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Chocolate Mousse

3 Sep

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The best way to welcome long-time-no-see friends is with chocolate, yes?

It was a delight to go back to familiar faces after 7 months apart, to sat in the same chair and felt the slippery wooden table, big enough to share for two.

It was also a delight, that once I sat down, one by one turned their head on me and mouthed ‘Cakes. Bring cakes, Dee would ya?” or “Sweets. When are you gonna bring some sweets?”

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Apparently my appearance was equal with dessert, which I have no reason to object. I love that they devoured my sweets. They either love me, the food, or the simple fact that the food was free. (I have always pretended its because they love me so much)

The recipe stated for one teaspoon of extract, but The Boys (I studied Business, majoring in Marketing and strangely trapped in a class with majority of testosterone bearers) felt that it was too strong. I did exchange the usual vanilla with almond and felt that the vanilla version was so much better.

I still love the heady crunch of toasted almond on top of the blanket silky chocolate though, whatever the extract would be.

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I am going to move out from my parent’s house to my friend’s house next week, (which is closer to my university) but sadly have no oven installed.

I will miss that special air in the house that only exist when you have a cake in the oven and that crips on the outer ring of a cookie that only homemade one has. But I also think this would be a fun challenge to come up with no-bake desserts.

I can see it already: popsicles, puddings, custards, ice creams (yes, no oven but I will haul my ice cream maker with me) and so on.

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This chocolate mousse also do not require oven, just eggs, chocolate, cream and love, like the love you have for friends that you hold dear.

Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals

I have always been afraid of making anything involving raw egg yolks, afraid that it would turn into a dessert with stinky smell. This chocolate Mousse is anything but. Thick and soft at the same time, it is a great comfort coming home knowing there are bowls of this mousse after a hard daywork.

Serves 8

200 Gr of good quality dark chocolate
1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoon of powdered sugar
300 ml of double cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (Or 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract)
2 large eggs
Almonds, toasted (optional)
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I don’t like really cutting chocolate bars and get both of my chopping board and knife smeared brown if I don’t have to, so what I usually do is leave them on the wrapping paper and smashed the heck out of them with a rolling pin. It can be very therapeutic.

Tip the chocolate chunks into a heatproof mixing bowl or a double boiler, then add the butter. Leave to melt, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, add the sugar and the extract to the whipping cream, then whisk until it reached soft peaks.

Separate the eggs, pour the whites to an empty mixing bowl and gently mix the yolk to the whipped cream.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk really well until stiff. The best way to test it is to slowly and carefully tip the bowl upside down. If the fluff of egg whites doesn’t fall off, you are good to go. Set the egg whites aside.

By now, the chocolate should be melted, so spoon it into the bowl of whipped cream and with a spatula, fold until just combined. I know it might be nerve racking to stream down hot melted chocolate to cold whipped cream, but get your confident coat and do it. If you hesitate and leave the chocolate to cool down too long, it might harden back and turn the mousse to brittle, gooey mess. (Believe me, I tried)

Gently fold the egg whites through with a spatula. Spoon them into your serving vehicle of choice.
Toast some almonds then scatter few of them on top of the mousse.

If you’re serving right away, put into freezer to set, 10-15 minutes. If not, let it sit in the fridge to set, 1-3 hours.

Breakfast Toast

30 Aug

Good morning! A quick hello and snapshot, what do you have for breakfast today?

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I am slowly nudged awake by the gentleness of this cream cheese toast drizzled with honey. Then, the aromatic guava with sharp balinese lime marmalade gave me a bang to get going. September is coming, fellas.

PS: I used left-over cream cheese for the toast and here’s the trick: scoop out the amount you need and in a small bowl, beat the heck out of it with the back of a spoon until you get a creamy, fluffy spreadable cream cheese.

Wishing you an astounding day,
Dee

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

24 Aug

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Every time my best friend, M comes to my house and spends some time in my room, she leaves some evidence. Back in high school, she left her phone. Then her watch. Then her books, cosmetics and a handful of other stuff I can’t even remember anymore.

