Ube, Ube, More Ube!

Who knows if ube is uniquely or exclusively a Filipino food.  What I do know is that it has traditionally been considered as Filipino.  And we grew up with it!  Ube jam, ube cake, simple boiled ube with melted butter… ube ice cream… ube kakanin… there are even ube dishes that are savory!

More importantly, I don’t know anyone (consider though that my world is small!) who does not like ube!  I do know that most of my friends love it… and they love it even more when I make ube cake.

This particular one, however, is not the usual ube chiffon cake that I make.  For friend J’s birthday, I decided to go for a heavier cake – an ube pound cake, filled with ube halaya, and garnished with ube rossettes topped with macapuno balls.

It was a big hit and everybody loved it!

 

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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)!

Brownie Ice Cream Pie

I’ve made brownie pies before, as well as ice cream pies, but this time around, I decided to combine them!

Why? Well, I have stuff sitting in the freezer for a while now…

Like an Oreo crust… chocolate ice cream… vanilla ice cream…

But for the brownie layer, I decided to try out Sebastian’s Remarkably Wonderful Brownies –

Image captured from my ebook copy of Dorie’s Cookies

I used the weight proportions and halved the recipe (the pie pan was a 9-in round while the recipe was for a 13×9-in pan) and baked the pie for about 20 minutes.

And because I was very impatient, I shoved the pan into the freezer 15 minutes after I took it out of the oven!

After about an hour, I spread vanilla ice cream over the top of the frozen brownie and put the chocolate ice cream on top (the chocolate ice cream was just a couple of largish spoonfuls, being the bottom of the container already!) and very lightly swirled the ice creams to make a marbled effect…

The kid was very excited to taste it but I said the ice cream had to set first (it had become melty you see)…

But it was well worth the wait!!!!!!!!!!!

Soooooooooo, sooooooo yummy!

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!)

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!

 

Lemon Tart

I was left with 10 skinless lemons after making limoncello.  I juiced the lemons and froze it while I pondered what to do with the juice.

There was the usual lemon cake, or maybe lemon curd, or maybe just lemon juice, etc. etc.  But I wasn’t really fully convinced until I saw the recipe by Alice Medrich in her book Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts for an Easy Lemon Tart.

It was truly easy!  I was done in less than an hour!  But we could not enjoy it since we preferred it super cold!

But it was soooo yummy!  Even our guest was impressed – he had seconds!!!

 

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!

 

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I admit it. I have been obsessed with chocolate lately. I’ve made bourbon brownies, 2 toned chocolate and choco chip cookies, in addition to the usual, standard stuff I make. And I’m not yet done. Still on my list are Kladdkaka, Tableya Cupcakes, Creme de Cacao… and this Chocolate Cheesecake, which has been dubbed Death by Chocolate Cheesecake.

For this one I delved deep into my cookbooks. Both hubby and the kid are chocoholics, and both are very particular when it comes to chocolate – they have discerning tastes! They prefer a deep, complex, nuanced chocolate flavor. I finally hit the jackpot when I found this recipe in a special edition “magazine” of Fine Cooking.

I started with a ready-made, off-the-grocery-shelf Oreo cookie crust. I know I could have made my own chocolate cookie crust but having a ready-made one DOES give me more time to concentrate on the filling, which I believed was more important! The downside though is that the ready made crust could not contain the full recipe for the filling. So I had to polish my math skills and scaled the recipe to about 2/3 – even then I was afraid that the batter would spill over in the oven. But all is well that ends well, the batter puffed up during baking but settled in nicely upon cooling…

The recipe did not specify a topping but I had in my mind a chocolate masterpiece with 6 layers of chocolate! I imagined (1) chocolate cookie crust, (2) double chocolate cheesecake filling, (3) silky ganache topping, (4) dark chocolate curls, (5) chocolate syrup drizzle, and (6) chocolate ice cream on the side!

For the silky ganache topping, I wanted a “softer” consistency, so instead of a 50-50 mix of chocolate and whipping cream, I used a 40-60 proportion, using a bit more cream than chocolate.

For the chocolate curls, I finally used the gourmet dark chocolate bar that my brother-in-law gave as a present.

While I had envisioned the 6 layers, I ended up with just 4 because hubby decided that it was overkill (pun intended!) to go beyond the chocolate curls. (The kid happily doused her slice in chocolate syrup though, but skipped the ice cream so at least for her it was 5 layers!)

The verdict? HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, just like that, I am the kid’s hero again! I just love hearing her proclaim – Mommy you are the best cooker and baker ever, ever! (Her exact words)