I have a pack of ground hazelnut which is close to expiry, so I thought I’ll find something to make with it.

I scanned through the many Chinese recipe books that I’d bought recently (from the hubs recent trip to China, as well from the Bookfest @ Malaysia 2010) checking the ingredient lists until I spotted ‘ground hazelnut’.

This recipe comes from the famous Taiwanese baking expert Teacher Meng (孟老师), who has published many books. Not sure if you agree with this, I find the end results of the recipes written/created by a Japanese or Taiwanese more to my taste as they are normally lighter and less sweet.

Hazelnut Cocoa Balls

♥Recipe for Hazelnut Cocoa (榛果可可球)♥
Adapted from 孟老师的下午茶 by 孟兆庆
Make 30 balls.

You’ll need :
90g unsalted butter
40g icing sugar (if you like something sweeter, you can make it 50g)
110g low protein flour or cake flour
2tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
50g ground hazelnut

Method :

1) Using a spatula, mix butter and sugar until well combined, stir in sifted flour and cocoa powder.

2) Add in ground hazelnut. Mix the mixture with hand, until a firm dough is formed.

3) Place the dough ball in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30mins.

4) Preheat oven to 170C.

5) Cut dough into ~8g pieces, and roll these pieces into balls. Arrange these balls on a baking tray laid with parchment paper

6) Bake them for 20mins, turn off the oven, and leave the tray in the oven for another 10mins.

7) Remove the biscuit from tray and cool them on a wire rack. Once cool, coat the with icing sugar (I put a few tea spoon of icing sugar in a cointainer with lid, put a couple of biscuits into the container and cover the lid, gently shake the cointainer until the biscuits are coated with icing sugar, repeat until all biscuits are coated with icing sugar)

Hazelnut Cocoa Balls

The biscuits are indeed rather light, with a slight crunch, and a tinge of bitterness.

Hazelnut Cocoa Balls

September

9

Strawberry Jam

This is not something we can do frequently in Malaysia, unless you live in Cameron Highlands, since strawberries are so expensive here.

However, if you have made a trip to Cameron Highlands, and you have heaps of left over strawberries, especially those which has been bruised during the long car journey, this is what you can do (although the original recipes asked that no bruise recipes should be used, but I did it anyway by cutting away the ‘bruises’).

Whatever stawberries left over from making the strawberry tart (which is several punnets), I too made them into jam.

♥Recipe For Strawberry Jam♥
Adapted from BBC Food Recipe

You’ll need

500g of strawberries
250g of castor sugar (I reduce the sugar to half)
Juice of half a lemon

Method

1) Hull and cut the strawberries into quaters.

A pot of strawberries

2) Place the strawberries into a large bowl with the sugar. Turn carefully to mix and coat well, then cover with cling film and place into the fridge for about 3hrs (the reciepe asked that it be refrigerated over night), let them macerate.

Strawberry with sugar

3) Place a saucer into the freezer to chill – you’ll need this when you come to test the setting point of the jam.

4) Sterilise the jam jars, I just wash them with warm soapy water, and then pour hot water over them like how I sterilise my daughters’ milk bottles.

5) Remove the pot (with the strawberries) from the fridge and add in the lemon juice. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.

6) Bring the strawberries up to the boil then boil until the jam reaches setting point. Check the setting point every ten minutes, although it may take up to half an hour to reach setting point.

7) To test the setting point, remove the pan from the heat. Take your saucer from the freezer and place a drop of jam onto the cold plate. After a few seconds push the jam with your finger.

If the jam surface wrinkles then it has reached setting point and is ready. If it slides about as a liquid, then it hasn’t reached setting point and should be returned to the heat and boiled for a few more minutes before testing again.

When setting point has been reached, turn off the heat.

8 ) Let the jam cool and thicken in the pan for ten minutes. Stir the jam, then ladle it into the sterilised jars.

9) Cover with a lid while still hot, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year (but in our tropical weather, I’d stored mine in the fridge).

Strawberry Jam

The cooking of the jam made the whole house smell sweet and lovely.

This is all I got from all the strawberries. I think the strawberries themselves are sour, making the jam on the sourish side too, although the hubs likes it.

