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!

 

 

 

 

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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!

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!!!!!

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!

Lemon Cream Muffin

On a whim, and because our lemon plant has been busy, I thought of baking some lemon muffins.  But I knew the little girl would not want a “plain” muffin, I thought of adding her favorite (of the moment) blueberry jam to top the muffins.

The recipe:

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup soft cream cheese
1/2 cup 70$ blueberry jam

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 12 muffin cups with baking paper cups.

Mix wet ingredients together; set aside.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.  Stir until just about mixed.

Divide the batter and spoon into the baking cups.  Spoon a scant tablespoon of cream cheese on the center of the muffin batter, followed by a scant tablespoon of jam.  If desired, sprinkle a pinch of turbinado sugar on top for some crunch

Bake about 12 minutes or so until a tester comes out clean.

The muffins were a hit with the little girl, but not so much her 2 playmates.  The playmates’ parents, however, were quite impressed!!!

 

In Someone Else’s Kitchen, part 2 of 4

Let’s talk about apple crisps.

I started making apple crisps when I realized that the very real possibility and probability that I would never succeed in making my mom’s apple pie.  I got the filling right but somehow my crusts were always wrong.  So apple crisp was what I came up with.

The recipe that got me started is Dorie Greenspan’s, from her book “Baking My Home to Yours”.  As always I adjusted to suit my taste… which meant I skipped some and added others…

Anyway, this was the dessert I made for our host last week.  Why?  Because it is easy to make, with ingredients commonly available, and impressive, too.  The best part?  It bakes while we have dinner and when it is served, it is perfect straight out of the oven!

The ingredient list is fairly easy too.  The beauty of modernization is that virtually anything can be found anywhere. So even when I am 250 kilometers away from home, I can find the ingredients that I need.  The nearby supermarket and specialty shop had everything, even real cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg!  Dishes aren’t a problem too, since there were plenty of disposable aluminum pans – in various sizes and shapes at that.  But silly me, I forgot to buy the oats…

(truth time – the pic above is NOT the apple crisp I made in someone else’s kitchen.  I forgot to take a pic of that one)  The one I made in friend G’s house is one I made from memory and I somehow got the sugar amount wrong – I put in waaayyy too much, so it was a tad on the (really) sweet side.

picture courtesy of friends G and J. The topping is all flour, no nuts

Like I said, it is easy to make –

First, generously butter a 6-inch square baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel and core 2 large Fuji apples and 3 to 4 small Gala apples.  Slice into wedges.  I slice mine in varying thickness because I like a bit of crunch and a bit of mush at the same time.  Toss the apple wedges with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, 1 teaspoon apple pie spice ( or cinnamon), 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half), 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 tablespoon whipping cream, juice from 1 fresh calamansi, and 2 tablespoons flour.  Place the apples in the buttered baking dish.

(a short note here – the original recipe called for maple syrup, which is a rare find in my country, so instead I use a mix of vanilla sugar, butter and cream)

Stir together 2/3 cup of flour, 2/3 cup oats (not instant), 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or cashews (optional), 4 to 6 tablespoons vanilla sugar (I usually use 5 tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.  Plop 75 grams of soft, unsalted butter in the mix.  Use a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a food processor, as you prefer but I personally use my hands!  Mix until just clumpy; don’t overdo it.  Scatter over the apples.

Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the topping is a lovely brown.  If the topping gets too browned, cover with aluminum foil.

Best served with cold whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

 

Pineapple Cheesecake

For the last 7 years I have tried to make my sweetie a birthday cake. I usually make it on time but this year I am horribly late, which I blame on the little girl’s quarterly exams. But better late than never, right?

This year I decided on a “healthier” cake, fruit-based, and if my ancestral beliefs are true – lucky!

As a child I’ve often wondered why there were always red pineapple paper lanterns in most Chinese homes and business establishments. My mom always told me they were for good luck, though I never fully understood the reason. It only made sense to me when I was much much older, when it was explained to me that the Chinese name of the pineapple was a homonym for the words that meant ‘good luck come’. It also explained why pineapple desserts are popular in Chinese cuisine!