Recently, she left her earphone. I let it laid tangled exactly where she left it for a week. Then when she came by to get it, she took my phone instead of her own phone. Today, after hours of laughing and hanging out, she left me a paper plane.

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It was made out of a brochure from the supermarket we went earlier. And just like the rest of the stuff she left, I let that paper plane sit right where she put it. I know it was not something precious, not something she would call me later and made sure she left it on my place and did not lose it.

I left it there, even though knowing it is categorized as junk. I left it there, because it represent her presence in my room. That after a year not seeing her, she was here. Breathing and alive, kicking and laughing. There were some several tear drops too, but that didn’t matter.

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We met in high school and managed to stay close across the seas and across the years (she went to the US while I stayed home) Our relationship are based on texts, Facebook message and occasional skype.

I was terrified at first, not knowing whether this friendship will withstand the distance and time difference.

Will our world suddenly become so different that we cannot relate to each other anymore?

Then I remember how exactly I got to know her. Once we realized we have something in common, we hit it off and decided to bake together.

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The goal was simple. Baked a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream and get it right. On the contrary of how classic and easy it may sound, it took us numerous amounts of frustration, sleepovers, sweats and hard work to get the perfect springy cake. We tried handful of recipes, tweaked, tried it again, and so on until we found the perfect version.

The whole high school students and teachers alike loved it that we decided to make little money out of it. I couldn’t remember in the end what we spend that money on, but what I do remember is that the cupcake gave me what money can’t ever, ever buy: friendship.

Every time I bake, devour and share this cupcake, it is a silent gratification for our friendship.

She’s flying back tonight to US and I have no idea when am I going to see her again, warm and vibrant in flesh. Safe travel, my friend. I”ll see you when I see you.

Mini Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream
Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

We weren’t so inclined on frosting that is tooth-achingly sweet, so this vanilla buttercream is sweet but on the stronger taste of butter and would melt in your mouth like one. We believed it pair very excellent with the cake, which both moist and springy.

Makes 48 Mini Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcake
1 cup of softened butter
1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup of low fat milk
1 Tsp of vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup softened butter
2 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
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To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, medium speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the sugar by spoonfuls, waiting until it dissolves into the butter.

Add eggs one at the time, beating well after each addition.

In a bowl, shift the flours and combine with a whisk or fork. Turning down the mixer speed to slow, add the flour in four part, alternating with milk and vanilla. Scrape the mixing bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well combined. The batter would look thick and fluffy, like yellow clouds.

Line the muffin pan with paper liner and spoon the batter with teaspoons into the cups about three-quarters full. Bake until the top spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean for about 20-22 minutes.

Move the cupcakes to wire rack and let cool completely before icing.

To make the buttercream:

In a mixing bowl fitted with paddled attachment, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract.

Gradually beat in the sugar, scraping the bowl when necessary.

Ice your cupcakes.

Blueberry Icebox Pie

14 Aug

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I imagine there is a cup of hot steaming coffee by my side. If it sits close enough to my keyboard, my pinky finger would briefly brush the warm glass when I press Enter. Maybe the earthy smell would slowly nudge my brain awake like the morning chaste kiss mothers give to their toddler.

But no, no coffee here. I don’t even know if I like coffee enough to have it everyday. I have always been a tea drinker.

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It’s just that I always have this romantic thinking that early morning writing would be accompanied by coffee. (Does this even make sense?)

I don’t usually write in this ungodly hour, (Hi! 5 AM here in Jakarta) but my classes would start in 2 weeks and I can’t afford the luxury of “Writing-at-midnight-until-early-morning-session” if I want to be completely awake for that itty bitty details of marketing plans or business research *arghh*

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The fact that the sun is slowly rising distract me. The shine creeps through my window and I imagine myself covering my eyes with blanket, wishing the night would last a little longer.

Since I can’t have any of that, I think coffee might be my next best friend for the next year of college.( Which my last year and most probably the worst)

I still don’t know what kind of coffee would be my favorite- but what I do know is that I do not mind having coffee with this blueberry icebox pie every morning.

I would say this pie is a pure kick-ass-blueberry-goodness. The ingredients are pretty much only blueberries and chocolate wafers.

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Yup. That’s it.

