Sunday, January 25, 2009

Double Chocolate Black Forest Cake

Weekend is my time to bake! Starting January till the end of February, my work will be taking up most of my time. But I am really grateful for the arrangements that my engagement team has set up that allows us to have Wednesday early nights and working only one weekend day. During those times, I usually take the chance to bake - either for a cake request, or just for the sake of it. :)

I made this cake on Sunday morning - at about 3AM in the morning. :p I had been working on Saturday and we had a dinner appointment during the evening. I really enjoyed the dinner but this pushed back my baking schedule. So instead of baking Saturday night, I baked Sunday morning. This may be shocking to some people, but for me, this is such a wonderful time to spend with myself.

Today is Eva's birthday and I really wanted to bake her something special. She has been one of supporter in many areas of my life. I really cherish the friendship that we had and since I wasn't able to celebrate her birthday with her, I wanted to make it special for her. This cake is a 6" double chocolate black forest cake. The "double chocolate" is because the cake is made of 2 layers of chocolate sponge cake and filled with rum-chocolate frosting. The typical black forest cake is filled and frosted with rum-cream frosting but I've grown fond of using rum-chocolate frosting in its place. :)

I also experimented with different ratios of ingredients in the cake this time and I find that this cake is more on the sweet side. I will use less sugar in the future and dark chocolate (100% cocoa) for the filling (instead of bittersweet or 65% cocoa).

For those of you who are interested to try making this cake yourself, below is the recipe - courtesy of my dearest mother:

Cake Ingredients
10 egg yolks
5 egg whites
150 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs dark rum
100 g all purpose flour
35 g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100 g melted butter
rum simple syrup

Cake Method
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, egg whites, and sugar and mix on high for 10 minutes or until the mixture has triple in volume and form a thick ribbon-like texture when poured. Mix in the vanilla extract and dark rum until blended.

Using a spatula, fold in the sifted dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder) into the egg batter. Making sure to fold gently so that the mixture will not deflate. Once mixed, pour in the melted butter and mix to make sure that the butter is incorporated evenly in the batter. Note that the butter is heavy and so, it tends to sink to the bottom of the batter. Just be sure to mix it in the batter evenly.

Pour the batter on two 8" cake pans that have been sprayed with PAM and lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a cooling tray. When cakes are cooled, unmold from pan and brush the cake with rum simple syrup to moisten it.

Chocolate Filling Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
4 tbs sugar
5 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs dark rum

Chocolate Filling Method
In a medium metal mixing bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and cocoa powder. Cover the bowl with foil and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Once cooled, mix the cream using a hand mixer and a whisk attachment until the cream reached soft peaks. Add in the rum and mix until blended.

Assembly Ingredients
1 can of dark Bing cherries in light syrup
2 oz bittersweet chocolate squares
Chocolate decorations for the wall (optional)

Assembly Method
Place one cake on the cake board, flat side down, and spread some of the chocolate frosting. Arrange the cherries on the frosting and then cover with more chocolate frosting. Add on the second cake, flat side up, and brush the top of the cake with rum simple syrup. Frost the whole cake with the remaining chocolate frosting. Grate some chocolate and cover the top of the cake with it.

Decorate the cake as you please!

If you try this at home and you love it, all the credit would go to my mom! :)

Lightened Cheesecake

I've been experimenting with cheesecake lately and this is from a recipe that I found on foodnetwork. This cheesecake uses low fat ricotta cheese, low fat cream cheese, and light sour cream. I think this will definitely fit the description of a healthy cheesecake. :p

Slight modification that I made to the recipe is that I baked it on a waterbath. Bertha told me that even if a recipe doesn't call for a water bath, it is good to use it still so that the cake can retain its moisture and bake more evenly.

I baked this cheesecake on Friday after I went to Macy's to look for Kitchen Aid standing mixer. Macy's online store has the KA mixer on sale for 30% off and I really thought that it's a good deal. On top of that, I had thought of another brilliant idea: to buy it at the store and save on the shipping cost. HOWEVER, the Macy's store doesn't necessarily offer the sales and promotions that Macy's online store does. I felt so down when I found out. But baking this cheesecake ease my mood for the rest of the day. :)

I have no idea who or what this cheesecake is for, but I will start to look for victims now to share the "blessings."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake

Baking is really a very rewarding activity for me. I find it very relaxing, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it relieves all the stress that built up during the day. If that's not enough, getting positive feedback from friends who tried the cake and seeing their satisfaction in trying the work of your hands will definitely make baking worthwhile.

In the midst of my work's busy season, I realize that baking provides a channel for me to relax and be at peace with myself. Late at night, at about 12:30AM, I made this chocolate banana bundt cake - and I enjoyed every moment of it.

