Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mouse Baked Alive In Our Home-Oven!

Partially, this post belongs to the previous posted post. An unfinished ramblings of baking goods, celebrations and the past. Speaking of the past, the eve and the actual celebration of this year's Chinese New Year was not really enjoyable and does not seem to be one. That was the term where distressing news arrived; grandma with her badly infected ulcer needed to be warded and hospitalized. It's a pity to see such an old-aged sub-consciously mumbles about the excruciating pain she had been suffering since the admittance. With frail movements and a stop to pant for more air, that was painful to see. Even more painful to withstand. A tough woman as all I know, may god blesses her all the time.

The days were gloomy and the celebration was not happily celebrated. Thus, cookie-making were not as much as what we have for the last time. Only some of the favorites were there to entertain the guests and shall we say,
us. Most of the time, we visited
grandma and it's pointless somehow, for guests to come over. We've celebrated the new year with grandma, that's the least that we can do for her.

The truth is; that is the only time we sincerely had a talk or two with her. Her existence and consciousness was very much appreciated and that is the time when I, myself had realized that I couldn't care less to share my thoughts and days with her when she's all good. Pathetic.
Grandma is now all good, though she might have some breathing difficulties at times. We were grateful to have her with us, knowing that part of her blood does run through our veins.

Apart from pooches and our personal ramblings, we do speak of rodents too. Since this year is the year of rodent and mouse, we get in touch with other bakers and manage to get a pineapple tart recipe, which will be in the form of prosperous rodents. The mouse-look alike pineapple tart were small, moulded in bite-sized pieces. The tart was not as great as we've expected. We wanted a smoother and milky texture; the one that melts in your mouth kind of tart. As lazy as we usually are, the pineapple fillings were bought from the bakery supplies. Not a wow-tart after all, since the fillings aren't home-cooked.

The other mousse-look-alike cookie that made into our list of new year cookies were the one on top (shot above). These babies were made out of butter, flour, baking soda, finely grounded almonds and orange zests. Orange zests were used to spice things up, we were afraid that the cookie tasted too bland, hence here goes the zests.

Moulded the dough into an oval shaped-cookie, stuffing in chocolate rice to resemble the eyes and the nose of a mouse and lastly, two almond flakes for the ears! The rodents turned out flatter than they do before they were trapped into the oven. And we've missed out their tails. Let's put it this way, we've actually docked their tails. Ouch!

Mom had her best cookie on the mill too; almond cookies and groundnut cookies. Thus, the cashewnut cookies does not leave far behind too. The cookie was a normal shortbread cookie with addition of grounded cashewnut to it.

The grounded cashews were lightly toasted to enhance and to intensify the cashewnut flavor. The surface of the cookies were brushed twice with beaten egg yolks after each of the cookies were decorated with halved-cashewnuts. We love the egg-washed cookie's color though - golden brown.

The one with great crunchiness all over were these home-baked melting moments (shot above). The other name christened to these babies were cornflake-cherry cookies. The secret to a melt-in-your-mouth cookie is a sticky dough. Too much flour will only lead to bad repercussion; hard as a rock cookie. The cookie was a simple shortbread cookie. After rolling a cookie dough approximately 1 tablespoon in size, we rolled it onto a bowl filled with lightly crushed cornflakes. This ends with the cubed cherry as topping.

The shortbread was so crunchy and melts-in-your-mouth at the same time, we went crazy over the dough and came up with a simple chocolate chip and butter cookie; chocolate chip crunch. The cookie jar which was the home for sheltering the choc chip crunch lasted for 2 days. Much were gone into our stomachs. It was very buttery and crunchy. This was one of our favorite cookie of all. Yum!

The same shortbread cookie recipe for used for the M&Ms choc chip cookies. The only difference were the additions of handfuls of M&Ms. But we found out that the M&Ms was tad hard after the baking session. But the cookie was still good.

We have so much leftover cereals - cornflakes. We bumped into our CNY book recipe, and land our hands on this (shot above). The cornflake cups were easy and doesn't involve much work. We replaced the golden syrup over honey. Yum! Oh yeah, last but not least, happy belated CNY. This is so over. Like the old adage goes, better late than never.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reviving The Dead Blog - Our Last Xmas

Blog has been in a coma status for, lemme see, 3 months at least? And it's a wake up call to kick start the blogging craze after finding out that the pen drive is jam packed with hundreds of unedited shots. Thinking aback, things happened pretty quick, which came into our favor since grandma were hospitalized for a very long period, no thanks to the infection and ulcer that she had been suffered from. We were glad that grandma is doing just fine right now. And yea, it's time to jump start old posts besides working on our new layout for our blog. Once we have upgraded our blog version, old template was gone for good, which lures in the new background. It might be too messy, like they say; overwhelmed with calligraphy-drawn cherry blossoms. As for the banner, we managed to squeeze in the fantastic four; the four best loved pooches. Take a quick glance at the top banner which is embedded with a pink border; you'll see (from left to right) Whisky the Australian Silky Terrier, R.I.P Missy the mix Spitz, Rufus the White Miniature Schnauzer and last but not least, Boobie the Golden Retriever. A brand new layout for the brand new year; which seems to be the first post of the year 2008. =)

