Cookies galore

My sister baked lots of cookies today: chocolate chip cookies, black tea cookies, and chocolate cookies with chocolate chips and almonds. That’s a lot of baking in one day! They’re so delicious and make the perfect study snacks. I started studying accounting recently (on my own, with my mom helping me from time to time), because I wanted to keep my brain active even though I’m not in school anymore. It hasn’t been easy though because the content is dry, and I’ve sort of fallen into a state of laziness and relaxation… I’m going to keep trying though.

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Rainy Saturday Creation

My sister and I baked scones this morning because it was raining too hard to go outside (typhoon is ruining all the fun). I think that scones and cupcakes are two things that are easy and almost fail-proof to bake. Even though today’s scones ended up looking more like biscuits, they still tasted really yummy! We made two kinds: raisin and cranberry.

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Now all I need to find is some Devonshire cream and jam, and I’ll be ready for afternoon tea… It’s already hard enough to find Devonshire cream in Canada. I think the only place that has them here is the supermarket in Taipei 101. Too bad it’s so hard to make your own Devonshire cream. I’ll just eat it plain with butter.

Did you know?

The “high tea” that we have in hotels and tea shops with the three-tiered stands is actually not how it was enjoyed back in the days. For the British upper class, “afternoon tea” is the kind we see today, and “high tea” is actually the dinner of the working class. The “high” does not refer to “high class”, but rather “high noon”, signifying that it was taken later in the day.

Cheesecake: Success!

Today I baked a light cheesecake with Milktea. It took the entire morning, but it turned out really well! For some reason, baked goods always turn out better in Taiwan than in Canada… I’d love to try cooking in Taiwan too, but I’m afraid to use the gas stove… :( Too bad electricity costs so much in Taiwan, otherwise electric stoves would be more common.

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Creme Caramel

Creme caramel.. A combination of sweet caramel and soft, egg-y pudding. The flavors are smooth and rich; you cannot have one without the other! What more can you ask for from a pudding?

I forgot where I found this recipe.. Possibly on allrecipes? It is a very good recipe and not too difficult to make. The most challenging part is the caramel. It only takes a few seconds for caramel to go from great to burnt so you have to watch it carefully.

Creme caramel baked in ramekins

The caramel on the bottom

Creme Caramel (Serves 6)

For the custard:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

For the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar

*****

Instructions

For the custard:

1. Heat the oven to 325F.
2. Heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scaled (small bubbles will form on the sides of the pan).
3. Split the vanilla bean in half (if using) and scrape the seeds into the cream.
4. In a medium bowl, slowly whisk the sugar into the egg yolks and eggs.
5. Slowly whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture.
6. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.
7. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract (if using).

For the caramel:

1. Arrange six 6-oz. ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides and set aside.
2. Put the sugar into a saucepan and add enough water to dissolve the sugar. Set the pot over high heat.
3. The mixture will come to a furious boil after a few minutes. It will start to colour. Swirl the pan to even out the caramelization. When the caramel is an even dark brown, pour it into the ramekins.

Be careful!! The caramel at this stage is over 300F. If the caramel cools in the pot at this stage, it will become a sticky mess..

To bake:

Pour the custard into the caramel-lined ramekins. Fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the dish with foil (to prevent the tops from drying out). Bake for 25-50 minutes until just set. Remove. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. To eat, invert the custard onto a dessert plate by running a thin knife around the edge.

My own personal notes:

– I don’t brown the caramel until a dark brown because I find that it ends up burning since the pot is still very hot after being removed from the heat. I stop heating when a lighter brown colour has been achieved.

– 25 minutes to 50 minutes is a very broad time range.. I bake mine for 35 minutes.

That’s all I have to say for now. Happy baking~

Chocolate Cupcakes

Last night I made some more cupcakes~ This time it’s a modified version of the red velvet cupcakes from my last post. (Please see the full recipe in the link provided)

This time I didn’t add any red food coloring and I doubled the cocoa for a more chocolate-y cake. I added some red food coloring to the frosting to make it light pink but apparently I did not add enough as the frosting was still really white.

Yummy~ : )

Chocolate cupcake with pink cream cheese frosting topped with sprinkles

Red Velvet Cupcakes

On Saturday night I needed a little break from final exam studying, so I decided to bake some cupcake with my sister. My favorite cupcakes are red velvet cupcakes. I love the cream cheese frosting and the red of the cupcakes is very pretty. I usually buy red velvet cupcakes from the Original cupcakes store by Heather and Lori, but there are a couple of problems with that: 1. They are a bit expensive. 2. They always run out of red velvet cupcakes.. It’s one of their most popular flavors.

I found the recipe from Joy of Baking, a wonderful website that offers a lot of great recipes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The texture is soft and moist!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (Recipe courtesy of Joyofbaking.com)

(Yield: 12 cupcakes)

1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons (10 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

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Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and cocoa powder.

3. Using an electric mixer (or by hand, which is a lot more tedious), beat the butter until soft (1-2 mins). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (2-3 mins). Beat in the egg. Finally, beat in the vanilla extract.

4. In a separate cup, whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring. Then add half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mix. Add in the buttermilk mixture, mix. Finally, add in the rest of the flour mixture and mix.

5. In a small cup, combine vinegar and baking soda. The mixture should start fizzing immediately. Add that to the batter and quickly fold it in.

6. Quickly pour the batter into the muffin cups, smooth the tops with the back of  a spoon and bake in the oven for around 18-23 minutes.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add in the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) and beat until smooth. Gradually add in the heavy cream and mix until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Add more cream and/or sugar as needed until the right consistency is achieved.

I didn’t follow this recipe exactly to the dot. I used artificial vanilla extract instead of the real thing and I didn’t have butter so I opted margarine instead. Also, sis and I made our own buttermilk from whole milk. To do this, just add white vinegar to milk. The ratio is 1 cup milk to 1 tbsp white vinegar. Set it aside for 5 minutes before using.

In the end, the final product turned out pretty well! The frosting was a bit runny for my liking but it hardened after it had cooled for some time in the fridge. The frosting was the tastiest part, but the cupcakes themselves aren’t too bad either! I don’t think it’s worse than the store. Next time I’ll make my own red velvet cupcakes at home instead of buying out. When I can find the time, of course. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem since summer term will not be as stressful as winter.. At least I hope not.

It kind of scared me though while making the cupcakes just how much red food colouring goes into these delicious cupcakes. Next time I might opt to skip the food colouring if I’m baking them for myself at home..

Red velvet cupcake batter