Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mocha Pudding

I've been inspired by Eva, who is the master at pudding making, to actually make my own pudding. :) I believe that the last time I made any form of pudding would be with Nutrijell read-made and fully flavored packages. But this time it's different, I made these from "scratch."

I had looked through a few recipes on mocha/chocolate/sacher puddings, but since this is my first time making my own pudding, I wanted to try a recipe that has been proven to work. So I finally decided on Ci Sukma's Mocha pudding recipe (which I found from Ci Kiki's blog). It's really easy to follow recipe and since Ci Sukma and Ci Kiki (both are awesome cooks) approves of it, I'm very sure that it's going to be good. :)

I have to warn you though, this is an Indonesian pudding - not the pudding that most Americans know of. I learn about this when I brought this mocha pudding to work. My coworkers were very confused and had funny looks on their faces as they tried my pudding. :p This pudding is made using agar-agar and has a sturdier texture than jello. The pudding that they're used has more of a custard-like texture. It was a really interesting after-lunch dessert for them and we sure had lots of laughs trying the "Indonesian pudding."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kue Pukis

I am VERY excited when I saw this recipe on Resep Keluarga Nugraha! This (and kue laba-laba) is one of my favorite snack when I was still in primary school. I think they're about Rp. 500 for 3 back then. :)

I went home from work last night at about 9:30PM. It's not too late, but it's also not too much free time left for me to make a multi-component cake that I had been wanting to do. So I browsed through Resep Keluarga Nugraha's website to look for some yummy recipe to try and I came across the recipe for Kue Pukis. At first I didn't know what Kue Pukis is, but as soon as I saw the picture, I knew what it was! I quickly glanced through the list of ingredients to make sure that I have all of them on hand. :) I don't have the right mold for it but I have this awesome half-dome one as a gift from Aunt Helen (thanks a lot, Tante Helen!). So... here they are!

I gave some that we're right out of the pan to Alvin for a test-run and he loved it! Yay! These Kue Pukis are mini two-bite sizes and I think that they are perfect snacks for the night. :p I didn't feel too guilty gobbling up 2-3 pieces of them yesterday night. I packed some for Alvin to bring to work (for him to snack on) and I packed some for my coworkers as well. :)

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my coworkers have started to grow suspicious of anything "Indonesian" that I brought to work. They were not too crazy about the Indonesian Cheesecake, and the steamed cupcakes (bolu kukus), and the Kaastengels that I had brought to work previously for them to try. So when I told them that these were "Mini Muffins - Indonesian Style," their eyes narrowed a little. :p BUT they actually liked this one! Yay!

So, the moral of the day is: Don't give up when others don't like what you bake. Just keep on trying until they do. :p

Want to also do a little shout-out in my blog today...

Jesus loves you! If you fall, He'll pick you back up and love you still. So don't run away from Him when you mess up; run towards Him.

I ran away from Him before but I find myself in a deeper hole than I was before. So now I'm learning to run towards Him, who is slow to anger and abounding in love.

Cheers! And Happy Friday to y'all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strawberry Tart

I made these sometime last week but I've been procrastinating in updating my blog for it. This is actually a milestone for me because it's the first time for me to make tart shells. :) I grew up with fruit tarts at home and I've always wanted to be able to make my own.

The main reason that I'm making a strawberry tart instead of a fruit tart is the fact that H-E-B was selling strawberries for $0.97/lbs!! Yes... I know... it's such a good deal and I just can't resist. The strawberries were so red, fresh, and smelled so sweet.

I read a lot about tart shells before I actually made one. Some of the lessons I learnt from my research are:

1. Don't over mix the ingredients as it will result in tough tart shells
2. keep it cold to prevent shrinkage
3. brush a thin layer of egg whites while baking the tart to keep it crisp

I brought this over to my friend's house for a potluck and I think it was well accepted by the group. :) I only had 15 minutes to assemble the whole tart (including slicing the strawberries) and thus the messy look on the tart. I think I'll give myself more time in the future so that I can have a perfect little strawberry tart. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My First "Tiered" Cake

I had the opportunity to make a birthday cake for 6 people this past weekend. The event was hosted by my girlfriend who had just bought a beautiful house and decided to celebrate the birthdays along with her housewarming party. :)

I thought a lot about this cake and I had a very difficult time trying to decide on the kind of cake to make. I was initially planning to make a half sheet chocolate cake, but then realized that this was an opportunity to make a tiered cake (since there'll be lots of people available to eat the cake). This is my first time ever to make a tiered cake and I make lots of mistake on this one. >_<>
One thing I love about this cake, however, was the flowers. I made tons and tons of daisies for this cake. I wanted to make a spring cake that looks simple but also elegant. I don't know if I really achieve that look, but I'm very satisfied with the field of daisies that I made. :) Each one was made with love (and lots of patience).

Just in case you are curious, the top cake was a vanilla cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting while the bottom layer was a red velvet cake with vanilla bean frosting (recipe from Bobby Flay).

