“My Heart’s Greatest Treasure” Cake

My hubby is celebrating his golden year. It is, according to custom and tradition, a special year that requires a celebration. Of course, I aim to please!

He wanted a different cake initially – a date chiffon cake – but we were concerned that the guests might not appreciate it so we settled for the good ol’ mocha chiffon.

I usually decorate my cakes with gumpaste or sugar flowers but for my hubby, I envisioned gold – because at the moment, his favorite color is gold, and well, it is his golden year. 🙂

The cake is so titled because hubby is my greatest treasure.

So I wanted to do more… in addition to the cake, I also made fruitcake, which hubby loves. (Personally I am not a fan, but year after year I make fruitcake for hubby.)

 

And then, just because hubby likes brownies, I made 4 kinds – triple chip bars, choco malt brownies, choco hazelnut brownies, and his all-time favorite fudge brownies!

The fruitcake and brownie treats were displayed in a “tower” with the fruitcake on top. 

The celebration was held privately at a small club/bar – the place was known for its good food and great sound system. The guest list numbered 50. Hubby and some friends prepared a short program with singing…

The party was wonderful success… a celebration with food, music, and special people! Everyone had a good time. Hubby’s happy!

Happy Golden Year Sweetie!

Halloween Spider Cupcakes

Hmmm… for some reason, I have this thing about halloween and spiders.  Three years ago, the theme for the kid’s halloween treats were spiders too.  That time, I used gummy spiders.  This year I decided on a no-frosting chocolate cupcake with 8 pretzel sticks for legs and big candy eyes.

(although halloween is not really a holiday or an event that we locally celebrate, there are sales and marketing pitches for it.  after all, the kids love the candy-collecting activity and the dress-up costumes!)

To be honest, I found the basic design on Google images – there were lots of ideas especially for the legs but well, all I had on hand were chocolate covered pretzels.

The kid liked them anyway and was excited to give some to her classmates!

And, if you notice there is a picture that is not like the others… technically speaking, the halloween treats this year are… spiders and one ant.

The ant face was designed by hubby, with the one piece of pretzel stick that was left over.  As you can see, the single pretzel was broken into 3 and were just enough for the antennae and the mouth!

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Naked Ube Roll

Just a few days I made ube chiffon cake for a friend’s birthday.  I had a bit of ube left and remembered that my mom liked ube cake too.  She was not, however, fond of icing or frosting… not at all!

Which is fine with me, since it meant less work for a cake for her… still, it had to look decent so the solution is to make a cake roll, without any frosting or icing.

 

Ube Chiffon Cake

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Why did I start with this expression?  Well, as you may see, the cake is not pretty.  It looks a tad worse in real life, in fact.

For an ube cake with ube buttercream frosting, it is quite pale and the lack of vibrant color actually makes the cake look unappetizing…

But looks can be deceiving.  The reason why the cake is pale is simple – there were no colorings added (artificial or otherwise),  The violet color of the ube varies from one plant to another, depending on… well, I really don’t know.  Some say depending on the soil, or the particular variant, or province where it was sourced…  I have seen (and baked with) super vibrant violet ube which resulted in a lovely and very purple cake but I have had my share of weird colors of ube.  There was a time long ago when the ube crop available has such poor color that the cake turned out an awful grey!

But this instance the color was not bad, but neither was it good.  At least the cake was still purplish (as opposed to greyish…)

A peek inside

What was more off-putting was my uneven piping of the buttercream!  My RSS has been acting up so that’s my excuse… but other than that blame it on the ube… it was what we refer to as “ma-ugat“, meaning it is fibrous to a fault.  Despite mashing and processing it in the food processor, largish bits remained and the bits jammed the piping tips so there… RSS plus jammed decorating tips equals hideous-looking cake!

But. But. Looks can be deceiving!

Because I know that despite how it looks, this cake is DELICIOUS!

And, it almost got wasted…

Hubby brought this cake for his friends.  There were 2 other cakes at the gathering, both from prominent bakeshops in town.  At first no one paid any attention to my cake and not a one took a slice.  When it became known that I had baked it, one bravely tried it… then it went and disappeared in a flash!

But I was a tad bit insulted… because no one wanted to try it because it did not look nice… sniff sniff…

Then again, all is well that ends well?

PS – another ube chiffon birthday cake, with slightly better piping of frosting –

 

 

Cocomia Cookies

I promised BFF a cake but I guess I made a mistake and the cake did not materialize.  But my conscience could not allow me to come empty-handed, so I decided to make some cookies – her favorite combo of flavors – coconut and macadamias.

The recipe I use is the usual one, from BHG (my original post here), but with very slight changes –

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar (reduced from 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup compound butter, softened (instead of half shortening/half butter)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes (instead of desiccated coconut)
1/2 cup halved macadamias (I had small ones)
chocolate covered macadamia nuts

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat well.

Stir in flour mixture. Fold in coconut and macadamias.

