Filipino-style Cheese Cupcake

Even before knowing about (American/Western) cupcakes, we were happily eating cheese cupcakes (we are the ones with cheese ice cream too!).  When I was a young girl, all the neighborhood bakeries had their own version of cheese cupcakes.  Some were crumbly, extremely cheesy, sweet, heavy… there were all kinds of it.  My personal favorite was the soft kind with a lot of cheese flavor and cheese strips on top.

I tried many recipes for cheese cupcake and got a myriad of results – crumbly, heavy, sweet… none were as cheesy as I would like.  I later discovered, when someone revealed a trade “secret”, that commercial bakeries used cheese flavoring (either a concentrate liquid or powder) to enhance the cheesy flavor.  Well, I don’t know where to get cheese flavoring, then again, I preferred to achieve flavor naturally.  I was able to do by using parmesan… not the “real” stuff but the prepared and already grated ones readily available in the supermarkets.

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-margarine blend
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup quick-melt cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix the dry ingredients together, then set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together. Add the condensed milk.

Add half the flour mixture and mix. Add the evaporated milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Fold in the grated Parmesan. Fold in half the quick-melt and cheddar cheeses.

Scoop batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 15 minures. Take the pan out and quickly sprinkle the rest of the cheeses on top of the cupcakes. Return to the oven and bake further, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take care not to over-bake.


Maple Apple Loaf

I was doing a bit of (ehem) light spring cleaning in the kitchen when I found a small bottle of maple syrup in one of the back cabinets… it must be years old, but it was still sealed.  I took a chance that it was still ok and it looked, smelled and tasted fine.  So I figured I was going to bake a loaf with it!  (I was a bit envious of brother E’s Maple and Walnut Loaf)

But I couldn’t find my walnuts!  (The fridge and freezer got reorganized and crazy me, I forgot to put labels!)  What I did find was a lonely apple in the fridge.  Goodness knows how long it’s been there but it was still firm and crunchy soooo….

Hello Maple and Apple Loaf!!!

Of course I had to do a bit of adjusting… for instance I added apple pie spice to the dry ingredients… reduced the sugar a bit more (from 1/3 cup to 3 tablespoons, keeping in mind that there’s still maple syrup to sweeten it, as well as the apple) and grating the apple (kinda like grating carrots of carrot cake… the apple yielded about a 1/2 lightly packed shredded apples.  Oh, I also omitted the heavy cream, because I thought, the shredded apples would take its place.

The house smelled absolutely heavenly while the loaf was baking.  The little girl even ran from her room to the kitchen exclaiming what yummy smell is that??!?!

The loaf baked nicely with a texture that’s much softer than the other variants.  But it was definitely delicious!!!!

The adjusted recipe (but still based on the “master loaf” recipe)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 tablespoons sugar (reduced from the original 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 apple, peeled, cored, and shredded

Mix together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix until just blended. Don’t over-mix. Fold in shredded apples.

Place batter in a greased and lined medium-sized loaf pan (our standard size locally is 7×3 inches but the batter reaches almost to the rim edge)

Bake in a preheated 325*F oven, about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before slicing.

Peanut Butter Banana Choco Chip Loaf

I was already a young adult when I discovered the fantastic combination of peanut butter-banana-chocolate… and I was skeptical at first, but WOW!

So it was a no brainer that I would add peanut butter to our regular banana choco-chip loaf (the master loaf recipe variant).  In theory it was easy to say just add, say, half a cup of peanut butter to the recipe but as brother E discovered, it was easier said than done.  His first try at the combination was not as expected.

The good thing about his experience was that I could learn from it and adjust the recipe… it seems that the batter had a bit too much fat, especially since local peanut butter was used.  (The local peanut butter is a “natural” type, with a layer of oil sitting on top of the peanut butter.)

In my case, I also used a local peanut butter, a homemade one by one of hubby’s associates.  I have to admit I am not used to (or fond of) the local peanut butter, since I am quite turned off at the copious amount of oil that I see, but who am I to turn away a gift?  I just poured the oil out and tasted it.  Truth is, the peanut butter is delicious (now I want to know where I can buy the stuff!!!!!)

Anyway, to make a long experiment story short, I adjust the recipe by reducing the butter to 1/4 cup, adding 1/2 cup peanut butter and 2 mashed bananas.  The batter was so thick that I added 2 tablespoons water.  The batter was still thick but I didn’t want to mess up the proportions further (besides if this experiment was a failure I could try again!)  For the procedure, I mixed the wet ingredients together, added the mashed bananas before stirring in the dry ingredients.  The chocolate chips (semi-sweet chips and mini dark chips) were folded in last.

The resulting loaf was good.  It wasn’t oily, and the texture was ok.  The top was quite brown though but it did not burn…  As for the flavor, both peanut butter and banana were there.  As for the aroma… the kitchen smelled heavenly!!!

Mix together 1/4 cup soft butter (reduced from 1/2 cup originally), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add 2 mashed bananas and 2 tablespoons water.  Stir in 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar (reduced also), 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a 7×3-inch loaf (our local “standard”) pan has been greased, lined, and re-greased.  Bake in a preheated 300*F oven for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Ten with foil if the top gets too browned.

