Monday, March 23, 2009

Blackberry and Strawberry Napoleons

It may be too soon to post an entry on the same kind of dessert within a week, but I'm crazy about Napoleons right now. They're so simple to make (thanks to Peppridge Farm) and so yummy! You almost can't go wrong with these. :)

As mentioned in the previous post, I made the Strawberry Napoleon for Sylvia last time and while making it, I had cream to spare for 2 and a half Napoleons. I gave two of them to Sylvia and left the half at home for my roomies and Alvin to try. It turns out that Mery (my roomie) likes it so much that she wants more. :p Of course, I had to make some more. :)

Now. I've only seen regular Napoleons and Strawberry Napoleons in La Madeline and the other dessert places that I've been too. But blackberries are in season right now AND they are 5 for $5 at H-E-B. It's a MUST BUY for me when those berries are on sale. :) I ended up with 3 boxes of blackberries and I had absolutely no idea what to use them for. So I thought, why not use them for Napoleons? So I did - but I haven't tried it and so I don't know if they'll be a good combo. :p But, they sure look cute. :)

I don't know how fast/slow these will be consumed at home but if there's still some in the fridge and you're interested to give these a taste, let me know. :)

Also, I was listening to KSBJ on the way back from work yesterday and the lady was talking about how people nowadays have the wrong image of God and men. She pointed out that we need to look into God's words to find the right image of God and the right image of ourselves. She also mentioned about a verse in the book of Peter (I forgot which chapter or verse) that said:

"Jesus was rejected by men but chosen by God and therefore precious."

Her words really hit me that night (and I still feel the impact right now). I realized that my self worth doesn't depend on how others view me; it depends on how God views me. I may be rejected by men, but I am loved by God and therefore I am precious - not because I'm worthy of His love, but because while I'm still a wretched person, He first loved me.

I just thought to share this thought with you and maybe, just a little bit of maybe, it will encourage somebody else.

Cheese Chiffon is Back!

Yep, the cheese chiffon craze is back for me! It's been so long since I made these, my favorite cake of all time. :) I've been so caught up with chocolates, fondant, and other cake experiments that I forgot to make this simple cake. Several incidents that caused me to bake chiffon cakes are (1) a request for the recipe and (2) a request for the cake.

The recipe for this cake is really simple actually. It's just like any other chiffon cake recipe where you beat the egg whites separately and then fold it into the egg yolk mixture. In the many times I made this cake, I've only ruined it twice. :p I don't know if the probability is good or bad, but it is what it is. :)

My Mom's Famous Chiffon Cake

8 eggs, separated
50g + 150g sugar
100 ml milk
100 vegetable oil
140 g all purpose flour
20g cornstarch
20g milk
1tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
Processed cheddar cheese from Kraft, shredded to cover the cake
Buttercream, any kind that you like

Heat the oven to 350F and get ready your chiffon cake pan. In a large bowl, combine the milk, oil, and 50g of sugar and mix until well combined using a hand mixer (1-2 minutes). Add to the liquid the flour, milk, and cornstarch and mix until well combined. Then add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In another large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy and add a pinch of salt. Continue whisking until you reach soft peaks. Add the sugar slowly and continue to mix at high speed until you get a glossy meringue with medium peaks.

Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture in additions, being careful not to over deflate the batter. Add some of the shredded cheese in the batter if you like. Pour the batter to the pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until tester inserted to the center of the cake comes out clean. Once the cake is fully baked, take it out of the oven and hang it upside down (my chiffon pan has feet - if yours doesn't, just hang it upside down from a narrow necked bottle) until the cake cools to room temperature (I usually just leave the cake hanging overnight).

Unmold the cake, frost it with buttercream, and cover it with the shredded cheese. Ta-da!!

I had lots of fun with the cake and it's always been popular among my Indonesian friends. Give it a try - my mom's recipes are treasures to be cherished. :p

Saturday, March 21, 2009


According to Kim, "tiramisu" is my favorite word and it's one that I would say at least once a day. I have to admit, the word does feel good in my mouth and the cake is one of my favorite as well. :) The last time I made this was with Velina when I was in Austin last weekend and now I have a chance to make another one for Ko Haniel's birthday.

