Pineapple Tarts for CNY

Yes, yes, I know.  I need to practice more to make the tart shells even and nice…

But I am happy to say that after several attempts, I finally found a tart shell/crust recipe that hubby (and the kid) likes!  The only problem?  It is a fragile one, and does not keep well!

More than that, I found a recipe for the pineapple filling that used weight!  Most of the recipes I found specified the number of pineapples to use and my problem with that is the varying sizes of pineapples!!!!

The recipe is from Bake for Happy Kids.  I scaled down the recipe because I was intending to make only a dozen or two at most.  Also, I grated the pineapple instead of using the food processor (the filling was very chunky, but as it turns out, hubby preferred it!).

Happy Chinese New Year (of the Earth Piggy)!

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Sunshine Peaches & Cream Cake

I made peach danish last weekend… and had some pastry cream and peach halves left over. Not wanting more peach danish, I decided to make cake!

While I already have a “perfect” vanilla cake recipe, decided to try a different recipe. Guess where I found it?

My friends know that I collect recipes and cookbooks. I like new, off the bookstore shelf books, as well as ebooks. But i also keep a lookout for nice pre-owned ones… this particular recipe for “vanilla cake” is a recipe written on paper that was stuck in between pages of a second-hand cookbook that I bought in a bazaar!

(recipe copied as written)

I thought this could be the perfect time to try it out! I wanted only a small cake, so I halved the recipe…

and then I discovered that I DID NOT have buttermilk! I thought of making the substitute of milk and vinegar, but realized that I had used up all my milk to make the pastry cream!!!!!! I was contemplating using plain water when my eyes chanced upon the syrup that was drained from the canned peaches! So I thought of using it (and maybe infusing the cake with a bit of peach flavor???) and reducing the sugar a bit (because the syrup is very sweet already).

My adapted, halved recipe –

1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tbsp vanilla (mine is homemade)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line and butter a 5×3-inch round pan.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix well, until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, rotate midway. Cool completely.

After the cake cooled completely, spread the pastry cream all over the top.

Slice 4 peach halves into quarters to make 8 pieces. Arrange the peach quarters around the edge of the pan (to look like petals or rays) then place a peach half in the center. Lightly brush the top with peach glaze (heat the peach syrup until reduced and thick).  (Someone suggested that it would be better to pour clear gelatin over the top in the style of Crema de Fruita…)

Chill and enjoy!!!

Peach Danish

I dream of food (truly!) and it is not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and scribble on my trusty cellphone the food ideas that I had dreamed of.  This peach danish was one such instance.

We had planned to serve cake for the kid’s piano teacher’s snack.  But having dreamed of a lovely peach danish, the cake idea had been shelved and I set about making the peach danish.  Up front, I have to say that we in a tropical country where peaches do not grow.  This is not to say that fresh peaches were not available, but when they were available, their prices were sky-high and so I simply got a can of peach halves from the supermarket and drained them.

For the recipes, I turned to Michel Roux’s 1994 book “Desserts:  A Lifelong Passion”

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Of course the first thing to do is to make the puff pastry, which is the base of the danish.  I am not an expert by any means and this was my first attempt.  It was not quite what I had envisioned.  In short, I needed more practice.

BUT Teacher F was scheduled to arrive in about 4 hours so I abandoned the homemade puff pastry idea and rushed to the baking supply store and bought puff pastry.  And to make things even easier for me, I got the one that was already cut into 4-inch squares!

Problem?  Lunch with hubby extended 30 minutes past my schedule and Teacher F arrived thirty minutes early!  This meant I had about 45 minutes to finish my peach danish otherwise Teacher F would have no snack at all!!!!!

The first thing I did was make the pastry cream.  I halved the recipe since I was planning to make just 4 pieces of peach danish. And I used vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, as well as vanilla sugar.

3 egg yolks
60 grams vanilla sugar
20 grams flour
250 ml full fat milk

Mix a third of the sugar with the egg yolks until “light ribbon consistency” as specified in Roux’s recipe.  Stir in the flour and mix well; set aside.  Heat the milk and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan until almost boiling.  Pour about one third of the heated milk into the egg yolk mixture, mix well and add the egg yolk mixture back to the milk mixture.  Continue heating over low heat and stir constantly for about 2 minutes.

Roux’s recipe had instructions how to cool the pastry cream faster but I did not have a marble work surface so I just poured the pastry cream into a glass baking pan (13×9-in) and stirred it lightly with a spatula.

Meanwhile, I cut the puff pastry into rounds and folded the edge to form a “wall”.  I pricked the inner circle and placed about 2 tablespoons of pastry cream in the middle.  I topped the whole thing with a peach half with the dome facing out.  It went into a (preheated) 400*F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.  Midway through, I brushed the top with peach glaze and back into the oven it went.  After the edges are slightly browned, I took the danish out of the oven and brushed it again with peach glaze.

I made it just in the nick of time!  The kid was running down the stairs (and yelling “I’m done, I’m done!) as I snapped a picture of the danish in its serving plate!  I hurriedly brought the peach danish up!

(Somehow, the peach danish in my dream looked waaayyy better than what came out from my oven.  In my dream the puff pastry “hugged” the peach half and no pastry cream was visible.  My finished product was not bad, neither was it ugly, but I think next time I will put a bit less of pastry cream and I would fold the puff pastry right up of the edge of the peach!)

Maruya

Maruya is our local term for banana fritters.  It was a favorite snack all throughout my childhood… my late father also loved it, so we had it pretty often.

The problem?  The recipe is unwritten and largely by estimation.  And while I’ve made maruya before, it was not exactly what we had as kids.

As luck would have it, I found a recipe for banana fritters in my mom’s files.  And I tried it the first opportunity I had.