It is wonderful when enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee!!!!


Lemon Kiwi Loaf

It was raining like mad, and the flood waters outside the gate have been steadily rising.  When I looked a few minutes ago, I saw some men wading in the flood waters.  The water was almost knee level.

Some of the neighbors, the ones on lower ground, had already left their houses and were huddled under the roof of the sari sari store.  I actually asked hubby if they would like to seek shelter inside our house.  A-te J gave them some shirts because they were soaked.

I am still nervous about flooding, but somehow less now than before.  Still, I always try to distract myself.

Enter this Lemon Kiwi Loaf!!!

Still a variation of the master loaf recipe that I shared with brother E… but with something special…

Kiwis are readily available now in the supermarkets and I had some stuck in the fridge for a while.  So I decided to make kiwi filling and then thought that I could make a loaf out of it…

to make the kiwi filling –

1 cup diced kiwis (about 4 to 5 kiwis, depending on the size)
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar (I actually used 3 because the kiwis were quite tart)
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (keep the zest for the loaf!)
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place the diced kiwis, sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan; heat over low heat until sugar melts (stir gently). Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons water.

Using a slotted spoon, take out half of the diced kiwis and leave as much liquid as possible in the saucepan. Using an immersion blender, whiz the kiwi mixture in the sauce pan until smooth. Return the removed diced kiwis back in the pan and continue heating until softly boiling. Give the cornstarch water a quick stir then pour into the kiwi mixture. Stir gently until thick. Remove from heat and cool.

I reserved half cup of the homemade filling for the loaf.  I set aside the excess to make kiwi glaze/syrup to garnish the loaf.

To make the loaf, I used the master loaf, adding the lemon zest to the dry ingredients and reducing the sugar by a third (because the filling already has sugar).  When I mixed everything together, however, I felt that the batter was more like dough so I added 1/4 cup of milk, until I felt the consistency was better…

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup homemade kiwi filling

Stir the dry ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in the kiwi filling.

Bake at 325*F for about 40 minutes, taking care that the top does not brown too much (I got distracted and my loaf has an almost blackened top!)

To make glaze, I used the excess kiwi filling.  It went back into the pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water (use your best judgement when adding water to thin the filling, too much could ruin it).  Heat the mixture until the sugar melts, the filling should be less thick and more syrupy in texture.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum.  Brush the top and sides of the loaf.  If you still have extra, drizzle over slices before serving!





Oreo Brownies

The kid had invited a playmate for a playdate.  As usual, she asked me to make snacks.  This particular instance, she asked for brownies with Oreo cookies.  When I asked why, she replied that it was because she wanted brownies and her playmate wanted Oreo cookies.  Win-win, right?

Well, as may be seen from the picture, it turns out that I had underestimated the number of cookies that the pack contained!  I was sure that it was enough, I had even thought that there would be leftover cookies!

Anyway, it was easy to make – just pick your favorite brownie recipe (here is mine) and skip all the mix-ins.  After pouring the batter into the pan, press Oreo cookies on top of the brownie batter (just make sure you have enough cookies to  cover the whole top, I promise it will look waaaayyyy better than this one that I made)

As always, the best of cooking and baking for the kid, she always gushes that her “mommy makes the BEST stuff”!

(big, big grin!)

Light Tropical Fruitcake

Brother E has been baking up a storm, using the master loaf recipe. He’s tried the ones I suggested and has even come up with a few of his own – avocado, honey and almond, banana-honey, squash… and he is thinking of some others such as salted caramel…

as for me, I thought of making it fruitcake… a white fruitcake.  Why fruitcake? and why white?

Well, since the fire that engulfed my mom’s recipes, I have been in a frenzy to find the copies that I took home with me a long time ago.  As I find them, I encode them (again) to save them… I came across a recipe for white fruitcake with the title “Cely’s White Fruitcake”.  I am presuming that it refers to her sister, my aunt, Cely.

Of course I have no permission to share that recipe but I thought I could adapt my master loaf recipe to make a white fruitcake.  And it was a success!

How did I do it?  Well, first I used butter instead of oil.  Then I substituted some of the sugar with honey.  I added cinnamon and a dried fruit mix which was soaked in my favorite rum!

The first thing to do – soak the fruits in rum… a good 3 hours before making the fruitcake, but preferably the night before.  A note on the fruits – I like a dried fruit mix instead of glazed fruits but it is the baker’s choice!  So you could use whatever fruits you like – mix dried fruits and glazed fruits… add some chopped nuts… like I said, baker’s choice!  (for this I used a tropical fruit mix – pineapple, papaya, coconut, mango…)

150g dried fruit mix (about 1 cup)
75g pitted dates, diced
3 to 4 tablespoons rum

For the fruitcake itself –

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Beat the butter and sugar together, add honey and vanilla. Mix well then add the egg. Beat a couple of minutes.

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
zest from 1 orange, optional
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to butter-egg mix alternately with

¼ cup milk

Fold in the fruit mix.

Place in a greased and lined 7×3 loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 325*F oven for about 55 minutes. Tent with foil if the top gets too browned.

Brush the loaf with rum and more rum.