This time, I dropped tablespoons of the dough into a mini muffin/cupcake tin.

Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake another 4 minutes then (working fast) place a chocolate piece in the center of the cookie. Bake another 2 minutes, until cookie edges are lightly browned.

BFF looked happy!

84 Mini Cupcakes!

Who knows where this recipe is from… I certainly don’t know.  All I know is that I was flipping through a second-hand cookbook and a paper with this recipe was tucked inside the pages.  It was titled “Big Batch Cupcakes” and specified that it made 4 dozen 2-oz cupcakes.

It was perfect timing, actually, since I had to bake at least 6 dozen mini cupcakes so I tried the recipe!

1/2 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in
1/2 cup hot water

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

The instructions were straight-forward and easy –

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and let cool slightly. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients.

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix about 2 minutes or until everything is combined.

Scoop or spoon into prepared cupcake tins/pans (the recipe made 7 dozens or 84 pieces of mini cupcakes!).  To make the mini cupcakes a bit interesting, I added about half a teaspoon of cheesecake filling to the batter.

Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

img_5672

I used ganache to frost 6 dozens of mini cupcakes before I ran out.  There was a bit of coffee buttercream left over from the mocha cake I made earlier, and with that I managed to frost half a dozen, which left 6 plain ones…

 

Mocha Chiffon Cake

Happy Birthday friend H!

I know you wanted Ube Chiffon Cake… but ube is not in season at the moment so there were none in the market to buy!  I turned to the next best thing… mocha chiffon cake!  After all, there is always coffee! 🙂

Sorry but the recipe for this one cannot be shared.  I just wanted to share the picture of the finished cake… and I was so happy that everyone found it delicious (someone even said it was better than the famous one from … )  Needless to say I was all smiles!

 

PS – I made another one, but smaller with 3 layers… because B’s A-te J asked for it…

Cashew Brittle Brownies

My first homemade cookie (and still my all-time favorite) is the peanut butter cookie.  But from the time I was 14, I was known for my brownies.

The recipe for the brownies is one that I cannot share because it is not mine alone – my mom and I tried and tested and tweaked until we were both satisfied, so it is special.  Which is not to say that I have not messed with the recipe…

So, this Cashew Brittle Brownie is such an attempt.  🙂

Anyway, on our last trip up north, I bought some cashew brittle (as I always do when we go up north) and before the whole container is finished, I got some and crushed them coarsely and sprinkled the brittle bits on top.

(you could use your favorite brownie recipe and sprinkle your preferred nut brittle bits on top…)

The brownies are fantastic!

I am not that much of a brownie fan but I could not help myself with these – I stuffed myself silly!  I should have5  just one or two but I actually ate 4 or 5 (or maybe even 6, to tell the truth)

Now I want to make more!  But where can I get cashew brittle here???

PS- hubby brought some brownies to a gathering.  He said they were a big hit!    He said that someone else brought brownies from a well known patisserie and at the end of the night, mine were all gone but the brownies from the patisserie were still sitting on the table!  (I felt extremely flattered!!!!!)

Pan Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe intrigued me!

So I thought of trying it…

My first attempt was a dismal fail –

The cookies spread so much it stuck together forming 1 weird looking mass.

My second try was better – I “contained” the spreading of the cookies by baking them in a pan with shallow round cavities.  But the cookies were too soft.  I think perhaps I may have underdone the baking slightly.

My next one was even better, but I still baked the cookies in a shallow round mold…

My final one was by far the best one.  But it was waaay tooo tedious.  I don’t have a big oven so technically only 2 large cookies would fit my cookie sheet! It took me the whole afternoon to bake 11 cookies!!!

The recipe can be found on The Vanilla Bean Blog.

 

Triple Chocolate Mini Cupcakes

While I have my standard go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes, I still try other recipes.  Especially when the recipe is by a well-known chef/baker/the like… more so if the recipe is featured in the New York Times…

So, this is Mark Bittman’s recipe (and yes, I bought 2 copies of his book How to Cook Everything – a hard copy and a soft copy!) but since I intended to make mini cupcakes, I halved the recipe, and of course, made some adaptations to suit me (ok, I admit I’m lazy so I like the dump-it-all-in-the-bowl method) –

The adapted recipe –

1/4 cup butter
45 grams unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup flour
1/8 cup black cocoa (my addition)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

ganache
62% chocolate buttons

Melt the butter with unsweetened chocolate; stir until smooth.  Cool slightly before using.

Combine the dry ingredients together (flour, black cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar).  Note that the original recipe did not include black cocoa but I wanted a super dark, almost black cupcake!

Add the egg, cooled chocolate mixture, vanilla and milk; mix well.  Note that the original recipe specified that the egg/s be separated and the whites beaten to soft peaks but like I said I am lazy!!!

So anyway, fill paper-lined mini muffin tins about 3/4s full and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting and garnishing.

Shameless but proud momma here – my kid helped me frost some cupcakes.

Really now, they’re pretty good considering her age…