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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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!!!

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!

 

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!!!

00_2018 FC
(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)

Date Walnut Cake

This is a version that I specifically made for a special order five or six years ago.  Someone asked me if I could make a healthier version for her mom who loves dates and walnuts but has issues with fat/cholesterol, sugar… the usual culprits that make the lives of the elderly difficult.  After several experiments, this was the winner!

So, this cake – no egg, no butter or oil!  NO CHOLESTEROL!  Low is sugar, except for the inherent sugar in dates… AND, AND…  IT HAS A BEAUTIFUL TEXTURE (very moist!) AND GREAT TASTE!

Check out the (estimated) nutritional analysis –

date walnut cake nutr 1

6 years ago, I made about 60 of these (in addition to some others) in ONE day!  To be honest, the baking was not the part I found tedious.  It was the packing and washing.  You see, I DO NOT have 60 or so pans to bake in.  At most I have 8 or so (maybe 10 max) so the waiting time is tedious and then I have to wash up (and dry!) before I could use the pans again.  THEN!  I had to fold boxes (although the kid and hubby helped a lot) and tie ribbons, etc. etc.

These days, I am so relieved to find a baking pan and gift package in one!  The base is made of thick cardboard and is coated with some sort of film.  The cake is baked in it (the store said it was a direct-bake package) and cooled in it.  The cover is a clear plastic that fits perfectly.  It saves time, effort and money (the whole package costs less than a cake box and cake board)!  I love it!!!

 

 

Orange-Blueberry Baby Bundt Cake with Blueberry-Vanilla Rum Sauce

I recently found a “baby” bundt cake pan. It was perfect for my little electric oven. By ‘little’ I mean my oven is only slightly bigger than a toaster oven, and this means I have some difficulty finding pans that fit!

Anyway, the pan was about 6 inches across and could fit a recipe for a medium (8×4) loaf pan. I thought of using the orange loaf recipe and spiking it with rum instead of triple sec. Then, because I had some leftover blueberry filling, I decided to ‘make’ a tunnel of blueberry in the ‘baby’ bundt cake.

It baked up quite beautifully!

Then I thought it looked a bit plain.  It was fine by itself already but I wanted to gussy it up even more… so…

Since I still had some blueberry filling left over, I decided to make Blueberry-Vanilla Sauce that was spiked with rum to pour over the cake.  Of course to make the slice ever prettier for the picture so I laid the vanilla pod I used on top!

The recipe for the Blueberry-Vanilla-Rum Sauce –

Place about 1/3 cup of blueberry filling, 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons butter, and a vanilla pod (split and scrape the “caviar”) in a small, thick saucepan. Heat over a low flame until butter is melted and the mixture is barely simmering; remove from flame and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum.

 

Bourbon Brownie Birthday Cake

Hubby’s request was for a dark chocolate cake.

I had visions of a grand 2 or 3 layer cake, surrounded by bars of chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  The vision would not become a reality.  An accidental fall (not too serious, but serious enough that my ankle and elbow are stiff) prevented me from baking and frosting an elaborate cake.  So what to do?  Hubby cannot miss out on his birthday wish??!!!!!!

Enter these deep, dark, bitter chocolate brownies laced with bourbon!  Instead of baking the brownies in an 8-in square pan, I baked them in a 7-in round, which gave them a bit of height.  The brownie could not be plain ‘ole brownies so in went a quarter cup of bourbon.

(This particular bourbon is sentimental to me – it was one of the few bottles I took from my late father’s liquor cabinet before it went up in smoke)

The ganache used to garnish the cake was also laced with bourbon, but only about half a tablespoon.

Hubby loved it!

It was especially divine with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

 

Mommy’s Fruitcake

My mom, for Christmas, is famous for 3 things – her lasagna, her apple pie, and her fruitcake!

I have succeeded with the lasagna, and am still struggling with the apple pie… but with her fruitcake?  Hmmmm, I know I botched up her recipe!

Why do I say this?

Well, first of all, she has 3 recipes for fruitcake in her recipe collection.  I have no idea which one she used!

Then, I thought I had all the ingredients – I checked a week before to see if I had everything… and I did, except for some dried and glazed fruit, and brandy.  I got hubby to drive me to various baking supply stores and the wine shop to get what I needed.  Then I started soaking my fruit.  When  baking day arrived, I gathered my ingredients together and discovered, to my dismay (!) that my molasses had gone bad!!!  Too late to go out and find molasses so I used dark corn syrup instead…

Then I committed the ultimate “sin”… I failed to check the oven temperature, and I baked the fruitcakes a tad longer than I was supposed to!  After 4 decades of baking, I forget the most basic of rules!  (totally my fault because I decided to substitute pans – made the fruitcakes into cupcakes and a small loaf, instead of 2 medium loaves).

So, it really isn’t any wonder that my (mom’s) fruitcake did not resemble the original!

Don’t worry, I will try again.  In fact, I have 1.5 kilograms of fruit soaking in brandy right now!!!  (And yes, I got the molasses too!)  Now all I have to do is find the time to bake!

(Hubby says that the fruitcake is delicious, although it is a bit dry inside…)

 

 

Having Fun in the Kitchen!

There are days when I am stuck at home with nothing to do…  For such a day, I usually catch up on sleep or reading… or I have fun in the kitchen!

This particular day I went crazy… made orange-speckled mini cakes – 1 frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF’s birthday and the other one frosted with Yema Frosting, for a colleague.  (a bit more about yema in my next post.)

Then I made banana cupcakes and mini cupcakes – a dozen mini cupcakes frosted with Truffle Frosting for BFF still, half a dozen of mini cupcakes for another colleague AND a couple for the kid’s piano teacher, AND, of course, the kid!

I was tired after all that (plus the kitchen was HOOOOOTTTT!) but it was all worth it.