I've promised my coworkers that I would bake this chocolate banana bundt cake and bring it to work. They liked my banana bread and thought that this choco-nana bundt cake would be good as well. I've been preparing to make this cake for a while now. I bought the sour cream on Monday or Tuesday night and I bought the bananas on Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday I made the cake. :)

I have never made bundt cake before and I've been hesitating to make one because bundt cake pans tend to be more expensive than other cake pans. After a long internal debate, I came across this bundt cake pan and it wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be. I bought it right away! Since then, I've been researching on bundt cake recipes - looking for one that would be good for a first time bundt-cake-baker. This recipe from Baking Bites turns out to be pretty awesome! :) It's definitely worth a try!

The bundt cake looked glossy on the outside. I'm not quite sure as to why this is the case, but it got me worried for a bit this morning. But when I cut a slice of the cake, the inside looked very lovely (in my opinion, at least). I am truly content with this cake. I also think that my coworkers were pleased with this.

I only have a quarter of it left by the time I brought it home from work. And now, I think there's only 2 slices left in the box. I'm saving it for breakfast tomorrow. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

I have always wanted to try baking cakes using buttermilk but I somehow missed the opportunities a few times due to various reasons. There was even once when I had bought the buttermilk but didn't get to use it until it was expired and I had to throw it away. :( But I'm really glad to find Tartelette's recipe on chocolate buttermilk cupcakes.

In my personal opinion, this was the best tasting chocolate cupcake I had ever tried. And I'm giving all the credits to Tartelette! I think baking is more of a science than it is an art. Although cake decorating is a whole other topic on its own. :) I followed the recipe step by step and I managed to produce the cupcakes.

The texture of these cupcakes is moist and soft. You'll definitely be able to taste the dark chocolate and it is not too sweet. One adjustment I made to the recipe is the frosting. I tried the cream cheese frosting from this recipe, but it just didn't work for me. In its place, I made a whipped dark chocolate ganache frosting. The verdict: silky and rich!

I realized soon after I started making my first cupcakes that people are much more likely to try a mini cupcake than they would a regular cupcake. I guess size matters. So, for these cupcakes, I managed to baked 15 regular sized cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes. I also left some of the cupcakes unfrosted for those who are more health conscious.

I think I will definitely make this cake again in the future. I'll try using the cake recipe to make a regular cake (instead of a cupcake). I think my chocolate lover friends will definitely enjoy it. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Banana Bread

I'm on a baking frenzy these few days. I've been baking for about 3 days straight and I am very happy about this. I bought some bananas from Costco last week and the quantity from Costco is always more than what I need. As such, I have some very ripe bananas sitting on my counter top. I discussed with my coworkers as to what I should do with them. The choices that they came up with were: banana bread, banana pudding, or chocolate-banana bundt cake. Yes, they are quite the Southern people. :p

As you can see from the blog title, the winner is Mr. Banana Bread! I made the banana bread in an oval cake pan that I had bought in Indonesia and brought it here. It's typically used to bake cheesecakes, but I thought that oval banana bread would be pretty as well.

An added bonus for me for using the oval pan is that the banana bread will fit perfectly in this cute little box that Alvin's mom gave me. I just love the box! :)

My coworkers commented on the box - they said that the boxes always have some form of hearts on them. It's true! The square box for the cheesecake the I brought to the office has a heart-shaped window. This one has 3 little hearts printed on the sides. :)

As the Chinese saying goes: the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Chocolate & Green Tea Steamed Cupcakes (Bolu Kukus)

I don't like coming home to an empty house. It feels lonely for me. In order to make that somber feeling go away, I bake. This is the scenario for me last night. I had came home from work late (and will be until end of February) to an empty apartment. I don't like the silence; especially after going to a funeral last Saturday. So to fill my time, I made these steamed cupcakes. My mom taught me how to make these. :) I felt so much better after I baked! ^_^

I've always made these with pandan and rose extracts, but last night I felt like doing something a little different. I made these in green tea and chocolate flavor using matcha powder and cocoa powder. I think these give the cupcakes more flavor but it also weigh down on the batter. The result: although the cucpcakes blossom, they didn't open up as much. I think I'll stick to extracts in the future. :p

I brought a couple of these to work today and some of my coworkers tried them. Their comments are:

"this is interesting..."

"yossi, your cake always have interesting textures..."

"are you trying to choke me?!" --> upon finding out that the cake is steamed on a double broiler

I guess they're just not used to the idea or texture of a steamed cupcake. lol. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Sliced Lemon Compote

I've been wanting to try different types of cheesecake for a while but I just haven't had much opportunity for it. Now that I have 3 lbs of cream cheese, I have all the reason in the world to make a cheesecake. I don't have an occasion for this, other than an effort to do something else in life other than work. :p

I had heard of no-bake cheesecakes, but I've never tried them before - nor was I interested in it. I used to think that no-bake cheesecakes are fake cheesecakes, but I am now more open towards them. :) No-bake cheesecakes typically uses gelatin to held its structure together, but this recipe uses cornstarch instead of gelatin. The mixture is cooked almost in a similar fashion to making custard. The cheesecake is then chilled for "at least 16 hours before serving."