I will definitely give tiered cake another try when I have an opportunity for it. Next time, I'll make an 8" and a 6" cakes so that the tiers can be more obvious. :p

As a farewell note on this blog, I'd like to share this video with you guys:

I've been so blessed and encouraged and rebuked at the same time. Hope it brings hope to your lives too! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chocolate Black Forest Cake

I really enjoyed my work schedule this past 3 weeks up till yesterday. We would start work at 7 and go home at 5. Of course there are days where we have to take work home, but it's usually not more than 2-3 hours of work from home. :) I think the 2 best thing about coming to work early are:

1. Seeing the sun rises in the morning
2. Coming home when everybody else is

Now that I'm back to my other client, my work schedule changed back to normal again. But, I have nothing to complain about because I am thankful that I still have a job and that I have people who love me. :) Yay!

So far this week I've only made these 2 black forest cakes. They are cake orders coming from a friend I met over facebook. I've never actually met her in person, but it's nice to know more people and meet new friends. These cakes are 2 layers of moist chocolate sponge cake brushed with rum simple syrup, filled with rum chocolate cream and generous servings of dark bing cherries, and wrapped with bittersweet chocolate. I really think that I have put too much rum on this cake. >_< But it's too late - I've mixed it all in the cream and there's no turning back. I just hope that whoever eat this cake likes rum.

My friend requested that I write "Happy Easter Birthday 2009" on the smaller cake and this got me really nervous. I'm not very good with cake writings and I'm very nervous about the idea. I prepared myself for failure and made 4 chocolate plagues to write on. I wrote the blurb on each plague and, crossed my finger, hope that at least one will come out to be decent looking. :p The words were a little slanted, but at least it's legible. :)

I still have lots to do this weekend. 2 more cake projects due and it's already Thursday! Eeksss! But despite my busy work schedule and limited cake-time, I really enjoyed every moment I have baking in my kitchen. :)

Indonesian Cheese Cake

I have baked a lot of cakes for a lot of people and I am very grateful for every single one of my friends who are always eager to try my new experiments. :) But in the midst of my business baking cakes for other people, I forgot to bake for Alvin. I suddenly realized that I wasn't being fair to Alvin, who has always been encouraging me and supporting me all the way. So I decided to bake him a cake that he's been wanting for quite a while now - Indonesian Cheese Cake - for his birthday. :)

This cake is made of two layers of extra soft and moist vanilla sponge cake (recipe courtesy of Bertha), filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting, and covered generously with processed cheddar cheese (Kraft). The recipe for this cake involves mixing the butter until it turns white and the folding it to the sponge cake batter at the end. It's a really interesting method and this is the first time I've heard of it as well. But since Bertha has tried the recipe and highly recommends it, it is definitely worth a try. :)

We shared the cake with my roomie and her boyfriend and they both liked the cake. :) I am also very happy knowing that Alvin liked the cake as well. I'm glad that I was able to do something for him today. After all the things that he had done for me, making a cake for his birthday is really the least I can do.
*Cheers to Alvin* Happy Birthday, Vin! :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tres Leches

I first heard of this cake during my lunch interview with KPMG back in April 2007 at Artista. Last weekend, when my friends from Calif came to town, we went to Artista again and we had some of their Tres Leches. It was amazing! I really liked it a lot. Also, the night before we went to Artista, we had chocolate tres leches at the chocolate bar (another one of my favorite dessert place in Houston) and it was so good! And so now, I am in the mood to make some tres leches myself. :)

Tres leches is really a Latin American cake (since I've never heard of it when I was still in Calif) and I really don't have much experience with Latin desserts at all. So after doing some research on the cake, I decided to try Alton Brown's recipe. It's really simple to make. Bake the base cake, make the three milk mixture, soak the cake, and decorate it with some sweetened whipped cream. I like simple cakes because I have a tendency to make cakes on the fly - and thus, I don't usually have time to make cakes with lots of components. (Note to self: please learn to start planning your cakes to achieve better results.)

After tasting the cake, I find that I really liked the texture of the cake but I find it a little too sweet. I'll definitely make this cake again, but I'll cut down on the sugar. :) It'll save me some calories, which is very important for me right now. :p

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pistachio Macarons

Since my last batch of macarons was quite a success, I decided to play around with it one more time. Unfortunately, my macaron batch wasn't quite as successful this time. For one recipe, I was able to make about 5 cookie sheets worth of macarons and of those 5, only 1 yielded pretty macarons. The other 4 had either cracked shells, no feet, or both. >_< I still won't give up on it, though. I'll try again next time. :)

This week has been a great week for me. Many pleasant events occurred and I really feel blessed and loved. :) I also learnt that harsh words is sometimes good for me. It shook me up when I heard it, but it opened my eyes to the mistakes I made and gave me an opportunity to be a better person. I want to say thank you for those friends who have spoken the truth to me in love. I also want to apologize if I ever offended anyone in the past. I hope that no friendships were lost along the way.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Meringue Kisses

What to do with a 40% off coupon for Borders? Buy an awesome cookbook! I got myself this textbook-looking cookbook on baking and it's truly a textbook at heart. The book has chapter expectations, chapter summary, and questions. There's not many pictures and lots of formulas. I'm not so sure I made the best choice of book, but it sure has a lot of information. :)

The first chapter was on the history of baking. And the next one was on food sanitation and care. Yep.. if you know me, I fell asleep a lot during classes throughout high school and college. And this one, was no different. :p I fell asleep reading the history chapter and when I tried to wake up and continue reading, I feel asleep again. LOL.