The loaf can be aged with rum (keep in fridge, wrapped in foil; brush with rum once or twice a week) or it can be enjoyed sooner – immediately, that is once it has cooled.  Frankly, hubby can be impatient so I cheat.  What do I do? I slice the loaf and brush the slices with rum before serving!


Reduced Sugar Oatmeal Chippers

It is no secret that my favorite cookies are Peanut Butter Cookies.  What is not so widely known is my next favorite – nope, still not Chocolate Chip Cookies – it’s oatmeal!  But not with raisins, or chocolate chips… I like my oatmeal cookies with dates!

But… for this baking project, I gave in to a (supposedly) win-win-win situation – win 1 for me – oatmeal, win 2 for the kid – chocolate chips, and win 3 for hubby – calorie reduced… so I went to my cookbook library and pulled out an old favorite cookbook –

bhg_cookie book

(seriously, I have a collection of BHG cookbooks!  I have at least 4 for cookies alone!)

and decided to use the recipe for Oatmeal Chippers…

oatmeal chippers recipe

with (as usual) some modifications.

To be honest, hubby and the kid were not impressed by the cookies.  They said that the cookies were bland, with a particular texture that they did NOT find appealing.

I shared some with BFF, who shared some with her officemates, and according to them, they were delicious!

So I choose to believe BFF!  hahahaha!

For the recipe –

I used a sugar-stevia baking mix (I found in the baking store), in place of the sugar.  Actually, the instructions on the packet directed using only half of the baking mix in place of the whole sugar amount.  I omitted the nuts (the kid and hubby prefer a no-nut cookie).  I also halved the recipe!

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter compound
6 tablespoons sugar-stevia (sugar substitute mix)
(original is 3/4 cup brown and white sugar mix)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour and baking soda.   Beat butter compound and sugar substitute together; add egg and vanilla.  Beat well.  Stir in flour, in 2 additions.  Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.

Using a 1-oz cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 375*F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.  Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The half recipe made around 30 cookies.

Next time I am going to try the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chip Cookies by Martha Stewart!

THE Brownies!

I was ten years old when I started baking.  My favorite?  Peanut Butter Cookies.  My siblings’ and mom’s favorite?  Brownies.  My mom liked a particular kind of brownies so much that we (although it really means just me) experimented for several years to get it the way we (she) liked it.

And this is IT.

A not-too-sweet, dense, fudge-y, deeply chocolate-y brownie, with a thin, crispy top layer.

Everybody liked it.  I even made tons of it (figuratively) to sell at Christmastime.  I had determined that my last baking day was the 22nd, but I kept getting orders all the way up to New Year’s!

We were always getting requests for the recipe.  My mom wouldn’t give it (even now she refuses to share her recipes!) except for very close relatives.

How is it relevant today?

Well, basically it is because my mother and I have a complicated relationship.  But we found a common ground in cooking/baking.  From there, we developed a workable relationship.  Even today, when we have misunderstandings and breaks in our relationship, we usually reconnect over matters involving cooking and baking.

So, these brownies…

(Sorry I don’t have permission to share the recipe)

it’s special because it was the beginning…


Ginataang Mais at Sago

Coconut is abundant in our country. No wonder we have many dishes that use it – be it savory or sweet.  And as main dish, side dish or dessert, coconut-based dishes are a big favorite of mine!

An example of a dessert dish that is an absolute favorite is Ginataang Mais – literally corn cooked in coconut.  But this is a bit of a misnomer because sticky rice, or sweet glutinous rice is also a part of the dish.  In my case, though I veer from the mainstream and add sago – tapioca if I am not mistaken.  This sweet dessert contains all my favorites – coconut, sticky rice, corn, and sago!

My cast of characters –

4 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup muscovado, or to taste
1/2 cup sticky rice (sweet glutinous rice)
1-1/2 cups shredded corn, preferably fresh from white sticky corn
1 cup thick coconut cream
1/2 to 1 cup sago (tapioca)

Mix coconut milk and sugar together in a thick-bottomed saucepan.  Heat on medium fire.  Add the sticky rice.  When the mixture boils, stir the mixture so the rice does not stick to the bottom.  Reduce the heat to low-medium, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Cook about 15 to 20 minutes then add the corn kernels.  Cook until the rice is done (don’t overdo it through), add the coconut cream and sago.  Let simmer a few minutes.  Adjust sweetness, if desired.  Serve hot.


Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes is the one by Nestle.  It is a classic after all and it is said that it is the original chocolate chip cookie.

We shouldn’t mess with something that has proven, right?  But I have read online that browning butter in recipes make the end product even better.  So I decided to brown the butter.  The results were fantastic!!!

(Note –  I halved the recipe because 4 to 5 dozen cookies are too much for us)

1/2 cup browned, melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

(To get 1/2 cup browned butter, start with 3/4 cup butter.  Melt until it is browned.  Pour into a glass liquid measuring cup with the lovely browned bits up to the 1/2 level.  There may be some melted butter left depending on the butter used.  Leave to cool before using.)

Beat the browned butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add the combined dry ingredients in 3 additions.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop or scoop onto paper-lined cookie sheets.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!!