Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chocolate Rum Cake

I knew I was going to miss baking when I went back to Indo. That's why on the day of my departure from Houston, I had to make just one more cake. I had some heavy cream in the fridge that will go bad if I leave it for 3 weeks and so I decided to use it up.

This cake is a really simple. It's just moist chocolate sponge cake brushed with rum and filled and covered with chocolate Chantilly cream. I spiked the cream with rum as well to "lighten" the chocolate flavor.

Of course since I'll be leaving within a few hours that this cake was made, I need to give it to someone else. Who would be a better person to give this cake than the kind girl who sent us to the airport? Yep, it's all for Sylvia!

I really haven't heard from her about the cake. I'll definitely ask her opinion on it when I see here again. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

MIA in December

Yep, I'll be missing in December - not because I've stopped blogging or that I've stopped baking but because I'm in Indonesia right now with limited access to Internet and email as well as no access to my kitchen.

I missed baking a LOT.

I left for Indo on Dec 11th. Before that, my work was taking all of my time. During the first 10 days of the month, I had to travel to Alabama twice. I was only in Houston for one and a half days. which I used to prepare for my Indo trip (buying gifts, packing, and cleaning up my room).

Despite that, I managed to bake a chocolate cake on the 11th, before I had to leave for the airport. :p I'll upload the cake as soon as I get to the US.

I can't wait to see my kitchen and all my baking tools in Houston. See you all in January!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Forest Cake 3

I had promised my friend to bake a birthday cake for his wife's birthday but I totally forgot about it! I know... it's so awful of me. I felt really bad about it. Luckily, he gave me another chance to bake him a thanksgiving cake. His wife chose the black forest for her birthday and so I made the black forest cake as the thanksgiving cake. :)

This is 2 layers of moist chocolate sponge cake, brushed with rum simple syrup, a layer of chocolate rum cream, lots of dark bing cherries, and frosted with rum chantilly cream. I was thinking of experimenting with chocolate decorations, but I was a little scared of failure. I should be more adventurous next time, but since the cake is for a special occassion, I decided to play on the safe side.

I found this "Home Made" stickers at Michael's and I thought that it would be perfect for all my cake orders. :) My cakes are as home made as it can be. :) I'm really grateful for all my friends and families who constantly encourage and support me in my baking. Alvin has also been such a support for me. I hope I continue to learn and improve in the future.

Blueberry Cupcakes

Just before I left for one and a half week, I had to bake something. I don't quite know what I wanted to bake, but I've been crazy about cupcakes lately so I thought I'll experiment with it. I'm trying out new recipes to find the best cupcake recipe. The cupcake that I like is the cake-y one, more on the light side - maybe a little fluffy too. :) Anyways, I think I baked these for a minute too long. The top of the cupcakes were a little dry. I'll reduce the bake time next time. :)

Since I was going away, I donated these to Suhi & Suha Thanksgiving Potluck. :)

There's another story behind these blueberry cupcakes. I had frosted the cake in the morning, after putting the frosting in the fridge overnight. Despite all those cooling, the buttercream started to melt as I made the swirls. The apartment was too hot for the buttercream. We had turned the heater up to 80F at the apartment. This resulted in some ugly swirls. :p Anyways, I got a feedback that it was "bherry... bherry" good. Yay!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chocolate Pudding Filled Cupcakes

Today's entry is really adopted from the Mexican Chocolate Pudding Filled Cupcake recipe that I found on Martha Stewart. If you click on the link, it'll take you to a video on how to bake the cupcake. I changed the recipe a little for my mini cupcakes. Since I don't have any Mexican chocolate, I just replaced it with regular bittersweet chocolate. Also, instead of pulling out a chunk of the cupcake to make room for the chocolate pudding, I just squeezed it right in. For a little decoration, I sprinkled white chocolate shavings on top.