Simple flavors. Fresh. Best eaten cold. ( with coffee!)

Blueberry Icebox Pie
Inspired from At Home with Magnolia by Allysa Torey

First there’s the fruit itself, shiny blue little things, gleaming in light. Second, (and my favorite) is the jam-like filling. Deep blue, almost purple even.. It’s like seeing into a pool of sapphire. It is soft and a little bit chewy, with sharp tang that will wash away any sleepiness that hover your mind in the morning.

Serves one 9 inch pie

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs

Filling
5 cups of fresh blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1 cup of fresh blueberries
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To make the crust:
In a bowl, combine melted butter and the chocolate wafer crumbs. Butter lightly the 9 inch pie dish then dump the crust mixture on it. With the back of a spoon or your fingers, spread and firmly press the crust. Cover tightly in cling wrap and freeze for one hour.

To make the filling:
In a medium-size saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar and cornstarch and stir constantly over medium heat until it reaches the consistency of jam, 10 to 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and cook just a slight more until the mixture thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Take the pie crust out from the freezer and spread the now cool filling evenly onto it. Dot with fresh blueberries, cover with plastic wrap again and chill the pie in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

Deconstructed Lemon-Blackberry Trifle

5 Aug

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I’m trying to come up with a good first liner in this paragraph to draw you in. Nothing interesting comes up, so I decide to write about being confused instead. I stare at the blank page as seconds tick by, wondering what I should say…

The words are stuck on the tip of my tongue, a little shy from my fingers that are dancing on the keyboard. It is there, somewhere, hidden like the ingredient in a cake that you can’t place, but somehow you know it is something that makes the cake so different, so unique.

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I try harder. I believe in trying, I believe that behind every greatness there are hundreds of hours of bawling, melt-downs or just plain banging-your-head-to-the-wall kind of activity.

Which is what I feel like doing right now, hitting the same buttons over and over again, putting words with words, only to press backspace with such force my finger feels bruised.

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If you’re still here, listening, thank you. I hope I do not turn you away from this ranting and rambling, because what comes next is good. Really good.

This deconstructed lemon-blackberry trifle to me, feels like a rainbow after a storm. It feels like a rush of words coming beautifully, dancing and laced by a delicate pink ribbon, after hours of punching the keyboards madly.

It is so easy, a no brainer and it is both alluring and comforting. It might as well be called assembling rather than baking.

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You cut a lemon loaf in half and slice it thinly. Arrange the slices in a platter, soak them with a mixture of sweet and dashing apricot marmalade that has been swimming in orange juice.

Get the heavy cream, chilled as the first breath of winter. Whip it and once the pure white liquid turn into fluffy cloud of goodness, Spoon carefully on top of the soaked loaf then bring out the blackberries.

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I like the way sometimes the little black pearl would puff out and smear my fingers purple. Funny how it looks like midnight, named black, but leaves a soft, violet hue.

Arrange the proud, bouncy berries on top of the cream. Sprinkle with little speckle of orange zest. Cut it, eat it, share it and be merry.

Deconstructed Lemon-Blackberry Trifle
Inspired by Nigella Kitchen

This trifle taste like a light, fluffy sweet pudding. I made it for my cousin baby shower. I’ve been told by my Aunt ( who has been who complaining she couldn’t find the trifle in the morning) that the lovely couple and their friends inhaled it in one serving.

This is more of a guide then a recipe. It all depends on your choice of the platter. I chose a circle platter with a 9 inch diameter, so if your presentation vehicle is either bigger or smaller than this, feel free to adapt accordingly.

A half of Lemon Loaf ( Baked in 9×5 inch loaf pan)
1 cup of fresh orange juice
Two heaping teaspoons of apricot marmalade
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
170 Gr/ 6 0z of Blackberries
Orange zest (Optional)
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Slice the loaf with a serrated knife about 1 inch thick. Arrange it on your choice of platter. If it is round like mine, put one slice in the middle and circle the rest of the slices around it so the center will not be hollow.

In a small bowl, combine the apricot marmalade with the juice from the orange. Whisk slightly, breaking the pulps.