I once again used my favorite tiramisu recipe from Joy of Baking, which uses a custard based cream instead of using whipped cream. I liked the custard-based tiramisu because I think that custard has less fat than whipped cream and it also has more textured flavor. After lots of times making this dessert, I've made very minor changes to the recipe to make it "healthier" for my personal psychological benefit (it means that it's okay to eat more). I highly recommend this recipe for you to try if you're a big fan of tiramisu and if you're a big fan of rum. :)

Lately I've been reminded of a saying: be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry. I just thought to share it with you all. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strawberry Napoleon

The first time I tried this dessert was in La Madeline, one my favorite cafes in TX. :) I've tried making a replica once before and it's far from the original Strawberry Napoleon from La Madeline. This time, I have another opportunity to make the dessert for a friend. :) Overall, I think that I learn a lot from this session (i.e. there's quite a bit of disaster involved in the process hahaha).

I initially wanted to make the dessert Tuesday night, since it's due on Thursday and I was going to the Rockets game Wednesday night, but the Napoleon I made on Tuesday was not up to standard at all. :p The puff pastry didn't puff up evenly and it just didn't look very nice. So I made it again Wednesday night after the game (btw, it's a really good game - I love watching the Rockets life in action!). I think that the ones I made last night was better than the first try. :)

The key for me this time was to cut the puff pastry dough in one clean move and therefore the dough will rise beautifully (instead of sticking together at the ends). I also put a second baking pan on top of the puff pastry to add some weight and helped in ensuring even heights for the pastry. I filled the dessert with Diplomat Cream (my favorite cream of all time made from custard lightened with whipped cream) and slices of fresh strawberries. I sprinkled the top with some chocolate sprinkles I brought from Indonesia.

Just to give an image to compare, below is a picture of the first try in making the Strawberry Napoleon. It's messy and has uneven pastry layer. I'm not too happy with the look of this one.

I gave the imperfect one to Sylvia to bring home and enjoy. Because even though the appearance may not be too good, the taste is yummy! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes

My life at work is now slowing down. No more tight deadlines and no more late nights in the office working. It's really nice to relax after 2 full months of straight work. :) I must say though that somehow things always come up to fill up my days - and I am thankful for these as I would've been bored with nothing to do. :p

I made these for fun last night, realizing that I had leftover IMBC from my cakes last week and I'd rather put it to good use than waste it away in the fridge until it turns bad. I also spent some time last night practicing to make buttercream roses (thanks to Shiendry who taught me how to make the roses - I need plenty of practice though >_<). It's really fun playing around with buttercream and being amazed at how stiff my hands are at making roses. :p

I used Tartelette's recipe for these cupcakes and they are yummy! I really liked her recipes and the beautiful pictures she posted on her blog. I really think that these are worth to try at home. The recipe is simple and it makes a LOT of mini cupcakes in one go. :)

I also had some chocolate IMBC leftover and I used them to frost some of the cupcakes as well. I brought the chocolate ones to work today and I think my coworkers liked it. :) It's always a nice feeling when other enjoyed something that I baked.

Also, I've been asked by several people for the recipe of the chiffon cake and the very strawberry cake. I'll be posting those real soon - I don't have them together in one file and so I'll have to compile them before sharing it with all of you. Sorry for the delay.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teddy Bear Cake

I've made cakes in large quantities before, but nothing compared to this cake order. :) Last month, Ellen called me about making the cake for Baby J's first birthday. She had seen some of the fondant cakes I made and asked if I could make one for her baby boy. It's such an honor for me... I'm a novice at baking and even more with fondant, but to be given the opportunity to explore and learn, I am really grateful.

We spent some time discussing how the cake should look, the theme of the party, and the flavors of the cake. As we keep in mind that little children will be consuming the cake, we can't have any alcohol in the cake. So, tiramisu is out and so is black forest cake (my 2 favorite cakes). We also can't have cakes with caffeine, so coffee and mocha cakes are out too. Green tea is not quite good for little kids too, so it's out. *sigh* We finally settled on good old fashioned vanilla chocolate cake for the 8" round cake and chocolate vanilla cake for the half sheet cake.