September

6

Missing These

The reason for the lack of updates, I was enjoying these……

♥The Breakfast♥
The Breakfast

♥The Service♥
The Service

♥The Company♥
The Company

♥The Beach♥
The Beach

♥The Beautiful Architecture♥
The Beautiful Architecture

♥The Deco♥
The Deco

♥The Detail♥
The Detail

♥The Restaurant♥
The Restaurant

♥The Sight Seeing♥
The Sight Seeing

♥The Rest♥
The Rest

Grabbing the opportunity to enjoy its opening rate, we had a week’s holidays in the newly opened Westin in Phuket.

I just realised that I’m baking, cooking and making things more frequently than I update this site, this is due to the increasing activities that my eldest has to attend, which I have to drive her to; and the earlier bed time routine that I have established. My daughters sleep at 11pm or later. I used to stay up after them to do the things I like to do, but nowadays, I fall asleep together with them.

I made these two weeks ago, and I only have time to post this now. Oh well, better late than never.

In Malaysia, strawberries are considered expensive, and because of this we don’t normally make a dessert using strawberries.

Two weeks ago, my neighbour went to Cameron Highlands, so I got her to buy me RM20 worth of strawberries. She delivered 3 big and 5 small punnets to my place when she returned. Imagine the strawberries sold in the supermarket cost about RM15 per punnet, this is like a super cheap sale!

However, the strawberries were extremely sour, and due to the car journey, 80% of the fruits were bruised. So I have to work with two types of strawberries, using the nice whole ones for a strawberry tart (recipe included), and made strawberry jam (recipe in next post) with the bruised and soft ones.

Strawberry Tart

There’s something about desserts made with strawberries. They just look so beautiful. It gives such a nice presentation, and always gets the “Oooos” and “Aaaaas” when it’s served? Don’t you agree?

My girls were sooo attracted by the beautiful tart, they were crowding around me when I was assembling it; before even given a chance to try the tart, my younger one told me cheekily, “Wow, this is nice. You are the best cook in the world, mama.”

Strawberry Tart

♥Recipe for Strawberry Tart♥
Make a 22cm tart.

For the Tart Shell
Recipe adapted from Baking by James Peterson

You’ll need :

1 cup cake flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (172g) cold butter, cut into 1/3 inch cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs additional liquid, or 1 egg white if dough is too dry (I didn’t have to use any)

Method :

1) With the paddle attachment, mix both flours, salt and sugar on slow speed for about 30s.

2) Add the butter and combine it with the flour on low to medium speed, for about 1 minute.

3) Add the liquid and mix the dough on low to medium speed for 40s to 2mins, or until it looks like gravel, depending on the temperature of the ingredient. If it is still powdery and looks like grated Parmesan Cheese after 2 mins, pinch a piece to see if it comes together. If it falls apart, add 2 more tbs of liquid; if it holds together in a clump, continue mixing.

4) (optional) If at any point the dough no longer feels cold, put the mixer bowl in the refrigerator or freezer for 15mins. Mix the dough on low to medium speed for 1 to 4 mins

5) The dough will clump together into a cohesive mass when it’s ready. Refrigerate if you are not using it right away.

6) Lining the tart pan with the dough : Roll out the dough, making sure it’s at least 4 inches wider in diameter than the pan you’re using. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan. Press the dough into the corners of the pan and press the dough against the rim of the ring and cut off the excess. If the dough cracks, patch it with another piece.

7) To bake the tart shell blind (or empty) : Preheat oven to 200C. Place a piece of parchment paper or aluminium foil over the dough. Make sure the paper is large enough that it’s easy to pick up by the ends when it’s time to remove the weights (I didn’t do this, and I crack my 1st tart shell when I tried to remove the weights). Use dried beans or rice to keep the shell from puffing up in the oven (You can reuse this but don’t try to cook and eat them). Bake for 15mins for the edge of the tart to turn pale brown (when it’s time to take out the beans or rice) and another 15mins for the inside of the shell to turn golden brown and look matte instead of shiny.

For the Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling

You’ll need :

1 cup of whipping/heavy cream
2 tbs of granulated sugar

Method :

Whip cream and sugar in a small bowl placed in a bigger bowl filled with ice water (to retain the temperature) until stiff peak form. It should take about 5minutes.

Assembling the Strawberry Tart

You’ll need :

1 punnet of strawberries
1 baked tart shell
1 sweetened whipped cream

Method :

1) Cut the stem off the strawberries.

2) Use a spatula to spread the sweetened whipped cream over the surface of the tart.

3) Arrange the strawberries around or over the tart.