I brought these to the Cocktail Dinner for my friend's bachelorette party and of course, I had to use the mini cupcake stand for presentation! I love this new tool that I bought. :)

The cross-section of the cupcake in the above picture will show you how it looks like with the chocolate pudding inside. The feedback I got from these cupcakes are that the frosting is super yummy, the variation in texture (between the cupcake, pudding, and frosting) is complimentary, and the chocolate taste is really rich. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cotton Cheese Cake

This is the special guest for the weekend (and Monday too!). My dear friend who's getting married soon and I'm so happy for her! One of her favorite thing is the limited edition kraft cheese from Indo. Yes, it is extremely hard to find here in Houston. That's why I am so grateful for my mom who brought me some from Singapore and for Jane who also brought me some from Indo. *muach*

This cake is made of 2 layers of moist cotton cake, vanilla buttercream, lots of grated kraft cheese, and covered in more buttercream and cheese. I'm glad that when we finally tried it today on our small group, my girlfriends liked it. :)

You may also wonder what it is that I drew on top of the cake. Yes, it is rather badly disfigured. It is actually my attempt to draw women's undergarment. A few of my friends suggested making "exotic" cakes, but I just couldn't bring myself to bake one. This is about as close as I can get to that. :p

More Sugar Cookies

Both Cess and I worked hard on these. Making the sugar cookie dough was the easiest part of this whole wedding themed cookies effort. After making the dough, we chilled it in the freezer for about 1 hour and then we rolled out the dough. The rolling part requires some muscle work. Cess was there to witness my wrestle with the dough. :p The fun part was using the cookie cutters to make the dough into fun shapes! For this occasion, I had especially bought a bride and groom cookie cutter. :)

I also bought a dress-shaped cookie cutter for the wedding dress!

The mini heart shapes are the easiest one to decorate because there aren't a lot of curves and patterns to fill in. :) I like these a lot though because I think it's such a classic.

Here are the cookies that we made. :) Cess and I regretted the fact that we were too ambitious up front with the decorations. By the end of the day, I'm loving toothpicks (the "tool" we used to fill in the cake).

Cess mentioned that her friend wanted the sugar cookies recipe and the royal icing recipe. So here they are...

Sugar Cookies (adapted from Alton Brown)

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs milk

First, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Using the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in additions. Beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Sprinkle surface with powdered sugar and roll out one of the dough into 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the rolling pin with powdered sugar as well. Cut into desired shape and bake for 8 minutes, turning midway.

Line on baking sheet for 2 minutes after baking and then transfer to the cooling rack. Once cooled, the cake is ready to be decorated.

Royal Icing (adapted from Diana's Desserts)

3 egg whites, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
A few drops of vanilla extract or fresh lemon juice (optional)

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt on medium-low speed until blended. If adding vanilla or lemon juice, add it now. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture is nearly triple in volume, 7 to 8 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to use.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Raspberry Mini Cupcakes

One last time before I leave for Georgia. Yep, I'll be gone till Wednesday and I'll be missing my kitchen a LOT. So as a token of farewell, I'm baking a LOT this weekend. :p

My friend's 2nd wedding committee meeting is today and I am so excited about it because it means that I have a reason to bake. This time the menu is Pandan Chiffon Cake, Mini Eclairs, and Raspberry Mini Cupcakes. Yay! :)

I had previously made Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes and it is quite warmly welcomed by my friends (i.e. they liked it). So I'm now trying variations of it and turning it into a raspberry cupcake. My experience from making cupcakes for my Indo friends is that they are very reluctant to eat a regular sized cupcake. I think it may be too intimidating for some reason - large cupcake means more icing means more calories. That's my guess. :p

This time I wasn't very creative in my decorations. It's simply because I want to practice making good swirls and plus, it's for a WEDDING committee. The hearts are a must!

I think this recipe is rather simple to follow and it is almost fool proof. So, here goes (adapted from Martha Stewart):

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup raspberry puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F and line muffin tins with cupcake liners
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl
  3. Mix together milk, vanilla extract, and raspberry puree
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter until creamy and fully
  5. Gradually add sugar to the butter until thoroughly mixed and fluffy
  6. Add the egg and egg whites into the batter and mix until combined
  7. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops are just dry to the touch.
  9. Let cool completely before icing.