In terms of design, Ellen wanted a teddy bear themed cake with blue as the background color. I think I managed to hit the high points in the request with this cake. :) The idea for the cake started with the desire to make a teddy bear birthday cake that is unique but at the same time, kid-friendly. I've seen a lot of teddy bear cakes and they are all cute and adorable, but I wanted to make one that's slightly different. So I thought of Care Bears (a cartoon I watched growing up) and I thought that bears sitting on a cloud would be cute. Alvin further expanded the idea to include rainbows with Baby J's name on it to make the cake merrier.

The half sheet cake was supposed to be a simple buttercream cake but as I'm in a fondant mood and the fact that I was running out of unsalted butter to make the second batch of IMBC, I decided to make this a fondant cake. However, this cake was a LOT of challenge for me.

First of all, the cake was huge. I've never had to cover a cake this size with fondant before and I had a lot of trouble trying to roll out the fondant quickly enough before the fondant dried out. I was also difficult to roll out even thickness of fondant for such a big cake. I also felt that I burned lots of calories just rolling out the fondant - this is good for me. :)

The original thought for this massive cake was to make it into a gift box for Baby J. I guess the creative mind was redirected to bees during the process. :p

There were times when I was feeling frustrated with the cakes because decorating cakes is really not my expertise. I can say that I am not a creative person. But a wise advise from Bertha for me was to take it easy and enjoy the process. :) I'm really thankful to have friends that encourages me! Thanks, Bertha!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tri-Color Mousse

The first time that I saw a tri-color mousse was in a pastry shop in Jakarta where layers of dark chocolate, milk chococlate, and white chocolate mousse were put beautifully together creating a gradation effect and decorated with chocolate cigarettes. :) It's really pretty and I've been wanting to make something like that for the longest time. A few months after that, I bought a cook book, Cocolat, by Alice Medrich and in there it was! Now is a few months after I bought the book and I finally made it.

The cake is made of dark chocolate marquise, milk chocolate mousse, and white chocolate mousse. The dark chocolate marquise was really rich, heavy, and dense - a little too much for me. The other two mousse layers were lighter and I think that they have more of a mousse-y type texture. The recipe calls for lots of chocolates, so if you're a chocoholic, you might want to try this dessert. :) I decorated the cake with white chocolate mousse kisses and a twirl of bitter chocolate.

When I tried to lift up the cake rings, some of the milk chocolate mousse smeared over to the white chocolate mousse and destroyed the image of the tri-color mousse. I managed to scrape some of it off, but it's still not clean enough. >_<>

I made this cake for my co-worker's birthday and therefore I brought it to the office to share. I think they liked the cake overall (yep.. no funny comments such as "Yossi, are you trying to choke me?" on this one). I wish I had some raspberries though for the cake as it will definitely compliment the richness of the cake. Well... maybe next time! :)

The recipe for the cake is rather long for me to type in (I'm on a lazy mood now) but if you are interested in making this cake, please let me know and I'll email you the recipe - or even type it on the blog as an update. :)

I also want to share some things that happened to me this week with you. As I mentioned in my previous blog entries, I was just done with my work's "busy season" and I really worked hard during those two months. I put in a lot of effort to get my work done and finish the tasks assigned to me as soon as possible. However, I discovered that what I did was not enough. And it's really a humbling experience for me.

Growing up, I had always been a good daughter. In school, I had always been a good student and even earned the title of a valedictorian. At work (up to now), I had always receive positive feedback from my bosses. I guess in the midst of all that, my pride grew. And let me tell you, pride is an ugly creature. I was feeling down when I heard the review, but I am really thankful that God allowed me to go through this experience. To humble me and to remind me that all is in His hands and all is by His strength. I will work harder and smarter in the future. I will not let this bring me down, but instead, I will use this experience to lean more on God and to be a better blessing to the company that I am working for.