4) Refrigerate before serving

Strawberry Tart

When you serve, just sit back and enjoy the “Oooos” and the “Aaaaas”; anybody who’s not visually challenged would have loved the presentation of this dessert.

My girls who didn’t like the sourness of the strawberries, removed the strawberries, and just have the sweetened whippped cream tart.

In the spirit of Ramadan Month, i.e. the fasting month of Muslims all over the world, I thought I’ll try to make kuih (Malay : bite-sized snack or dessert) just for fun.

(To set the record right, although I do not eat pork, and you won’t see any pork recipe here, I’m not Muslim.)

Sago and Coconut Kuih

We were in the book shop over the weekend, and I flipped through this recipe book on Malaysian kuih. I’d forgotten the name of the book, or the name of the kuih, but I remember the recipe. The following day, as it was marketting day (going to the wet market to get our supplies for the week), I bought the ingredients and tried to make them at home.

I’m sure the kuih has a Malay sounding name, but I’ll just call mine Steamed Sago and Coconut Kuih (If you happen to know the name of the kuih, do drop me a comment here).

Zara cutting pandan leaf

(I got my eldest to help me cut strips of pandan leaf)

♥Recipe for Sago and Coconut Kuih♥
Make 10 kuihs.

You’ll need :

1 big banana leaf
100g grated coconut
100g sago
1 pandan leaf cut into strips (optional)
3 Tbs brown sugar*
4 Tbs mascovado sugar*
2 Tbs of coconut milk/santan (if you are using dried dessicated coconut, you may want to increase the coconut milk/santan and make sure the coconut is wet through)

(*I use brown and mascovado sugar because this is what we have at home.You can substitude brown with white sugar, and gula malaka with mascovado sugar if you like.)

Method :

1) Rinse the sago once or twice and then soak the sago for about 1.5~2hrs. Drain the water when the sago is soft.

2) Cut the banana leaf into 10 pieces of 15cm squares, remove the hard stem in the centre. Boil the leaf in a pot of water for about 8mins to soften it (to make wrapping easier).

3) Mix coconut, coconut milk, sago and sugar together.
Sago and Coconut mixture

(My eldest, who saw me mixing the coconut and the sago together, was in shock. She asked me, “Are you cooking styrofoam??!!” She thought those sago pearls were styrofoam)

4) To wrap the kuih, put a strip of pandan leaf (optional, I just did it to make the kuih more fragrant) in the centre of the banana leaf, scoop a table spoon of sago and coconut mixture and place it on top of the pandan leaf, over lap the ends of the leaf until a cylinder is formed.
Wrapping Sago and Coconut kuih

Staple one end of the cylinder (the better choice is to use tooth pick to seal up the ends, I have no time for that). Fill up the banana leaf cylinder with more coconut and sago mixture until 2/3 full, then staple the other end as well.

Wrapping Sago and Coconut kuihs

5) Repeat the step until all coconut and sago mixture is used up.

Wrapped sago and coconut kuihs

(You can see I’m a first timer, the sizes of the kuihs are uneven. :P )

6) Steam the wrapped kuihs for 20minutes.

Steamed sago and coconut kuih

I don’t have photographic memory, so I may have skipped an ingredient or two (from the book), but using the above recipe, the kuih turned out to be rather delicious, with the right texture.

Steamed sago and coconut kuih

Not too difficult to make, and it’s very yummy, if you like sago that is.
Steamed sago and coconut kuih

When making my first batch of decorated biscuits, although it was a lot of work, I kind of enjoy doing it, it also gave me a lot of (personal) satisfaction looking at the end product.

Last weekend, I thought I’ll try making another batch, and my 2 daugthers who were very keen in ‘helping’, also got a couple to decorate just for fun.

These were what I made.

Yellow swirls.
Yellow Swirl

Flower Power.
Flower Power

Heart Cookies which can be given away on Valentine’s Day?
Valentine's Cookies?

My daugthers said, they are Queen of Hearts Cookies though (At the present, Alice In Wonderland the movie is one of their favourite show).
Queen of Hearts

My favourite, the snowmen. Anybody want to order this for Christmas?
Snowmen

Snowmen

This round, I distributed them to my family members since I was seeing all of them during the weekend; I also packed some up in 4s, and gave them out to neighbours.

Packed decorated cookies/biscuits

Packed decorated cookies/biscuits

It especially brightened my day when my 5yrs old niece kept asking for more, and I think she ate at leat 5 of them during the weekend in my presence. :)

My sister in law went to Shanghai recently to visit the Shanghai Expo, it was a trip organised by MCA. Besides visiting the Shanghai Expo, some sightseeing and shopping are also squeezed in .