Spoon the juice over the slices, making sure each of them is soak through.
With electric mixer or with hand, pour the cream and powdered sugar in a bowl and whipped until it thicken and forms loose peaks when the whisk is lifted

Drop the whipped cream on top of the slices, covering it.
Take out the blackberries and dotted them on top of the fluffy cream.

If you want to, make the trifle more festive by zesting an orange and sprinkle the little dots of
orange skin over the trifle.

Serves 10

Banana Muffin

31 Jul

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It seems like I picked the perfect time to missed all weddings, engagement parties, pregnancy celebrations and birth when I was away in Sydney. I knew I couldn’t make up my absence, so I baked this muffin instead and sent them to my loved ones.

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I love the simplicity of this muffin and the way it gives my whole house a new sweet, warmth perfume which reminds me of the orange and golden leaves in Autumn.

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All you need are 2 overripe-on-the-edge of stink bananas, brown and handsome. Butter, melted together with honey and vanilla. A little beating is in order, just until they marry together in harmony. Baking soda, baking powder, all purpose flour and a dash of cinnamon, sifted and mixed together.

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The key to success is the mixing. Mixed everything just until they are combined, no more. Over mixing will create a tough muffin and biting into dense cake surely is no pleasure!

Banana Muffin
Adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson

2 large, ripe-in-the-verge-of-stink bananas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 heaping tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
Muffin pan and paper baking cups
Makes 8
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Preheat the oven to 375F and line your muffin pan with liners.

In a bowl, mashed bananas until resemble a puree of baby food, set aside. In another bowl, sift the dry ingredient and combined slightly.

In a small saucepan, put the butter, honey and vanilla extract over low heat to melt.
Combined the butter mixture to bananas, then make a little circle in the middle of the flour and dump the butter-banana mixture in it.

With a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the mixture a couple of times, just until it resemble a gooey of banana mixture goodness, soft and lumpy. It wouldn’t look very attractive, but no worries, It would still come out all right.

Fill the muffin cups about two-thirds full of mixture. If you, like me, cannot comprehend the existent of anything banana dessert without chocolate, then drop a few of chocolate chips on top.
You might need to press that little buttons a little to sink into the mixture.

Put in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Leave in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove the muffin cups to a wire rack and leave cool for another 5-10 minutes.

I would suggest to eat it warm with a cuppa tea. Enjoy!

Dreamy Eggs

19 Feb

 

The thing to keep in mind in learning how to cook is it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Simple flavors, simple technique, can blow you away. I even say the simplest flavors are the best, because we don’t really mess them much from what the Mother Nature has given us.

Coming from a tropical country with seriously HOT weather, even summer in Sydney gives me chill. All I wanted to do was curl underneath my lovely warm blanket, but alas, I’m starving.  (It took me 3 days to finally able to go outside without socks. – I suck, I know)

So I went downstairs and grabbed the first thing I saw in the fridge. (Thank God my host family here allows the student to utilize the kitchen!)  Eggs. The round, soft brown, familiar little thingy said the loudest hello when I peeked.  

Omelet it is.

I never took eggs seriously before this morning. I usually fried that poor thing until it’s overcooked and died and went to hell.  But since I arrived in Sydney I have developed a new little habit.

I like to listen to Jamie Oliver to sleep.

Best remedy when I can’t sleep, pop up his Ministry of Food Podcast and listen to it until I drown into deep sleep.

Guess when you do that every single night because you’re not comfortable in a strange bed in a new city, what he said sticks in your head. (Note to self: do that for the next final exam)

 I remember him saying that omelet can taste awesome rather than just an ordinary breakfast. I remember his facial expression and how he pour the oozy yellow liquid on to the pan, and make that movements in the middle of it before the eggs sets and how It would result in creamy, melt in your mouth omelets.

So I did it. And oh, bless you Jamie. I love it! It might also be the prettiest omelet I made, ever. (I actually fold it in to half a circle!)

I also sautéed couple of mushroom with butter before I poured the eggs in, but eggs are so versatile, you can just  put anything inside and it’d be delicious.

Up is the video that I’m talking about, taken from his website. But to be honest, for better quality, just subscribe his podcast at itunes. It’s free!