Saging at Yema

I recently made cupcakes with caramel and frosted with caramel buttercream. It is superb combination that is universally liked. But an idea popped into my head after baking a yema-topped cake (joining the bandwagon of yema cakes that have sprouted in many malls!) for a friend…

I wondered what would happen if I frosted my banana cupcakes with yema? Hmmmm…

Yema, after all, is a close relative of caramel… Yema, in the traditional sense is a candy made from egg yolks, milk and sugar (and the “secret” ingredient that is dayap!).

So, what is yema anyway?  According to pepper.ph –

Yema is Spanish for “egg yolk,” and is most likely a reference either to its golden-yellow appearance or to its composition (traditionally a batter of egg yolks, lime peel, and sugar). Intensely rich and similar in texture to the French crème brûlée, it is sometimes made more decadent by the addition of a thin, crisp coating of caramelized sugar. Wrapped in squares of colorful cellophane, yema can be purchased everywhere, from sari-sari stores, roadside stalls, to street vendors outside churches, as well as a few select groceries and bakeries.

Anyway, I experimented with using yema as base for the frosting.  As a safety net, I also frosted some with caramel buttercream and truffle frosting… and was quite amazed at the result! Everybody preferred the yema-banana combination over everything else!

Wow!

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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.

 

Caramel-Banana Cupcakes

There are 2 ways to infuse the banana cupcake with caramel – add it to the batter (take away some of the sugar while you’re at it) or swirl it in the batter (in the cupcake pan) right before baking.  I chose to add to the batter.  Then to intensify the caramel-ness, the cupcakes were frosted with caramel buttercream.

To make your own caramel is not difficult, as long as enough you keep an eye on it.  I remember when I first started to make caramel and I would always, always burn it, until a friend told me her secret.  Nope, not using a thermometer… rather, the crucial equipment is a…. TIMER!  The magic number? 7!

First, set your timer to 7 minutes.  Then place 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla paste in a thick-bottomed pot.  (Add a pinch of salt if desired.)  Set the heat to medium.  Stir the mixture occasionally.  Once the mixture boils, start your timer.  Stir occasionally.  When the timer beeps, turn off the heat.  Let is cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a heat-resistant bottle.  Cool completely.  Store in the fridge for 4 to 5 weeks.

To make the caramel buttercream, beat 1 cup softened butter.  Gradually add 1/2 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar (by spooonfuls).  Stir in 1/2 cup caramel; beat a couple of minutes, or until fluffy (don’t over-do it.)

 

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.

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!

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

For a quick fix, nothing beats a cupcake.  And, if you are in a hurry, mini cupcakes bake up even faster!

The chocolate fudge cupcake recipe I used (slightly varied to suit my personal taste and style) is from this site:  http://yourfoodtube.com/easy-italian-cupcakes-nutella-buttercream-tasty-dessert/

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon golden rum
1/2 cup hot water

Combine the dry ingredients together.  Add melted butter, eggs and rum.  Stir to mix.  Add hot water; stir.

Spoon the batter into 24 mini cupcake tins (lined with paper liners).  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for about 14 to 16 minutes.  Cool in pans for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, I used an American-style Cocoa Buttercream.

Fast, easy, delicious!  Even if I barely had time!

 

Halloween Spiders

I couldn’t let the little girl down.  Not when she was excited about Halloween… well, let’s just say, she is partially excited.  She doesn’t like the horror side of it, but she definitely loves the getting treats part!

But the truth was, I was not prepared for Halloween.  Because she had repeatedly said she did not like Halloween – too scary, she said.

Then, at the last minute, she wanted something for Halloween!  I suspect it had more to do with the treat part!

So for her Halloween treat this year… I made a short-cut.  I had seen a pack of gummy spiders – perfect I thought!

The little girl refused to eat them!!!  The spiders were too creepy…

So we took the gummy spiders off and after that she was fine with eating the cupcakes!

What is the recipe?  Easy (did a shortcut too!) buy regular cupcakes, “draw” a continuous circle and score with a toothpick to make a web design.  Then plop a gummy spider on top!

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Buttercream

I made this some time ago, upon the request of a friend for his birthday.

Choco Cupcakes 2

He wanted chocolate cupcakes, but wanted cookie butter frosting, as it was the rage then.  And, he wanted “real” cookie butter cookies, so I sprinkle some crushed cookie “dust” on top.

I used my family’s secret recipe for the cupcake (and so far have no permission from my elders to share it) and found inspiration for the cookie butter buttercream in the little kitchen.

In my case, however, I used salted butter wholly and amped up the cookie butter to 1 cup.  I also lessened the sugar to almost half, which resulted in a softer buttercream (not stiff at all).  It was still pipe-able but it could not stand at room temp.

Still it was a big hit!