Now, for the icing:

1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs raspberry puree
a pinch of salt


  1. Beat the butter and salt until creamy and fluffy
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until light
  3. Add the vanilla extract and raspberry puree until well combined

Have fun and enjoy! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

French Macarons

Another one to cross off from the to-do list: French Macarons. I've been wanting to make this ever since I saw them on Tartlette's and Madbaker's blog. They just looked so cute, especially with the little "feet." Apparently the success of macarons depends on whether or not they have "feet," because macarons without feet is really not macarons at all!

One of the few reasons I've been postponing my macarons adventures were that almond flour is expensive and that the batter is fragile. I've read many articles and blogs about macarons and it seemed like the success of macarons is not always guaranteed. According to Tartlette, just one too many folds of the batter can cause the end of the batter.

Look, my macarons have little feet! I was so excited when I opened the oven and saw that my macarons actually have feet and they looked pretty (at least the first batch was pretty). I made the strawberry and the green tea ones first. My blackberry ones can't fit on my cookie sheets and so had to wait for a while. I don't know if it's the waiting or the over-folding, but 90% of my blackberry ones have cracked tops. I ended up throwing them away cause I can't use them. :(

Alvin is my witness that stacking up macarons is not an easy task. I've always seen pictures of them stacked together and I thought that it would be easy to do so. Apparently, not all of my macarons have flat tops. Some of them have a little bit of a dome and thus the uneven surface for stacking. When I finally managed to stack them up, I had to be real still so that they don't fall. I liked how the picture turned out though. Again, it's not the most artistic one, but it's my best for now.

The above picture shows the survivors of the blackberry macarons. Yes, of all the blackberry ones I made, only 3 pairs managed to come out of the oven with no cracks. I was a little sad when I opened the oven and saw that all of them were cracking up (literally). My coworker liked this one best. :)
I'm always very happy when others enjoy my desserts. It makes all the time and effort I put in worthwhile. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I've made cookies before since I was in Singapore (although not very often), but I have yet to make a cut out cookie until this time. I've typically made chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter cookies or oatmeal raisin cookies that can't really be made into shapes - except for somewhat round shape. So this time, while thinking of ideas for my friend's bridal shower party, I tried making sugar cookies.

This is also my first time making royal icing. It turns out that making the icing is so much easier than decorating with it. I used a no. 1 tip to make the outline, but it still produces thick lines. I think I put too much pressure while squeezing the pastry bag. I shall try better next time. :)

I love how the colors turned out. The pastel colors gave a subtle feeling to the cookies. As you may notice above, the green and orange hearts are glossy while the blue and pink hearts are matte. This is because the picture is taken before the orange and green icing dried.

Since I only had 2 cookie cutters when making these, I can only make hearts and flowers. The speech bubble above is a free hand attempt of using left-over cookie dough. :p

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcake

After digging through, I found a recipe on Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcake. For those of you not familiar with Sprinkles', it is the first cupcake only store that was opened in LA. This chain is so popular that you would see people lining up just to buy cupcakes. One of their cupcake is $3.25 but if buy by the dozen, it's $3/each. :)

To be honest, I've never tried their cupcake before. I've heard a lot about it from friends, but I just didn't have a chance to try it when I was still in California. From what I heard, Sprinkles' is also opening a branch here in Houston. :)

This is my first time icing a cupcake to make it sweet and pretty. This is actually a try-run for my friend's bridal shower cakes. I'm still not sure on what to bake for her. So many ideas are floating through my head. :) I'll slowly trim it down during the next couple of weeks. :)

As for this cupcake, it's strawberry cupcake with strawberry icing. The frosting is really very sweet. When I told Nana about this, she mentioned that Sprinkles' frosting are indeed very sweet. I think the next time I make this, I'll use Swiss meringue strawberry buttercream instead. It should be fluffier and less sweet. :)