Blueberry Crumble Cake

I didn’t know she was going, or I would have some asked her to pick up some books and DVDs for me. Chinse books are so cheap, most of them RM10~RM20 including cook books (with lots of photos). I’m lucky I came from a generation where tradional Chinese was taught in school and later picked up simplified Chinese, because that’s what it’s used nowadays in Malaysia, so I could read both, which expand the type of the books or websites I could read.

Now, back to my SIL and her Shanghai trip. She bought some organic fresh blueberries on her trip and gave us 2 punnets. I didn’t like them fresh, they were a bit on the sourish side, so I decided to bake a cake using whatever that was left (after hubs have chomped down almost a punnet having them with his cereals).

Blueberry Crumble Cake

I thought I’ll give Annie Belle a second chance when I saw her Cherry Crumble Cake recipe. I once used her recipe to make scones, and they didn’t turn out quite the way I like it, what kind of recipe would tell you to ‘add milk (quantity not specified) until you find the dough is the right texture’? Luckily I’d made scones before and knew what kind of texture is ‘right’, but maybe I didn’t know the ‘right’ texture as well since the scones didn’t turn out nice.

A Slice of Blueberry Crumble Cake

A Slice of Blueberry Crumble Cake

When I was making the crumble, following her ingredients, the crumble came out a bit on the wet side, so I added ~2tbs extra flour. Besides this, the cake turned out exceptionally delicious. The cake bit was soft and buttery, matched with the tartness of the blueberries and the crumbly top, it was delicious.

A Slice of Blueberry Crumble Cake

♥Blueberry Crumble Cake♥
Adapted from Annie Belle’s Gorgeous Cakes
(The fruit used in the original recipe was actually cherries)
Make a 20cm cake

You’ll Need
For the cake :
100g unsalted butter, diced
100g caster sugar
1 egg
90ml milk
125g self raising flor, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
200g Fresh Blueberries

For the Crumble :
90g plain flour + 2tbs extra
50g caster sugar
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
90g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
25g organic porridge oats

Method :
1) Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a 20cm cake tin 9cm deep with a removable base.

2) To make the crumble, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and whizz until the mixture just starts to form large crumbs (or do this by hand). Transfer the mixture from food processor to a bowl and stir in the oats. Refridgerate until ready to use.

3) To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then incorporate the milk, flour, baking powder and lemon zest.

4) Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface.

5) Scatter the blueberries over the surface of the cake (I made them in rows of circle). Top with crumble mixture, and bake for 55~60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

A Slice of Blueberry Crumble Cake

6) The cake can be served warm, about 30minutes out of the oven, or at room temparature.

A Slice of Blueberry Crumble Cake

The last time I had chicken essence was during the confinement of my second child, the confinement lady made them for me almost alternate day, and although having her, I didn’t have to worry about my daily food, her forgetfulness has left her a mark, litterally. She damaged my well seasoned wok and also left a burn mark on our Ikea kitchen top!

Today, the mark in our kitchen, a dark ring on the kitchen top, still reminds us of her, DAILY, even though my youngest is already three and the half.

When my neighbour started making chicken essence and told me how it has helped her to feel more energised, I thought I’ll start to ‘pou’ (補/get nourished) again as well.

Here is the way the eldest taught us how to make Chicken Essence.

Recipe for Chicken Essence
Make ~3 rice bowl of essence.

You’ll need :
1 kampung or free range chicken
1/4 cup of D.O.M Benedictine (optional)

Method :
1) Cut and skin chicken (the chicken seller can help you with this)

2) Cut off pieces of fat that’s still clinging on the chicken

3) Pound the chicken pieces with a pestle or the back of a clever.
Pound the chicken pieces

4) Arange your double boiler. I didn’t have one so what I did was put a smaller bowl over turned bowl in another bigger bowl (make sure the bowls are heat proof or it may crack during your boiling).

Prepare the double boiler

If you are using D.O.M, pour in the D.O.M into the bigger bowl before you put in the over turned bowl.

D.O.M added

5) Arrange the (pounded) chicken pieces on top of the smaller bowl.

Lay the chicken pieces

6) Cover your double boiler. In my case, I used a flat plate to cover the top of the bigger bowl, and place the bigger bowl in a wok 1/3 filled with water. Cover the wok. Double boil for 3 hrs.

