Category Archives: Inspired

Brainchild of Halloween

I feel like I’ve been having the greatest kind of days. You too? Nice.

Each day deviated from the original plans. I met one of my closest friends the other day,with the intention of being all big-girl-like and having a fancy dinner followed by drinks at a swanky new joint. Only thing is we made it to the most cliche old-school dinner place in town (the kind that used to be cool when your mom was your age), cheap manicures, flea markets and a much-deserved foot massage. Oh, and those drinks? Swapped it with bubble tea instead.

And yesterday was meant to be productive, only thing is I spent it watching Harry Potter and baking cupcakes. But it was pretty awesome. And today, the beach was on the agenda, but after a late night of dancing, I think it’s going to be more Harry Potter and eating cupcakes. Probably a horror movie thrown in somewhere all in the spirit of Halloween.

My point is, no matter how you plan things, anticipate the scenarios, draw up a five-year route you’re going to take,it’s really rather amazing to go along with a bit of hope that someone’s got a plan you never thought of, but brings you along anyway. I used to get panicky every time I felt the pressure to come up with something, like I needed to conjure a well-thought of road map, with all my back up plans in place. Plus, the hazard that comes with the work I do requires I think of the worst case scenario in every scenario. But the greatest thing comes when you see that it’s okay to not have a plan, or have a plan different from what people expect you to have. I can deal with different.

I can deal with dancing to the music inside my head. I can deal with laughing at things people don’t find that funny. I can deal with eating ice cream for dinner. I can deal with picnics in the living room. And the best thing is, he can deal with me.

To get started, let’s not make pretty cupcakes. Let’s go all cool and CSI-like. Let’s go with brains.

Brain Cupcakes (Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream)

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook)

3 tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
250g butter, unsalted
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups GF flour blend
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line three 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.

2) Dissolve coffee in hot water. Put the butter, chocolate and coffee into a metal bowl, set over a bain marie, and stir gently until butter and chocolate are thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and buttermilk until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until homogenous.

4) Divide evenly between the 28 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:

1) Fit a piping bag with a 6 or 8 mm round piping tip. Fill bag with the buttercream.

2) To get the design, pipe 2 straight lines down the centre of the cupcakefollowed by a repeated swirl on either sides. For the ‘blood’, the consistency of lightly warmed cherry/raspberry jam works well. Ensure the jam has NO seeds.

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Plum Tray Bake with Lavender & White Chocolate Custard

Holiday plans work like coffee for me. Gives me that instant high, feeling all excited, imagining a whole new world of endless possibility.

Then there’s work.

Work isn’t bad. Work gives us the financial support for such day dreams of glorious sightseeing, late mornings and waking up in a place that allows you to be a new person; even if it’s just for a week. Work also makes the holidays so much better, it’s a bonus really! It’s like you paid the same amount as the dude next door, but because your job works you that much harder, you feel this much better. Score!

I like to make believe my work week gets lifted to loftier heights when I manage to squeeze in a bake session. Probably makes it even better when I feel utterly inspired and do something like whisk dried lavender flowers into my creme patisserie. And then it gets way groovier when I now have dessert sorted for the movie marathon with my man tomorrow.

What? It’s not Friday yet?!

Plum Tray Bake with Lavender & White Chocolate Custard

250g cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
160g unsalted butter, softened
120g brown sugar
1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour (or  sorghum or buckwheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
400g plums, re-seeded and sliced about 1cm thick
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a 18 x 28cm baking pan with greaseproof paper.

2) Add cream cheese, vanilla, caster sugar and 1 egg to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

3) Place butter, brown sugar, flour and remaining 3 eggs in a clean bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Spread the flour mixture in the tray followed by half the cream cheese mixture, swirling gently to combine. Top with half the plums. Repeat the process with remaining flour mixture, cream cheese mixture and plums. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the cake and bake until golden. About 50-60 minutes.

4) Remove the plum tray bake from the oven, allow to cool, dust with some icing sugar and serve warm with custard.

Lavender and White Chocolate Custard

1 cup milk
300ml thickened cream
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender flower buds
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g white chocolate, chopped

1) Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar and egg yolks together int a bowl until lightened. Slowly pour the hot milk/cream into the egg yolk mixture, all the while whisking to ensure the yolks don’t screamble.

2) Return the mixture to the pot and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Add in the vanilla and dried lavender flower buds. When mixture begins to bubble, remove from heat immediately, whisking vigorously. Fold in the white chocolate until it has all melted. Run the custard through a sieve to remove lumps and flower buds. Serve with tray bake.

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Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Custard, Fruit, Inspired, Recipes

[Do it like a Dude] Chocolate Beer Cupcakes, Ganache & Beer Frosting

Sometimes you forget that it’s important to make a cupcake that involves three procedures. You don’t realise that it’s probably what you needed to get your head screwed on right. To know that whatever happens, stirring warm cream and dark chocolate will work better than any other form of therapy.

