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!

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!

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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Tablea Chocolate Cake

Tablea is what we call our locally produced, pure cacao tablet.  Recently, a friend gave me a pack of tablea that she claimed was the renowned one in her province…

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And while I could use them to make sikwate – a hot chocolate beverage made with locally produced tablea, I decided I wanted to make something else… a chocolate cake using tablea!

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The basis for my cake is from the local Yummy magazine – http://www.yummy.ph/recipe/chocolate-tablea-cake-a185-20120319.  I used about 100 grams of tablea.

So how does the tablea chocolate cake compare with the regular chocolate cake?  Well, there is a different dimension to the the tablea choco cake and a slight tang but it was delicious in its own special way!

 

 

 

Year of the Fruitcake

For someone who does not like fruitcake, it is THE one thing that I have been baking consistently and regularly this year!

I started early – in August! Testing various recipes, trying to formulate my own, trying different fruit mixes… even re-working my recipe (of last year) that I had already thought was THE fruitcake recipe for me.

This year I ventured into different kinds of fruitcake – a black one, a white one, a boiled one, a dry one… all with one thing in common – RUM!

So, I decided to make one dedicated to RUM!  In fact, the recipe uses a total of 1½ cups of it!

Basically, I used my favorite pound cake recipe and added rum to it.  I added a mix of dried and candied fruit (pre-soaked in more rum) then after baking, I brushed even more rum (!) on the cake!

What did hubby think of this fruity rum cake?  He LOVED it!

(and yes, it is the last one for this year…)

 

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Earlier this week, one of hubby’s friends asked me if I had a good chocolate cake recipe.  Of course I did!  In fact, I have more than a few!  Here is one for an old-fashioned chocolate cake.

2¼ cups cake flour
1 cup Dutch-style cocoa
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup soft butter
3 eggs
¾ cup sour cream
1⅓ cups 2% milk
½ tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350℉.  Butter and line 3 8 or 9-in layer pans.

Combine dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Spoon into prepared pans.  Bake 22 to 28 minutes.

Fill with dulce de leche.  Frost with ganache.

The original recipe had a custard filling but I prefer dulce de leche!

 

 

Fruitcake!

Personally, I thought fruitcakes are just bricks.  But maybe that was because most commercial fruitcake were, well… hard… too sweet… tasted weird…

Until my mother’s fruitcake.  And even then I ate sparingly.

Just my luck that the person that’s the center of my life loves fruitcake!  And apparently, so do many others…

So this year, I have decided I will make fruitcake.  Oh, not the fruitcake that I came up with especially for hubby (that one is a bit complicated) but one that I adapted from my mother’s recipe, which was rich in glazed fruit and raisins and nuts.  My adaption consists of using considerably less glazed fruit and raisins and more mixed dried fruit, which includes dates, apricots, candied cherries, prunes, dried mango and walnut!  My mother also fed her fruitcakes brandy, but for me?  Nothing but my best rum!  (Sadly, though, I do not her permission to reveal her recipe)…

So, I have soaked my fruits for at least 2 nights, in… yep, you guessed it, rum (!) and this long weekend break, I am ready to make my fruitcake!  They will feed on rum for at least 6 weeks, after which, the lucky recipients will get their Christmas gift!

 

 

Happy Birthday Hubby!

It is tough when a person’s birthday falls on a work day. Celebrating gets a bit tricky. Trying to squeeze in a surprise cake? Nearly impossible with an excited kid threatening to reveal the secret!

Anyway, hubby almost always challenges me with his birthday requests. This year, hubby requested dulce de leche! And, I aim to please… and more…

The cake almost did not make it on time. I had to wait for hubby to go to his meeting, and even then, I only had a window of about two and a half hours! Talk about photo finish!

Then we had the problem of where to hide it so he wouldn’t see it… but that became moot when the kid virtually led him to it. Oh well… it was about an hour to midnight, so might as well!

Happy Birthday Sweetie! Whoever said “I know there are good men because I married one” echoes my sentiments!