One recipe makes 12 cupcakes and 10 mini cupcakes for me. Now I need to figure out how to finish these. :p Any helpers interested?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baking with Donna: Eclairs

First of all, a BIG congratulations to Donna! And to Handy too! I am very happy for both of you and I can't wait to see you both live happily ever after. :)

Donna has been wanting to learn how to make eclairs for a while now. The first time she mentioned this to me was about 2-3 months ago when I brought some to our bible study group. The idea was silent for a while and it surfaced back up early this week. And we did it! Donna baked wonderful eclairs and we both had lots of fun baking together. The only thing that I regretted was the fact that it was SO hot in the apartment. Yes, I had turned the temperature cooler, but I forgot to turn on the A/C. :p

Monday, November 3, 2008

Very Strawberry Cake

The new Costco had opened near my apartment and I am excited! I love Costco! This new store is huge and it has lots of fresh fruits. When I went there, the strawberries were just so beautiful I had to buy some!

This cake is made of 2 layers of moist cotton cake, a generous serving of fresh strawberries, and strawberry Chantilly cream. It's my first time making a cake with cotton cake base. I really like the cake because it's really light and fluffy. Since the cake is baked in a water bath, it is also very moist. I think I will use cotton cake more often. :)

I don't really have an occasion for this cake except for using my strawberries while they're still fresh. I am looking for "victims" to try this new cake I made. :) If you're in town and interested, let me know. :p

The cake design is really simple. It's my effort to show off my pretty strawberries as best I could. :)

Japanese Melon Bun

This is another one on my must-try list: Japanese Melon Bun. I got the recipe from Happy Home Baking.

After I was done with mine, I looked at HHB's blog again to see if what I have is close to the original recipe and I realized that it's not at all! My pastry layer was different that what HHB had. I think that it's because I had used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. The all purpose flour is "heavier" and it may be the cause of my downfall in this recipe. I was out of cake flour while I was in the middle of making my pastry layer and I was lazy to drive to the grocery store. I guess it's the price I have to pay for being lazy.

I will definitely try this again in the future - and next time, I'll use cake flour. :)

Apple Cupcake with Brown Sugar Icing

Since I was done with busy season at work, I thought that I should try a new recipe and explore this weekend. I did and I dragged Nana into it. I originally wanted to bake the Butterscotch Mascarpone Cream Layer cake from Tartlette but I wasn't successful in making it. The cake layers turned out to be very oily (greasy) and dense. I am not quite sure as to where I went wrong, but I'll try that cake again in the future. After the failed baking incident, I am still curious about trying new recipe. After some google-ing, I found this apple cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart.

For the Apple Cupcake

(Makes 2 Dozen)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, such as Macintosh (about 1 3/4 pounds)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to low; mix in apples.
  7. Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.
  8. Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes.
  9. Remove cupcakes from tins; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For the Brown Sugar Buttercream

(Makes about 2 cups)

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons


  1. Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk until mixture registers 160 degrees, about 4 minutes.
  3. Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added).
  5. Beat until frosting is smooth and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Mango Mousse Cake II

Nana was in town this weekend! What an awesome time! I am so very happy that my best friend ever came over to visit. She had requested that I made petite tiramisu cake to welcome her but I didn't have time to make one (since I just finished another super busy season at work), so I decided to make her a petite mango mousse cake instead.

I had bought a lot of mini cake rings that I was just dying to use and I really had fun making these. Baking is very enjoyable for me and I am very glad to be able to share the joy with others.