There are cupcakes, the sort that lay it all out for you; cake and frosting. Then there are cupcakes; the ones that hold dark secrets. Maybe they’re more like people; we all have secrets, stories we haven’t told, things we can’t share, the very ones that make us who we are. They don’t define us, they merely shape the way we operate. Much like us, these cupcakes aren’t about to bare all. It’s a dark chocolate cake, filled with ganache and topped with beer frosting. Yeah, it looks like chocolate and vanilla; but the beer gives the cake such an edge, it’s worth trekking to your local store for a gluten-free beer just so you can experience this all for yourself.

Things have happened since I last wrote, and with all that’s said and done, I’m glad I’m returning with these cupcakes; familiar, yet different.

Am I starting to trail off? Are we even talking about cake anymore?

Probably. Most definitely.

Cake makes my heart sing. I hope it does the same to yours too.

Happy New Year, a little late, but better than never! :)

I used Guinness for my cupcakes since the lucky guy who’s receiving them isn’t gluten intolerant. Please, PLEASE find a gluten-free version if you’re allergic to it. I’ve seen sorghum beers around and I’d like to suggest that beer/root beer may work as well!

Chocolate Beer Cupcakes (Adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook, makes 12 standard)

1 1/2 sticks butter (180g)
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder (or any natural cocoa)
3/4 cup dark stout (Guiness or try a cola or root beer; poured and settled before you measure)
2 large eggs, broken
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup + 1 tbsp GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and stout. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

3) Whisk the flours, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sour cream together. Add in the chocolate-stout mixer and mix well. Add in the flour mixture and mix until no white streaks remain. Divide evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

5) Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin to cool completely.

6) To fill, use a small sharp knife to cut a ‘cone’ out of the tops of the cupcakes. Using a melon baller or a small teaspoon, hollow out the hole a little more so it can hold more ganache. Using another teaspoon, fill each cavity with ganache. Top the cupcakes with the cone you just cut out. Press gently so it’s almost flat.

7) Using a palette knife, spread two tablespoons of frosting over the cupcake. Dust with cocoa powder. ENJOY!

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup 55% chocolate chips

1) Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.

2) Heat the cream in a microwave-proof bowl in 30 second bursts until it starts to bubble. Pour over the chocolate.

3) Using a spatula, slowly stir until all chocolate has melted and combined happily with the cream. Allow to stand until it’s of a spreadable consistency.

Beer Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, softened (120g)
2 2/3 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp stout
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 2 cups of icing sugar together until well combined.

2) Add in the stout, vanilla and salt. Mix well.

3) If icing isn’t stiff enough, add in the icing sugar, 1/3 cup at a time until you get your desired consistency.

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An Edible Bouquet

This is a post dedicated to my amazing grandmother who has just turned 81, yet manages to look not a day older than 61. She’s one of those women who’s a clear example of living to the fullest. She still drives around (in fact, she got a new car for her birthday!), joins her friends for dancing, jets off on holidays and returns with many stories to tell. Actually, most of my aunts find it rather hard to keep up with her fashionable self. And like all grandmothers, she is the best cook. No, really, I know you’re thinking I’m being slightly biased, but I tell no lies.

So, Happy Birthday Grandma! I can only hope to be as rockin’ as you when I’m all grown up.

 

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Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Crumble

Many things amaze me but some things never fail to keep amazing me. Take the punnet of blueberries I bought for example. First berry; hmmm, sweet. Second berry; wow, they are sweet. Third berry; omg, STILL SWEET! And so it goes on, until I decide that this is quite mind boggling seeing that I’ve visited a few countries and have never had a whole punnet of sweet, non-pucker-face-inducing berries before. I am in awe. Is it just me?

And then there are blackberries, raspberries… it’s almost weird having non-sour berries.In a good way though, obviously.

The last few days in NY have been sweltering, the kind of heat that makes you want to eat fro-yo for dinner and call it a day with some ice-cold water. Who knew I’d rekindle my love for air-conditioning only after a week of complaining that the weather was too cold and wet. Now, all I want to do is beg the folks at Starbucks to let me be the night security guard in exchange for air-conditioning. Think they’ll buy it? Just the other day I paid $16 bucks to spend a much needed 2 hours wandering the National History Museum, to look at the exhibits (and bask in their glorious air-conditioned climate). So much for natural history.

Another good excuse to crank on the AC; baking. Blueberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and crumble topping. I’m sure my aunt would see it as a good exchange for me using her AC. Better still, she has one in the kitchen, so EAT THAT kitchen in Singapore which has no air-conditioner. Alright, less typing, more eating. Get with it! :)

Blueberry Cupcakes (makes 12)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
1 cup gluten free oat flour (from Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup rice milk (or any other milk you prefer)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper liners.

2) Cream butter and sugar together. Mix the flours and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

3) Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating well to combine. Add in the flour and milk alternately and mix until completely homogeneous. Fold in the berries gently.

