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…

 

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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.

Enjoy!

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!!!!!!!!!!!

 

E’s Maple-Walnut Loaf

Remember brother E who came over a couple of weekends ago because he wanted to learn how to bake a loaf?  Well, he’s a fast learner and now he has baked his own Maple Walnut Loaf.

The recipe is (still) a variant of the (now quite popular) basic loaf recipe.  A few minor adjustments and a new flavor appears!

The recipe, adjusted

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

1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream

First, preheat the oven to 325F. Grease, line and re-grease a medium loaf pan.

Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into the prepare loaf pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cover with foil if the top gets too browned. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

 

 

Irish Cream Flan Cake

It was delicious, everyone said.  But it did not look as I thought it would.

I’d always imagined it (as I’d seen other flan cakes) as a cake with a flan layer on top.  Mine came out with a thin layer on top and some flan on the sides.  I don’t know what happened.

At least it was fully cooked this time.

The first time I tried it, a good 5 or so years ago, I ended up with a big goopy mess!  All over the floor!

I followed the recipe and baked accordingly, or so I thought.  I turned the pan over into a plate and whoosh… like a wave and into the floor!

Long story short… this flan cake is (next to the ensaymada and my mom’s apple pie) my waterloo.  But I will keep trying!

THE Best Waffles, Ever!

The little girl woke me up. I was rather surprised to discover that I had, in fact, overslept.

Anyway, the little girl had not eaten breakfast yet and was (apparently) hungry (which is why, presumably, she woke me up); moreover, she had something in mind…

Nope, not her (usual) favorite pancakes. Instead, she wanted waffles.

She was under the impression that pancakes and waffles were the same, except in form. I explained that they were somewhat similar but really quite different.

The recipe I used is a good one, producing waffles which were crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the middle. But it is unlikely that I will make waffles again.

Why? you may ask.

Well because it took me 2 hours to make 10 waffles! And seriously! I don’t recall waffles taking THAT much time before. Maybe it has something to do with the waffle iron? I used to have a waffle iron that was a large round (which I was told was Belgian-style, but I don’t really know). That one (a wedding gift) drowned in the big flood almost a decade ago and I was not inclined to buy another one (a single use appliance that uses a lot of space…). But I recently received a 3-in-1 waffle-sandwich-mini donut maker so when the young one asked for waffles I said why not (it was another recipe to try using buttermilk…)

Could it be that the round waffler cooked faster than the squarish one (which I was told was American style?)

Anyway, here is the recipe I used –

1 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, separated

Begin by preheating the waffle iron.

Place all ingredients except egg whites in a bowl and stir using a wooden spoon or spatula. Mix until just combined. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold the batter into the egg whites.

Pour about 1/3 cup of batter in each waffle square and close the cover.  Wait until the steam is gone before opening the cover again.  (I like to brush butter on the iron.)

Keep the cooked waffles warm in an oven while you finish the rest.

Enjoy with butter and syrup!  And coffee!

E’s Baking Day!

My brother E was intrigued when I told him about BFF’s baking day.  He knows BFF and decided that if BFF could bake then so could he!  So he came over and boom!  We baked Mango Loaf and Coffee Milk Loaf using the versatile loaf base (flavors were his choice).

To make the mango loaf, add 1/3 cup pureed mango and 3 tablespoons half and half.  If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon mango extract.  Fold in 1/4 chop finely diced dried mangoes.

To make coffee milk loaf, add 1/4 cup strong coffee (cooled), and 1/4 teaspoon coffee extract.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream.

The coffee milk loaf was good but the mango loaf was fantastic!!!

B’s Banana Loaf

The little girl (though I think I should stop calling her little…) was so inspired by last weekend’s baking session that she wanted to bake her own banana loaf.  So I handed her the recipe and told her that she was on her own, except for the preheating of the oven and putting/removing the loaf pan in or out of the hot oven.

Of course I stayed nearby to keep an eye on her.  As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried – in fact, I was quite impressed!  Apparently all those times when she showed an interest while I was in the kitchen and/or helped out as I cooked and/or baked, she was really paying attention.

She did everything by herself.  She got out all the ingredients, measured and mixed.  I was amazed that she could handle the hand mixer – one hand holding the bowl, the other hand on the mixer…she was great!