I thought that just the cheesecake alone would look plain, so I made some sliced lemon compote to decorate the cake. It was my first time ever making a compote and I'm not sure if I'm doing it the right way. I boiled sugar and water, and then added my lemon slices in. I covered the pot with paper towel and then remove the pot from heat. I waited for it to cool overnight before using it.

The lemon compote tasted bitter though. I think the next time I make compote, I'll boil the lemon slices first to remove some of the bitterness before adding it to the sugar mixture. I ended up rolling the lemon slices in sugar in an effort to cut down on the bitterness. I'm bringing it to the office and I'll see if I pass the test.
For the most part, my coworkers liked the cheesecake. I tried just a little piece of the cheesecake and I liked it too. It's not too sweet but it is a heavy cheesecake. As a note for future baking attempt, I will decrease the amount of cream cheese used and add more lemon juice into the cake. This way, the cake will be lighter and the lemon flavor will be more bold.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Update on Anniversary Baking

Yay! Thank goodness there's another camera in action during all these baking time for my parents' anniversary. :) These pictures are taken fresh on the day itself! These are candid shots of the cakes and I hope you'll enjoy them!

This is me trying to carefully spoon equal amounts of strawberry jelly on top of each strawberry mousse.

These are the 2 main trays of strawberry mousse - there are 3 more plates of these!

Yep, the strawberry mousse in the making! I really took up a LOT of space in the fridge that day :p

These are tiramisu in progress. We're dusting them with cocoa powder... at the last minute!
There are no pictures of the durian mousse - but from what I heard (from durian fans), they're pretty good. :p

Monday, January 12, 2009

Almond and Cheese Chiffon Cake

This is my first baking moment back in Houston. It had been an eventful weekend with a wedding and a funeral at the same weekend. I had a totally wonderful time during the wedding - every moment of it was very warm, fun, and memorable. I am very happy for my friends! I wish them all the love and joy in their marriage.

The funeral, on the other hand, was really depressing for me. I never would have thought that the last time I saw her (in December 2008 before my vacation to Indo) was the last time I ever saw her. I was really sad and confused. This incident really shook me up and made me realize that my time here is limited - I should make the best out of it.

Anyway - back to the Chiffon. When I was in Indo, my mom's friend came over to the Villa and cooked for us. She also taught me to bake a Chiffon cake with coconut milk (a new recipe!). But more than the new recipe, she gave me an idea to mix almond into the batter to give the cake a more unique feel. In this cake, I folded in grated cheddar cheese (Kraft from Indo) and sliced almonds.

I actually think that this is the best looking chiffon that I had ever made. The complexion of the cake was uniform throughout and the way the almonds and cheese showed up at the top was really nice too. The texture of the cake was also very soft and moist. Alvin ate 2 slices at once. And I think Ryan ate a couple of slices too. I ate a good slice myself too! I still have some leftover at home - let me know if you're interested! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baking for My Parents' 25th Anniversary

This Christmas was extra special because it's also my parents' 25th anniversary. We held a celebration of thanks at the villa and it was a beautiful day. :)

My mom has asked if I could make some desserts for that day and I was very honored to be given that opportunity. It was, however, much more work that what I had thought it would be. I planned to make 120 mini strawberry mousse cake and 120 petite tiramisu cups. My mom then added a request to make about 75 durian mousse in shot glasses. Of these 3, I only managed to take a picture of a plate of the strawberry mousse - and this was taken the day after the celebration.

We made most of the desserts the day before the anniversary and finished it all on the day of the anniversary. I was caught off guard by a lot of things on the big day of baking. Since I'm not baking in my own kitchen, everything was different. The oven in Indonesia is a gas oven, mine is an electric oven. This really affects the baking time for me. Also, my mom's mixer was a lot slower than the one I typically use. This really affects the preparation time for me. The humidity, the different ingredients, and even the different egg sizes really made the day interesting. But all that being said, it was such a fun experience.

The picture above is with my brother and I posing with the cake. Believe it or not, he helped out a lot in the making of the desserts. He was quite shocked by the amount of work that was put into making desserts. My sister was also a champion on that day. She helped out tremendously! She is officially a tiramisu expert now. :) I'm so proud of her!

After most of the guests left for the evening, the family then had some time to relax and take pictures! :) My little sister is making a heart shape with her fingers - she's so adorable! I can't believe she's 7 already!

The villa looks really nice at night. I can only share a picture with you, but you've got to see it yourself to really appreciate how pretty it is at night. :)
I didn't do that much baking in Indo. I did try some new recipes and learned to cook a few new dishes. Now that I'm back in Houston, I think I'll start my baking episodes again.