And it was… PERFECT!

It was soft in the middle and crunchy/crispy on the edges!

PERFECT!  EXACTLY LIKE THE MARUYA OF MY CHILDHOOD!!!

(If there’s any change that I made, it was to use turbinado sugar flavored with real vanilla, instead of white granulated sugar.)

(Sigh…)

Another Fruitcake

This is the last one, I promise!!!

The recipe for this one looked easy – it mixed in one bowl, with no pre-soaking required.  Best of all, it was ready to eat after baking (and cooling)!

The secret? Condensed milk!

I followed this recipe from Eagle Brand.  But not knowing where to find mincemeat I just used mixed dried fruit, about 2 cups worth.  I also added about half a tablespoon of apple pie spice…

Fast.  Easy.  Delicious.

Yuummmmmm!

 

Fruitcake 2018, Finally!

I say “finally” because I have found what I was looking for – a great tasting fruitcake whose recipe is fast (truly fast with no need even for a mixer!), simple, easy, and even when it’s last minute!

After much experimentation that began in July, here it is!!!

It is so fast and easy that even if it’s mid-December already, I can still bake it and give it the day after.  The texture is great – moist but not breaking apart… it is not too heavy but it is not light at all… it is chockfull of fruits (which admittedly is the most time consuming of all – with dicing big fruits and soaking it in brandy for more than 3 months), and IT IS DELICIOUS!!!

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(a peek of the inside, from the first trial of the recipe, baked in a glass pan)

I bake it right in the “pan”, brush it with more brandy, cool it in the same container then just cover it with the see-through lid that is part of the package (or in one case where I broke the lid, cover it with clingfilm).  Then I just stick a label on it and send it – DONE!

(will post the recipe later after I’ve organized everything.)

For now, I will enjoy baking this last minute fruitcake and then sit back while the recipients compliment me!

hahahahaha!

 

Orange-Blueberry Baby Bundt Cake with Blueberry-Vanilla Rum Sauce

I recently found a “baby” bundt cake pan. It was perfect for my little electric oven. By ‘little’ I mean my oven is only slightly bigger than a toaster oven, and this means I have some difficulty finding pans that fit!

Anyway, the pan was about 6 inches across and could fit a recipe for a medium (8×4) loaf pan. I thought of using the orange loaf recipe and spiking it with rum instead of triple sec. Then, because I had some leftover blueberry filling, I decided to ‘make’ a tunnel of blueberry in the ‘baby’ bundt cake.

It baked up quite beautifully!

Then I thought it looked a bit plain.  It was fine by itself already but I wanted to gussy it up even more… so…

Since I still had some blueberry filling left over, I decided to make Blueberry-Vanilla Sauce that was spiked with rum to pour over the cake.  Of course to make the slice ever prettier for the picture so I laid the vanilla pod I used on top!

The recipe for the Blueberry-Vanilla-Rum Sauce –

Place about 1/3 cup of blueberry filling, 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons butter, and a vanilla pod (split and scrape the “caviar”) in a small, thick saucepan. Heat over a low flame until butter is melted and the mixture is barely simmering; remove from flame and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum.

 

Stuffed Dates

The local baking supply store always has dates for sale.  They are already pitted but they are often on the small side… good enough for baking and not bad for snacking.  But for a real treat, Medjool dates are the best.

Last weekend, hubby went to the nearby membership-only grocery store (without me!!!!) and found some organic (!) Medjool dates, at a very reasonable price!!!!  So of course he bought some!

He is perfectly happy to enjoy the dates as is but I had to interfere and try something else!

I’d seen stuffed dates before and usually the ones I’ve seen are stuffed with cheese and/or nuts.  I decided to stick with the cheese but use some of the fruit that I had macerating in the fridge (the ones for my fruitcake projects!).

The cast of characters –

It is very easy to make, except maybe for the pitting part… then again I had to slice the dates halfway anyway so…

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely minced mixed dried fruit (macerated in brandy for at least 12 hours)
about 12 to 16 pieces of Medjool dates, pitted and sliced but not all the way through

Stir the cream cheese and macerated fruit together.  Place the filling inside a pastry bag with a large open star tip.  Pipe the filling in the dates.  Then enjoy!!!

 

Mommy’s Fruitcake

My mom, for Christmas, is famous for 3 things – her lasagna, her apple pie, and her fruitcake!

I have succeeded with the lasagna, and am still struggling with the apple pie… but with her fruitcake?  Hmmmm, I know I botched up her recipe!

Why do I say this?

Well, first of all, she has 3 recipes for fruitcake in her recipe collection.  I have no idea which one she used!

Then, I thought I had all the ingredients – I checked a week before to see if I had everything… and I did, except for some dried and glazed fruit, and brandy.  I got hubby to drive me to various baking supply stores and the wine shop to get what I needed.  Then I started soaking my fruit.  When  baking day arrived, I gathered my ingredients together and discovered, to my dismay (!) that my molasses had gone bad!!!  Too late to go out and find molasses so I used dark corn syrup instead…

Then I committed the ultimate “sin”… I failed to check the oven temperature, and I baked the fruitcakes a tad longer than I was supposed to!  After 4 decades of baking, I forget the most basic of rules!  (totally my fault because I decided to substitute pans – made the fruitcakes into cupcakes and a small loaf, instead of 2 medium loaves).

So, it really isn’t any wonder that my (mom’s) fruitcake did not resemble the original!

Don’t worry, I will try again.  In fact, I have 1.5 kilograms of fruit soaking in brandy right now!!!  (And yes, I got the molasses too!)  Now all I have to do is find the time to bake!

(Hubby says that the fruitcake is delicious, although it is a bit dry inside…)