One of my friend from San Jose had requested Nana to bring back some of my baking and so I did. Yes, Nahing, I did - so you can go bother her for some. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Strawberry Pizza

When I was making the cotton cake, I had leftover batter. So I made it into s strawberry pizza! I feel like decorating tonight, so I thought that I'd make something simple that doesn't require washing dishes. :p

I'm also practicing taking good pictures of my baking. I'm not very good with camera, but as they say, practice makes perfect. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Strawberry Cotton Cake

Work has been taking a LOT of my time this past couple of months. This past couple of weeks, however, had been quite a challenge for me. I had a lot to do with so little time and not much experience. But I know that in all things, God will work for the good of those who loves Him. On top of that, I know that in my weakness, He is made strong. :) I'm really thankful for my job and my coworkers who've been so much fun to work with. I'm also very thankful for Alvin; he's always there to cheer me on! :)

Anyways, tonight I just had to bake. Even though it's late at night and I have to go to work tomorrow morning (or in the next few hours), I really feel that I should do something outside of work for myself. And here is what I did:

It's a strawberry cotton cake! The texture of the cakes are really soft and they look so adorable! I used my Bertha's Blueberry Cotton Cake recipe and made it pink. :)

After all that waiting (40 minutes in the water bath), I just had to take a bite! Some of you may know that I don't usually eat my own cake. I feel more satisfied when others try my baking and tell me how they feel about it. But Bertha told me that I should at least take a bite to find out how the cake(s) taste like to see if I actually like the cake. It's true that people have different preferences.

I really think I'll make this cotton cake more often (and with more variations) but with less sugar. It's a little on the sweet side for me. :) I thought of decorating it by putting icing on the cake, but the cake is so light that I think butter cream would be an overkill to the cake.

I'll definitely bring this to the office tomorrow for a test drive. :p

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creme Brulee

I've been wanting to make creme brulee for a while now and I finally got the chance to. This whole thing started with a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond, which I used to buy the blow torch used for creme brulee. Since then, I've been dying to use it for creme brulee.

I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe for this:

1-1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbs sugar for crust

It's really simple to make. First boil the cream and milk in a saucepan. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract with a whisk to blend. When the cream-milk mixture has boiled, slowly pour 1/4 of the liquid to the egg mixture while continuously whisking it to temper the egg mixture. Then pour the remainder of the liquid into the egg mixture, stirring constantly until well blended. Strain the mixture into 6 ramekins and bake on top of a cookie sheet for 50-60 minutes at 200F.

When done, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Once cooled, sprinkle 1 tbs of sugar on top of the custard and use a torch to melt the sugar.

Ta da! It's done!

I tried modifying one of them by sprinkling green tea powder on top of the custard. I don't know how it turned out cause I haven't had a bite of that one. :p

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chocolate - Chocolate Chunk Muffins

We've had to work hard this month and I really want to make something nice for my team at work. They've been fun to work with and very willing to help one another out. :) I feel really blessed to have such nice friends at work. So, I decided to bake some muffins for them.

This one is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours.

6 tbs unsalted butter
4oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line muffin pan with paper cups.

Melt the butter and half of the chocolate in a double boiler and then remove from heat. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). In a large glass or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour the liquid mixture and the chocolate-butter mixture into the dry ingredients and with a spatula or whisk, gently but quickly stir to blend. Stir in the remaining chocolate.

Divide equally between the muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

I'll be bringing this to work on Monday. I hope they'll enjoy this breakfast as a way to ease into Monday. :)

Green Tea Cream Cake II

It's been a while since I bakes a "new" cake. Even this is really not a new cake but I thought it would be different enough to post. :)

I've been putting pictures of my cake in facebook and since then, people have been asking me about my cakes. Some even ordered cake from me. For all of you, I really thank you for your support and feedback.

This one is a surprising order because I don't really know the person personally (i mean, we're not very close) but somehow through his wife's fb account, he messaged me. The cake is also for no special occasion. :) It's definitely a blessing from God. The last time I made a green tea cream cake, I got the feedback that the cake was a little too dense. So, on this one, a new and improved (hopefully) version of the cake that's lighter. I also played around with tinting white chocolate (to green in this occasion).

I don't think I'll be able to taste this cake, but I'll definitely ask for feedback from them. :) I'll update the blog when I get the answer.