beautifully, but the top had cracked and was very very browned already.

So I switched the top heating off and moved the pan to the lower rack.  Another 20 to 25 minutes, the cake was done.  (The “black” lines correspond to the top heating element!)

Except that it got slightly deflated upon cooling…

But all is well that ends well, the cake was generally a success since hubby loved the texture!  It was a bit different from the usual chiffon cake that I make (an American recipe and a Filipino one),  Somehow it was a bit heftier but still soft and tender.

It might have been just a tad tart but with the sweet filling and caramel icing, as well as the cashew brittle garnishes, the tartness was somehow balanced.

I sliced the burnt top off, and halved the cake in the middle for the filling (to make it a 2 layer cake)

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetie!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I first made this about 5 years ago, during the Christmas season.  That time, one recipe made 2 5.5-inch cookie cakes that I gave away as Christmas gifts, or I make for friends who gave them away.  That time also, I would drizzle chocolate on top – it looked so much nicer.

But this time, I made a larger 8-inch cake and served it plain, without drizzled chocolate.  But I put in way more chocolate chips!!!

The recipe I based this cake on is the world famous Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

BUT…

(1.) I halved the recipe… AND reduced the sugar a tiny bit because –

(2.) I used 1-1/2 cups of bittersweet chips for half a recipe (instead of just 1 cup)

(3.)  I spread the cookie dough in a buttered, then papered, then buttered again 8-inch round layer pan.

(4.) I baked it at 325*F for about 22-25 minutes (might have been a bit longer because I wanted a browned top.)

The cookie cake was for hubby’s friend, whose birthday was last December.  We only celebrate now due to the hectic Christmas season giving us no time to do so…

Despite being delayed, hubby’s friends loved it!

Corn Fritters

I love corn. And while the sweet Japanese variety is delicious, I love the local (or native) white corn even better. Especially when it is fresh and perfectly cooked. Sometimes though, there’s way too much corn on the cob for us to consume. And when that happens, corn fritters are my favorite “recycled” food…

I’ve made corn fritters before.

But this particular batch is different because I used… yes, you guessed it… native corn kernels shredded from their cobs.

The recipe is from this book – I bought it as a gift for BFF but I liked it so much that I bought another one for myself!

The recipe is on this page, but can also be found online.

Two questions came up after I made these corn fritters.  First, why use another recipe when I already had one?  And, second, why buy the book when the recipe can be found online?

Well, to answer the first question… I like trying new recipes… and the picture looked a lot better than what I used to make so why not? And I am glad I did because this batch of fritters looked better than my old ones! Although I did not faithfully follow the recipe (read on for what I did).

As for the second question… the answer is simple. I like books. So even with the ease and convenience of e-books, and even if I have virtually run out of bookshelf space, I will buy a book if it is worth it (and there are A LOT of books that are worth it!)

Anyway, for the changes that I did… basically I omitted the lime juice (hubby is not a fan of the sour taste) and substituted regular flour for the cornmeal (I didn’t have cornmeal!).  Also, instead of cayenne pepper, I used ground black pepper (at least about 1/2 teaspoon!)

Truth is, I like this fritter recipe better than my original one. So this one gets a permanent slot in my “book”! (pun intended) 🙂

Creamy Smoked Salmon Capellini

Hubby had a dinner appointment so I was on my own. The little girl and lola had their own thing going so I was really on my own…

As always when I am eating by myself, I don’t bother to cook. Sometimes I don’t bother to eat – call me lazy but it seems to me that cooking then washing and cleaning up after doesn’t seem to be worth the bother if I am the only one eating…

This time though, as I rifled through the fridge for something (I was thinking fruit actually), I saw several containers of leftovers – a 50ml container of smoked salmon (left over from hubby’s dinner the night before), a 500ml container of capellini and parsley (left over from our dinner 2 nights before), ricotta cheese tub with a fourth of ricotta left in it, sour cream tub with about 1/4 cup left, a small pat of butter (left over from chocolate chip cookie cake the week before), several pieces of shimenji mushrooms (I don’t even know WHY there’s leftover mushrooms!!!), fresh milk (not really that fresh since it’s been in the fridge at least 4 days!) and 2 pieces shriveled calamansi…

What a merry bunch of leftovers!

At first I thought of making leftover omelette – a favorite of ours and perfect for using any and all kinds of leftovers, except maybe the pasta….

So then it hit me… why not make leftover pasta instead?

Who would’ve thought that the leftovers in the fridge would make an elegant meal for one, especially paired with Chardonney, yep, leftover from last Christmas! (Thanks to our friend who gave it to us for Christmas!)

So here is the no-recipe recipe for my (lonely, but seriously change the ‘n’ to ‘v’) dinner for one –

1. Sauté some sliced onions in olive oil and (leftover) butter until the onions are softened.

2. Add the (leftover) mushrooms and stir-fry several seconds.

3. Add the (leftover) smoked salmon and mix to break the pieces apart.

4. Add the (leftover) sour cream and (leftover) ricotta cheese. Thin the mixture with (leftover) milk.

5. Add the (leftover) capellini; mix gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cook over low-medium heat just until everything is heated through. Transfer to your (lonely) dinner plate.

7. Sprinkle a drop or two of (not fresh, since they’re a bit shriveled) calamansi. Garnish with (leftover) parsley (and Parmesan – just about the ingredient that is NOT left over from anything). Pair with (leftover) Chardonnay. Sit and enjoy.

8. Post the dish online and revel when hubby’s jaw drops because you had a lovely dinner while he had ordinary food at his meeting!

(Yuuuuummmmmmmm!)

Choco Banana Choco-Mint Froyo, No Machine

It is not summer yet, but for some reason I was in the mood to make some ice cream… ah, frozen yogurt, I mean…

The little girl, who had been ill for the last several days, was excited.  Because she would be allowed to have some!

As usual, I preferred a no-machine method since my ice cream maker is in deep storage and I did not want to go into the storage area to look for it.  Besides, it would take another day or two to have it ready since it needs pre-freezing in the freezer…

So anyway, here is the recipe –

180 to 200 grams frozen banana
1/4 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa
200 grams greek style yogurt
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped softly

100 grams chopped peppermint flavored chocolate

Dump the frozen banana, condensed milk, cocoa, yogurt and vanilla into a blender and whiz until everything is mixed.  Fold into the softly whipped cream.

Place in a plastic container with a tight lid, then freeze for an hour.  Take it out and stir (mixture should still be liquid-y with the sides staring to freeze).  Freeze another hour and stir again (less liquid-y, sides more frozen.  Fold in chopped chocolate.  Repeat freezing and stirring 2 to 3 times more (this is to reduce iciness) then freeze until solid.

Enjoy!!!!!