Well, we will start off with our last Christmas baked goods, and no sooner or later, there will be the other procrastinated and outdated post of the very belated Chinese New Year celebration. On Xmas, we loathe on buttercream, cheese and chocolates for goodies like cakes and cupcakes. Where else, on CNY eve, we loathe on tubes of butter and flour for cookie-making. The similarities; festive seasons is all about baking, family gatherings and the kindness of sharing. (when you have too much cookies in the cookie-nook) =P

On the Xmas eve, we lay our hands onto rolling a baked chocolate sponge; a Xmas Yule log cake for a small Xmas Gathering in our low-cost home. We've always wanted a Yule log cake for Xmas, and we thought this might be IT. Our first Yule log cake. A Yule log cake; a rolled cake with luscious filling modeled similarly like a fallen log, frosted with cream and decorated with chocolate shavings, icing sugar, meringue mushrooms, cocoa powder and dummies. We slack off, and leave the meringue mushrooms behind. As for the dummies, a mini Mr. Santa will do just enough though we love the reindeer and the elves. A spongy chocolate sheet were baked and laid on a parchment paper. The parchment paper were lightly sprinkled with fine sugar to avoid cake sticking onto the parchment paper. We proceeded to the creamy chocolate buttercream and a simple Whisky-infused syrup while cooling off the chocolate sponge. After spreading the buttercream with a long spatula, we begin the rolling session. While rolling, brush the chocolate sheet with the syrup to forbid the sponge from cracking. When the rolling is done, we frosted the entire log cake with the remaining buttercream and top off with chocolate shavings, Mr. Santa, peppermint flavored candy canes and edible firs; made out of buttercream. More details about Yule log cake here.

How can we not bake cupcakes during the festive season or even gathering?! It consumes less time and just by venturing into different flavor and colors of buttercream, we will have many cupcake flavors to offer. By whisking the vanilla cupcake batter, we manage to offer four flavors to the crowds; vanilla cupcakes filled with either chocolate ganache, strawberry jam fillings, peppermint chocolate ganache and vanilla pudding. Vanilla cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache were given a swirl of green vanilla buttercream and a snowflake-like design.

Shot above; vanilla cupcake filled with peppermint chocolate ganache and topped off with vanilla buttercream and halved candy cane. To pull the peppermint-look, mint leaves were used as its decor.

Then, we have this vanilla cupcake with vanilla pudding as filling. The pudding were filled into the cupcakes using the cone method; see here. It was then topped off with buttercream which resembles an Xmas tree decorated with pink ornaments. A star-shaped sugarpaste were placed onto the top of the fir-tree.

The strawberry cupcake; a vanilla cupcake filled with strawberry jam filling were given a purple swirl buttercream and ended up with a yellow star-shaped sugarpaste.

As we still have two tubes of Philly's cream cheese in the refrigerator, we were keen to whisk up David Lebovitz's Black Bottom Cupcakes as there were rave reviews about it. The chocolate cupcake batter were moist and not as dense as we've expected. And the cream cheese as part of the cupcake filling is real yummy; to be licked with bare fingers.

Our version of Black Bottom Cupcakes rises too much and it might be over-filled. Thus, we came up with chocolate whipped cream as its frosting. We so wanted to serve these babies without frosting, but the fact is it's too volcano-like; a volcano waiting impatiently to erupt. We opt for the lighter frosting; whipped cream rather than the usual buttercream though it can withstand heat better than the former. Lastly, we top the cupcake with halved bittersweet chocolate block. The Black Bottom Cupcake was a hit relatively to the plain cupcakes. The chocolatey cupcake blends in well with the light texture of cream cheese and whipped cream, and it was not too creamy and sweet for the hard-to-please people.

Henceforth, the last and remaining tube of cream cheese went to the White Chocolate And Banana Cheesecake in cupcake form - spoon to eat. The recipe was basically adapted from Women's Weekly. The change were the addition of melted white chocolate into the cheesecake, white chocolate ganache topping and digestive biscuit cum walnut base. The cheesecake filling; mashed bananas and silky white chocolate ganache teamed up with the digestive biscuit cum walnut base was half the divinity. We should have sprinkled handfuls of chocolate chips in it; and it'll be a definite keeper for the night itself. The topping; white chocolate ganache hardened; which leads to the conclusion of one fourth of divinity. We ARE still wondering why does it harden though there were quite an amount of whipping cream which were used to infused with the melted white chocolate. It forms into a hard yellowish disk and people were ditching away the disk just to get a taste of the filling. Oh boy.

The last baked goods of the night was a pan of Walnut Chocolate Brownie. The brownie does not turned out to be as moist as the book have stated. It might be overbaked but we were very sure that it wasn't because the brownie was already taken out of the oven a few minutes earlier. This calls for sweetened syrup to be brushed onto the brownie's surface and hot chocolate fudge as its topping. It might not sound appealing but it DOES save the night. The brownies were sliced into mini rectangles, and lastly topped with toasted walnuts, a dust of icing sugar and mint leaves.

There were many left-overs though. Some of them packed the goodies away while some went down to our stomach. Let's just say; OVERDONE! The Xmas gathering was a fun-filled night, plus, it's peaceful - just the way we like it. =)