Anyway, for hubby’s __th (his 38th, he vehemently insists) birthday, I wish him good luck and great fortune with this Pineapple Cheesecake!

For the pineapple cake base –

Heat 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice and cook until reduced by at least half; make sure there’s 3 tablespoons. Let cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 7-inch springform pan with greaseproof paper.

Stir together 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1 egg, 3 tablespoons canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons pineapple juice “concentrate”. Mix well. Fold in 1/3 cup fully drained crushed pineapple.

Place batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.

For the no-bake pineapple cheesecake layer –

Beat 300 grams cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add 1/3 cup sugar and mix well. Add 1/3 cup thick Greek-style yogurt, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mi well. Fold in 1/2 cup fully drained crushed pineapple. Pour over fully cooled cake. Chill at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

For the pineapple topping –

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Add 1/4 cup butter. Heat over medium-low heat to a gentle boil. Simmer about 75 seconds; mixture should be thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of Caribbean rum (one with coconut overtones preferred). Stir in 1/2 cup fully drained crushed pineapple. Let cool completely. Spread a thin layer of the topping on the cheesecake. Unmold from the pan. Keep chilled.

Note – the crushed pineapple should be fully drained otherwise texture of the cake will be affected; the cheesecake layer might not set properly and the topping may turn watery (and become sauce instead of topping).

I did not spread a full layer of the topping on the cheesecake, opting instead for a decorative garnish. My reason is a personal one – I wanted enough topping left over so I could make some pineapple tartlets!

Belated Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Calamansi-Ricotta-Pistachio Cupcakes

We had a bumper crop of calamansi… and I was running out of ideas where to use them!

So… cupcakes…

I was planning to make plain calamansi muffins, but got carried away trying to find a recipe…

In the end, what I did was to use my (super-secret) vanilla cupcake recipe and swap out part of the liquid to ricotta and added 3 tablespoons of pure calamansi juice.  (the cupcake itself, though, I think is a bit lacking in calamansi flavor)

Then to amp up the (super mild) calamansi flavor, I added calamansi syrup and crushed pistachios on top.

The recipe made more than expected – 6 cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and 1 mini loaf!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

The easy way to do this is to use a boxed chocolate cake mix and a boxed chocolate pudding mix.

But it is just as easy to use a favorite one-bowl chocolate cake and an easy from-scratch pudding recipe such as Hershey’s Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding, which was what I did, except that I used half a recipe (for both cake and pudding) because I wanted a small cake.  But I also wanted a little oommph for the pudding, so I made a few changes…

Prepare the chocolate cake and bake as usual.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes in it using the handle of a wooden spoon.  Start cooking the pudding.  When the pudding is done, pour over the hole-ridden cake.  Press plastic wrap on the pudding and chill until set.

My Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding –

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and milk in a thick saucepan.  Cook until thick and boiling.  Simmer at boiling for about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla and Irish Cream, mix well.

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Triple Choco Chip Cookies

My cousin D and I have been talking about chocolate chip cookies.  It made me experiment again.  But I already have a go-to recipe that I quite like (even if I experiment with other recipes still) but I’ve always baked in my big gas oven and this time I wanted to try it in my little electric oven…

The mixing part –

1. Creaming the butter and sugars.

2. Stirring in the flour mixture.

3. Folding in the chocolate chips and chunks.  I used 2 kinds of chips – semi-sweet chips and dark chips; plus I added chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 72%)

I think that using different kinds of chocolate, as well as differently sized bits, in the cookie makes the resulting cookie so much better, with a different dimension to it.

See?  My oven is really small and it can only take 6 cookies at a time, and I had to use the 1-oz scoop at that!

The results –

top – 8 minutes baking time.  Result – soft and chewy cookies

middle – 10 minutes baking time.  Result – crispy edges, soft and chewy centers

bottom – 12 minutes baking.  Result – super crispy cookies.

The winner as per hubby – soft and chewy, 8-minute baked cookies

The little girl’s favorite?  The super crispy, 12-minute baked oookies

Me?  I added walnuts to the last batch of 6

and baked them for 9 minutes…

(before i forget, I always turn the baking sheet around midway!