I was only called to help when she realized the mixing bowl with the batter was too heavy for her to lift with a single while the other hand held the spatula to coax the batter into the loaf pan.  And of course, to put the loaf pan into the hot oven.

She watched the oven and checked the progress of her banana loaf every 5 to 10 minutes.  When the timer dinged, I got summoned to take the pan out of the oven and she tested finished product with a cake tester.  The tester did not come out quite clean so she told me – 5 more minutes mommy!

Her banana loaf was beautiful!  And super yummy!!!

At the end of the day, hubby was impressed as well.  And he loved the banana loaf!

I was not surprised that there were none left the next day… a bit disappointed perhaps – simply because I thought I could enjoy a slice with my favorite coffee for breakfast!!!

For the recipe, see the blog entry Baking Day with BFF.

 

Rowie’s Macaroons

As I said the other day, BFF came over last weekend for a baking session.  Originally she asked to make banana loaf and carrot loaf but I knew she liked macaroons a lot (and it was quite easy) so I snuck a batch in.

Here is the recipe –

1 egg white
1/4 cup condensed milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 cup dessicated coconut and/or coconut flakes, up to 1-1/4 cups

Just mix the ingredients together.  Using a small ice cream scoop, place mounds of the batter on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.  Bake about 10 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.  Cool completely.

The recipe makes about 18 to 20 pieces.

 

 

Baking Day with BFF

I always have a great time with BFF.  Today was no different, but what’s special is that today we… yes, WE, were baking!

But since BFF is a beginner and she wants something easy and doable, I gave her an easy, versatile recipe for a basic loaf base that can be made into several kinds.  For today it was banana chocolate chip loaf and carrot walnut loaf.

The recipe for the base –

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

First, preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease, line and re-grease a loaf pan (1 8×4 or 2 mini loaf pans – we used the 8×4 for the carrot walnut loaf and the 2 smaller loaf pans for the banana choco chip loaf).  Get everything ready – tools, bowls, ingredients…

We tackled 2 ways of mixing the batter – one bowl, dump style and creaming.

For the one bowl, dump style – Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will look like cookie dough.

For the creaming method – Stir the dry ingredients (except sugar) together; set aside.  Beat the oil/butter with the sugar for a couple of minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla; mix well.

Then add your main components –

for banana choco chip cake, mix in 2 to 3 mashed, over-ripe bananas.  Fold in 1/3 to 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we overdid it with the chips… it was a tad too much.  1/3 cup is reasonable. 1/2 cup is pushing it… but the 2/3 cup we used – well, it was abusive!!! *smile*)

for carrot walnut loaf, mix in 1 cup shredded carrot.  Fold in 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped (toasted) walnuts.  (sorry I forgot to take a picture!!!)

Bake the larger loaf about 45 to 55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Rotate the pan midway; cover with foil if the top gets too browned.  Bake the smaller loaves about 30 minutes or so.

Leave in the pan for about 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding and letting it cool on a rack completely.

(a bit of a lesson here… for some crazy reason I decided not to use greaseproof paper to line the pan – maybe because my smaller loaf pans were non-stick?  bad idea. though!  It is really easier and more convenient with greaseproof paper!!! our banana cake got a bit stuck and we had a crazy time trying to get it out.)

Anyway… for other variations –

butter loaf – use butter instead of oil.  Add 1/2 cup milk.  Increase vanilla to 1/2 tablespoon.  Optional but recommended – add 1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange extract.

chocolate loaf –  Add 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted) to the dry ingredients, and 1/2 cup milk to the wet ingredients.  Optional but delicious – add 1/3 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

cocomia loaf – use coconut oil, if desired (but optional), Add 1/2 cup coconut cream (coconut milk is ok too), and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut.  Fold in 1/3 cup coarsely chopped macadamias (lightly toasted) or sprinkle the macadamias on top of the batter (press lightly).

We had a great time (of course we chatted all the while…) but what I am happy about is that BFF did everything… I only offered guidance!

My proud moment?  I was going to show BFF how to fold the choco chips into the batter when B volunteered to demonstrate.  B folded the chips into the batter perfectly!!!  wooo hooooo!  I am ssoooooo happy that not only was she paying attention when we baked together, she actually remembered to do it right!  (super proud momma here!)

PS – she also made macaroons but more on that in the next post…