I want to tell the world (and all the readers of this blog) that in God you will find strength and rest. God is good, all the time. :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

I've been into the chocolate mood lately as you can see in my recent blog posts. I've been intrigue by chocolate for a while now and have started realizing the goodness that chocolate brings to people. :)

The story of these chocolate-chocolate cupcakes began on Friday when I was helping Alvin move to his new apartment. I took Friday off to help with the move (after going to the dentist to get my crown done >_<) and I really enjoyed the "exercise" I did that day. However, we weren't able to finish the move that day as the large furniture needed to wait for the U-haul truck on Saturday. So to prep for the second day of moving, I baked a vanilla rum cake in the morning. I thought that morning dose of baking will give me enough "high" for the whole day. But after lots of moving, packing, and cleaning, I desperately need a second dose of baking to keep me on the high notes. :p

After browsing my favorite recipe book, I decided to make this chocolate-chocolate cupcakes. It's real simple to make but at the same time, it has a sophisticated look (at least the pictures in the book was sophisticated). I had lots of fun using my my ice cream scooper to measure out the batter in each cupcake and dipping the cupcakes into the chocolate glaze.

The cake recipe yields me 12 standard size cupcakes and 6 mini cupcakes. Here it goes...

For the cupcakes,

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12 regular-sized cupcake pan and 6 mini cupcake pan with paper mold (I fill the rest of the empty ones with water).

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is blended into the butter. Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Add the buttermilk and mix until incorporated and then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Add the melted chocolate and mix in with a spatula. Divide the batter among the cupcake pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Transfer the cupcakes into a cooling rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before unmolding them. Cool to room temperature before glazing.

For the glaze,

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbs confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut to 6 pieces

Melt the chocolates in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Once melted, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a spatula or small whisk, stir in the sugar and then the pieces of butter. Stir until all the butter is melted and combined into the chocolate.

To glaze the cupcakes, dip the top of the cupcakes into the chocolate glaze and give it a little swirl. Let the excess chocolate glaze drip back into the bowl. Let the glaze set at room temperature, or in the fridge, if you're in a hurry.

I have to make a comment about Alvin. He too, was very tired with the move. If I have sore arms this morning, I can bet that his is worse. He had to carry lots of heavy loads and he worked really hard both Friday and Saturday. But in the middle of those tiring times, he took the time to take care of me, making sure that I wasn't working to hard or injuring myself. He also accompanied me in baking these cupcakes. He even volunteered to wash the dishes for me. When all those was done, he then willingly took the role of my promoter. :)

Two thumbs up for Alvin! I really feel blessed to have him in my life. He always encourages me and pushes me forward to be a better person. I thank God for him everyday. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cake Truffles

A while ago, my coworker told me about a cake that was mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, and then coated with chocolate - and it sounds yummy! Then about two days ago, I saw a recipe by Su Yin in Desserts Magazine of cake truffles, which was cake mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, and coated with chocolate. What a coincidence!

The ones made by Su Yin on the magazine looked so smooth and pretty, but mine was bumpy and not so pretty. I was a little sad that night seeing how my cake balls turned out to be cake lumps. I think it was because the temperature of the room last night was a little cold and the chocolate thickened rather quickly, making it more difficult to coat the cake balls with chocolate.

I was going to bring it to the office today but I left it in the fridge this morning. So it's now up for grabs. :) Anyone interested?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Espresso Mocha Cake

I got a call Sunday night from a friend asking me if I can bake a cake for his aunt's birthday on Tuesday. It's always one of those calls that I've been waiting for. :) Since the birthday was on Tuesday, I had to get the cake done on Monday. Thankfully, I had Monday off. It's such a perfect timing. The specification for the cake were for the cake to have espresso and dark chocolate components and to have lots of chocolate decors. So here it is...

The cake is made of 2 layers of espresso cotton cake, filled with mocha mousse, and covered in dark chocolate ganache. I have to admit that this was the first time for me to make an espresso cotton cake and it is also the first time for me to make a mocha mousse. I guess this is one of my experimental cakes. :p Since this was for 5 people, I made a small 6" cake. I'm also still experimenting with ganache - as evidenced with my use of ganache in almost every cake I made. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but at least, I was able to cover the cake with it "rather smoothly." One thing that I wasn't pleased with in the cake is my writing. The letters didn't come out very smoothly and although it is legible, it's not very nice. I'm really sorry for this oopsie.

As mentioned in my previous post, I had been playing with creating chocolate decorations since Friday and made a little progress with it. I was finally able to make chocolate curls, which I used in this cake, and chocolate loops, which I also used to make the heart. I'm very excited about these and I think I'll be playing with more chocolate from now on. The trick for me is to keep the room temperature cool - 70F or less.