Double boil the chicken

7) The juice or the essence of the chicken will drip into the smaller bowl. You can remove the layer of oil/fat on the surface of the essence and served when it’s warm.

D.O.M Chicken Essence

If this is too much trouble for you, then you can always switch to the chicken essence sold in a bottle, but it doesn’t taste as nice as the one you make at home, or as nutritious.

Sue asked if i could make some decorated biscuit for her with Retro design. I had not try decorating biscuits before, so I was a tad reluctant to take the order, because :

1) I don’t know if I can make them to look the way Sue wanted;
2) I’m skeptical about the taste of decorated biscuit.
3) I wasn’t sure if I could make the decorated biscuit without raw egg whites
(I have a principal about what type of orders I’ll take, and it’s, “What I don’t serve my family, I won’t serve to you.”, and raw eggwhite is something I won’t serve to my family, because I have two young kids.)

But anyway, I’m glad I took the challenge, and Sue was willing to take the risk. And, best of all I’m able to make them without having to use any raw eggwhites.

Decorated Biscuit

Decorated Biscuit

I think I bake too often for my daughters, decorating cakes are only done for their birthdays; I find light pastel colours more appealing, so the biscuits just looked a bit too feminine.

Decorated Biscuit - Retro theme

Decorated Biscuit - Retro theme

Decorated Biscuit - Retro theme

I made about 60 of them, although Sue only ordered 40, so we had some to spare at home; my eldest seemed to be the one who ate the most, constantly reaching into the biscuit jar (Tupperware, in our case), until the last one was gone.

I love how the biscuit turned out. It was buttery and not too sweet (even with the layer of royal icing), and it has a nice crunch.

For Sue, as requested, they were all individually packed.
A box of decorated biscuits

Hope Sue and her friends like them as much as we did.

When I saw this recipe from Ellie, I had taken a mental note that I will try it one day.

On Sunday, I woke up slightly earlier to go to the wet market to buy a roast duck. And I already thought of making these buns to go with the duck rather than the usual white rice.

We then invited my MIL and SIL over for dinner.

I started making the dough late. I’d shortened the resting and proofing time a little so that we could still have dinner as usual at 7:30pm; with the duck reheated, other dishes cooked, and buns ready.

Steamed Buns

The buns turned out to be extremely nice and soft. I’m not sure if I had kept to the original resting and proofing time, will it be even softer and fluffier. This is something I will definitely try to make again, so I’ll tell you next time.

♥Momofuku Steamed Buns Recipe♥
Adapted from Ellie of Almost Bordain
Makes 50 buns

You’ll need

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups bread flour
6 tbs sugar
3 tbs non-fat dry milk powder
1 tbs sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder (rounded)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup canola oil (original recipe calls for rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature), plus more for shaping the buns, as needed

Method

1) Fix your stand mixer with the dough hook. Mix all dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer, then add in the water and the oil. At lowest speed possible, ’stir’ the dough for 8~10mins.

2) The dough should gather together into a neat, not-to-tacky ball on the hook. When it does, oil a medium mixing bowl, and put the dough in, cover it with dry kitchen towel. Let it rise until double in bulk, about 1hr 15mins. (I used only 1hr)

3) Turned the rested dough onto a clean work surface. Using a scraper or a knife, divide the dough in half then divide each half into 5 equal pieces.
Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total.
They should be about the size of a ping-pong ball and weigh about 25g.
Roll each piece into a ball.
Cover the little dough balls with kitchen towel and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes. (I used only 15mins)

4) Cut out fifty 10cm squares of parchment paper

5) Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you’re working with (and repeat with each bun made).
Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 10cm-long oval.
Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape.
Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper.

6) Put it back under the dry kitchen towel and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30-45 minutes. They will rise a little. (I used only 30mins)

Buns about to go into the steamer

7) Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes.

Steamed bun

Note 1 : You can use the buns immediately (reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary) or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a stovetop steamer for 2-3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.

The buns were delicious on their own, or filled with different fillings. For Sunday dinner, it was duck meat and lettuce.

Steamed buns with roast duck and lettuce.

The following morning, my eldest had hers with slices of parmessan cheese for breakfast.
Steamed buns with parmessan cheese.

And I had mine with toasted seaweed.
Steamed buns with sea weed.

My youngest didn’t want any. She prefers High 5 bread. o.O”

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