4) Divide batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean or with only a few crumbs. Let cool in tray for 10 minutes and remove from tray to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese (240g)
3 oz butter (90g)
2 – 3 cups pure icing sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1) In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together (I used a handheld mixer, arm power!)

2) Beat 2 cups of the icing sugar and the lemon juice. If you prefer a sweeter frosting, keep adding the icing sugar until you’re sugar happy. Let chill a little in the fridge before using.

Crumble

1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
4-5 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup pure cane sugar

1) Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add in the oil, one tablespoon at a time until you get a slightly wet but still crumbly mixture. Pour onto a tray lined with parchment. Bake in a 170°C oven for 12-15 minutes or until crunchy. Let cool before using.

To Assemble

1) Take one cool cupcake, top with a big tablespoon of cream cheese frosting, swirl with a palette knife and top with more berries and the crumble. Arrange on a plate and impress your guests’ socks off. :)

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Cake Truffles

You know those cake pops that’s got everyone’s mind in a whirl? I thought I hated them. It’s such a bizarre concept to hate such an adorable thing, but I did.

It started like any other love story; a love at first sight thing. And I figured they had to take yummy because they looked it and everyone was gaga over them. So a yellow cake and some frosting later, I had my ‘cake pop’ mixture ready to be turned into lovely, squishy gobs on a stick. It was a no brainer…until the cake pops started sliding down, down, down the lollipop stick until it eventually made it’s way to the bottom. Upside down pop? More like a massive hole in my squishy gobs. That’s it, we were through. I never laid eyes on a cake pop ever again.

But a recent turn of events, kicked started by a highly successful vanilla cupcake recipe meant I had a new found confidence instilled in me, raring to take on all the things I had failed to conquer in the past (gluten free choux pastry- you better watch out!). And so the chocolate loaf cake half that was sitting so patiently in the fridge along with some leftover ganache were married together. And I lined a baking tray, formed my little truffle-like balls and left them in the fridge to set. And today, I dipped them in melted couverture chocolate and voila! No sticks but definitely tastier than loser cake pops.

This recipe is a rough guideline. I think that the amount of frosting needed to form the pops depends largely on the type of cake you’re using and the moisture levels in them. My chocolate loaf was fairly dense and moist so I only added 4 tbsp of ganache for half a cake. The mixture should come together easily but still have a couple of bits which you can slowly meld into one to form pops that won’t slide; even better, they’re cake truffles. Say it with me…cake truffles. I bet you could even use softened Nutella as your ‘glue’ and cover them with nuts. Ferrero Rocher truffles.

Tomorrow I shall find myself in a land entirely different from my own. For one, I will find myself rendered quite useless at communicating effectively. If I were to do as the locals do, I would be having milk tea for breakfast alongside a huge fluffy bun filled with lashings of butter which cafe owners will oblige with wild abandonment. Lunch will roll around at any time of the day; so long as my stomach begs for it. Dinner? It doesn’t exist. They will simply all be clustered into a category called ‘meals’. It’s silly to keep track really. Hong Kong makes me hungry.

I will be back soon, til then, go make some cake truffles!

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Swirly Cake

5 things I’d like to do in 2011

1) I’ve decided that I want to visit Auckland. It started with a travel story I was working on for work and now I’m totally psyching myself to go.

2) Learn to take better photos for the blog

3) See Rachel Allen when she comes to Singapore for the World Gourmet Summit!!!

4) Finally stop cutting my hair when I have every intention of growing it out

5) Get the milia under my eyes lasered off

That is all folks. I know it’s a little late in the year to be listings the things I’d like done in 2011 but better late than never. I would also like to say that it is an awesome thing my little sister is coming home soon for Easter break. I see truckloads of laughter and food involved. Also, have I mentioned that I feel utterly glad to have amazing people surrounding me; especially those who indulge me when I feel the need to have dessert for lunch and cereal for dinner. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I think we should have a party. I feel like wearing a dress and sharing cake. And maybe you’d like to come join me? We’ll have a great time, being mad, wearing hats and picking at swirly cake.Actually, the taste of this cake reminds me so much of being a kid that I might want to show up in my pigtails instead. The crumb of the cake is slightly dense and is best consumed on the day of baking. But if you, like me, can’t stomach a whole cake in a mere 8 hours, try reheating it gently in the microwave to moisten it right up.

Swirly Cake (adapted from All-occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake from The Cake Bible)

6 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups GF flour blend
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
12 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp chocolate chips, melted

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 9-inch round baking tin with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

3) In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.

4) Add the butter to the flour and beat with a paddle attachment on low until it resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add in the egg yolk mixture and beat on medium until fully incorporated. Add in the milk and beat to combine.

5) Remove half of the batter and mix with the melted chocolate until smooth. Alternate pouring the yellow batter and chocolate batter into the baking tin. Use a toothpick or knife to create swirly patterns. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean (I didn’t really check the timing of mine).

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