With the cake batter, I was able to make two 6" cakes and one 4" cake. I used the small cake to make a mini version of the espresso mocha cake. :) In this one, you cake see the difference components of the cake.

I would like to give credit to Cocolat by Alice Medrich for the mocha mousse and the clear step by step instructions to make chocolate curls. :) This book has a lot of good standard recipes for chocolate desserts and give you ideas on how to combine them to make plenty of eye-catching chocolate creations.

Now, for the recipes...

Espresso Cotton Cake (adapted from Bertha's Blueberry Cotton Cake)

50 ml milk
75g butter
50 g cake flour
5 g espresso powder
7 egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

7 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
175 g sugar

Heat the oven to 350F and line two 6" pans and one 4" pan (or two 8" pans) with parchment paper. Sift the flour and espresso together. In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, heat the milk and butter until all the butter have melted. While still hot, pour the flour mixture to the milk+butter and whisk till well combined. Take the bowl off the heat and stir in the egg yolk one at a time. Then, stir in the vanilla extract.

On a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy and then add the cream of tartar. Continue whisking until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar to the egg white mixture while whisking until you get a glossy white meringue.

Fold a quarter of the egg white to the egg yolk mixture to soften it and then fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter. Pour into the prepared pans and bake in water bath for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in came out clean. When done, cool the pans on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and invert to release.

Mocha Mousse (adapted from Cocolat)

125g milk chocolate
2 tsp instant coffee powder
175 ml heavy cream

On top of a double broiler, melt the milk chocolate and espresso powder together. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate. Once melted, take if off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold a quarter of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture to soften it and then fold in the remaining cream. Pour the mousse into the mold and cool in the fridge until set.

Dark Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

120 ml heavy cream
110 g dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Heat the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed pan until boiling (be very careful as the cream rises very quickly once it starts boiling). Pour half of the cream to the chocolate, let sit for 30 seconds, and slowly whisk in a circular motion (start from the center and move outwards). Once the mixture is blended, pour the other half of the cream into the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the butter one piece at a time and stir until combined. The ganache is ready to be poured on the cake.

I hope you all enjoyed baking the cake! If you do try this recipe, please let me know your feedback on it so that I can improve.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mousse Cake and more...

It's a weekend of baking for me! :) It's been a while since I had a crazy baking weekend and this one was awesome! I had Friday off and I started the day by sorting through my recipe collection to see which ones to bake for the day. I decided on baking some simple Indonesian desserts, kue sus and bolu kukus, and one fancier mousse cake.

The weather was just perfect outside and my mood was in an all time high. :) I checked out my supplied at home, made my grocery list and head out to HEB for some fun shopping! Once home, I started off with bolu kukus and then I moved on to kue sus. I planned to bring these to church that night to share. :)

Then I moved on to making my multi-component mousse cake. I had been wanting to make this cake since I first saw it on Tartelette's blog and finally I did it! I started off with the brownie base, the milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse, and finally on Saturday morning, I finished it off with the dark chocolate ganache. :) This cake took much longer to prep and assemble than the two Indonesian desserts together.

I also played with chocolate decorations on Friday morning, following the instructions of Jean-Pierre. I was really anxious about it as I never really had much success with chocolate decorations. So, to create a more choco-friendly environment, I turned the AC on in the apartment. :p It worked though! I managed to make some chocolate twists and chocolate loops. I used 2 of the loops to make a heart and used it on the cake. :)

Then on Saturday morning, I continued my baking session with some Cat's tongue. :) It's one of my favorite Indonesian cookies and I used my mom's recipe for this one (it's going to be a family recipe from now on :p). I brought it to church to share again Saturday morning for the people who helped in preparing for the food sale. :) I really liked bringing my goodies to church because they always finished it off. I'm really happy when others liked my cakes and desserts and finished it up. That's why I'm always looking for "victims" to share my cakes with.
I'm really blessed with this rest that God gave me over the weekend. I wasn't thinking about work at all and I just get so much energy from baking. I didn't bake anything on Sunday though because I think I owe it to Alvin to spend some time with him (instead of being busy in the kitchen all day). It truly is a wonderful weekend for me.

I also want to share a verse that has been true for me. It's from Matthew 11:28 - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I came and I was given rest. :)