Anyways, this meringue recipe is taken from the book. It's really simple and easy to make. The book doesn't really give much instructions on how to do things but it gives you general guidelines on what to do. The author of the book says that in a professional environment, recipes typically only come as a list of ingredients and a professional pastry chef would know what to do given the list without much instructions. So that's the approach that the book has taken. :p I got a list of ingredients and a general instructions on meringues. So I experimented a little with the recipe.

The results: some were successful...

And others were not... :p

Oh well... I had fun with it! :)
For those curious minds who would like to experiment as well, here's the list of ingredients:

100g egg whites
100g + 100 g powdered sugar

method: common meringue

Whip the egg whites till it reaches soft peaks and then start to add the first 100g of sugar a little at a time until it reaches stiff peaks. Then, fold in the remaining sugar using a spatula. Pipe into desired shape and bake in the over at 175F-220F for about 1-3 hours.

For me, the combination that worked best was 175F for 1 hour. I first used 200F for 1 hours and my meringues cracked. But the lower temperature helps mitigate that. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blackberry Mousse Cake - 1st attempt

I really liked Cocola's Blackberry Mousse Cake in San Jose. :) It's so pretty and it tastes so yummy as well. And it so happens that this is Nana's favorite cake there too! Right, Na?

So when Irene and Bule came, I thought - let's make a blackberry mousse cake and bring it back to Nana! :) Yay!

Unfortunately - in my eagerness to make the perfect cake - I used way to much gelatin. The funny thing is that I realized it as soon as I poured all of it in the mousse base. *hiks...* This is what I get for not planning for the cake. I now believe that there are 2 very important factors that affect my baking result:

1. my mood while baking
2. the amount of planning I do for the cakes

I was in a good mood while making this cake (although slightly sleepy as well) but I didn't plan for it at all. I just happened at the spur of the moment. :p Oh well... One thing for sure, I learn something new from this experience.

I have to give credit to Bule for the cake decorations! :) It's all her! I almost gave up with the cake, but she saved it. :) The small details on the ribbons, the strawberry slices, and the chocolate twists - very complementary. :) Good job, Bule!

I also want to extend much much much thanks to Irene - who were so willing to carry the cake back to California. :)

Tiramisu Chiffon

If I'm not mistaken, a while ago someone had asked if I've ever made a tiramisu chiffon. I had never done it before and it sounded like a good idea to put to practice. My first thought was to use tiramisu paste/extract to give the flavor, but it doesn't feel like I'm making a tiramisu chiffon at all. So I decided to try my own concoction. :p I thought about the components of tiramisu: strong coffee, mascarpone cream, and rum. So I took my mom's to-die-for chiffon recipe (in my humble opinion) and played around with it. Here's the result:

Some of the changes I made on the recipe:
- I used espresso instead of milk
- added 1 tbs of dark rum
- use diplomat cream to frost the cake (instead of buttercream)
- added some mini chocolate chips in the batter

I think overall the cake was okay. It tasted more like a mocha chiffon rather than tiramisu chiffon. Maybe it's the chocolate chips. Or maybe there's not enough rum. Or maybe, I need to use the tiramisu paste. I still haven't found the right combo for this yet. I'll continue on my search... and I'll keep you guys posted. :)

Finally... Macarons :)

I was asked over this past weekend of the one type of cake/cookies/bread that I think is the most difficult to make so far. My answer is plain and simple - macarons! Of the 4 times I made macarons, I had a 50% success rate. >_< href="">Tartelette's Demystifying Macarons, I have some idea of the chemistry behind macarons and the tips on baking a good batch of macarons. But even though I followed every step of the instructions, I still wasn't able to be successful the last 2 times I made it. So when this batch developed macaron "feet", I was EXTRA HAPPY! :)

I had some awesome help from my dear friends from California who came and visited Texas. :) I felt very sorry that there's not much to see in Houston (compared to the beauty of California), but I was extremely happy having them here. We had lots of eating going on during that weekend, and of course, lots of baking as well. :)

I think that one of the most fun thing about macarons (aside from seeing the feet developed), is stacking them. It's always such a challenge for me. :p I think the white ones that I made was a little too stiff and therefore did not have a flat shell like the pink ones. But somehow, Irene and Bule were able to stack them high! I bet they're awesome at Jenga. :p

Anyways... I just wanted to share these with you. I know I haven't been blogging for quite a while. My computer was attacked by a virus a while ago and had just recently been restored. And work has been taking so much of my time that I don't really have much time to bake or post blogs. :( But this weekend is a relaxing one for me. I was rewarded with a Friday off. :) I need to start thinking about my plan tomorrow. :p