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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Rich Moist Brownie

Brownie has always been my favourite dessert for a long long time... since I was a teenager. That was until I baked my very first brownie in 1999. I remember being so elated when I saw a TV program showing the viewers how to make it. It was so simple that I couldn't believe it. Immediately the next day, I went out and bought the necessarily ingredients. Happily and excitedly I measured and stirred the batter. All the while thinking to myself : 'Gosh, my very first brownie. I can eat as much as I want without having to pay a bomb for it.' Everything was going smoothly until it suddenly sank hard in my brain how much sugar, not to mention butter was in the batter. Well, that's basically it. It literally killed every desire or craving I have for brownie from that day onwards. Honestly, I didn't even took a bite of my brownie. My family loved it although they find it a bit overly sweet. I swore off brownie, really.

Even to this day, I don't crave for it. But what do you know? Life is funny. A few years later, I met my brownie match... in Pierre. He loves brownie to bits. Well, I think cheese cake takes 1st place. And now, our Little One loves brownie too. Over the years I have made a few brownies but none tasted as good as this recipe. Yes, I broke my brownie swear and tasted it for all of you - it was awesome! So good that I even forgot it was calorie loaded and ate more than I should. It's very addicitive.

Rich Moist Brownie

Adapted from 'Je veux du chocolate!' by Trish Deseine

Ingredients
  • 100 g dark brown sugar
  • 125 g sugar
  • 120 g dark chocolate
  • 90 g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 90 g plain flour
  • 50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
Rich Moist BrownieRich Moist Brownie
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F - gas mark 4).
  2. Grease a square baking pan - about 20 cm in diameter. Set aside.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate in microwave oven or bain-marie. I melt mine over a steamer. Let it cool a little.
  4. Stir in the beaten eggs, then the sugar and lastly the plain flour.
  5. Add in the roughly chopped walnuts.
  6. Pour the batter in the greased pan.
  7. Bake it for about 30 minutes. It should be crispy on top but moist on the inside.
  8. Let cool a bit before savouring it slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
The Verdict

Crispy on top, rich & moist inside... sinfully delicious. Full of chocolatey flavour with a bit of crunchy nuts in the mix. Top it with a layer of chocolate icing ... sends you to chocolate heaven. One can never get chocolate intoxication, can we?

Rich Moist Brownie
Notes

The original recipe uses 225 g of white sugar - it might be a wee bit too sweet for non-sweet tooth people. Instead of walnuts, use other type of nuts, especially hazelnuts.

Rich Moist Brownie
6 comments on this post.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

A new year a new beginning... so the saying goes. Seems like it is ringing true for us right now.

When we left France for our summer holidays in Singapore, little did we know we will be staying here for good. You see, Pierre's application for his Employment Pass (EP) to work in Singapore has been dragging on for nearly a year without any fruitful outcome. Would you believe that even on the day we went to collect his precious EP, the lady officer scrutinized the approval documents from top to bottom again, letter to letter, as if trying to hunt for another potential flaw that would make the EP null and void. Now collecting that little green credit size card stating Pierre is now a legal alien at another counter took less than 30 seconds (I kid you not). Needless to say, Pierre could hardly believe his eyes, kept saying 'pinch me, please. This is not a dream right. This card is not going to disappear over night right.' Slap him I did.

So what have we been so busy next? Well, last minute rushing here and there, getting documents done to enrol Little One into the French school. Why not a local school? you might ask since Singapore education system is one of the best in Asia. We would dearly love to (and it would cost a lot less) but sadly we couldn't as within 2 months here, Little One had already partially lost the ability to converse in French with her grandparents on the phone and she couldn't even remember simple words like "bird", "I love you", etc. in French. In the event that we had to move back to France in a year or two, getting her back into the French system would be a real issue. So French school it is for her, no matter if it costs us an arm and leg!

And now we are busy house hunting for our nest. So far it is either the apartment/house isn't to our liking or the asking rental price is way too high - classic. Tomorrow we have another viewing of an apartment. Let's hope we will find a place that fits us soon!

To celebrate this beautiful new beginning of our life here in Singapore, I present you this delicious chocolaty cake with chocolate ganache. I learnt to how to make this cake from Kim Cabe of our little ateliers culinaires group in Clermont-Ferrand.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

(Adapted from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook)

prep: 15 minutes
cook: 1 hr, 5 min
other: 15 minutes
serves: 12

Ingredients
  • 1½ cup (200g) semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate bars, 54% cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter, softened
  • 1½ cup package light brown sugar or ¾ cup light brown sugar, ¾ dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I used 3 medium eggs)
  • 2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz) container sour cream or Bridélice, crème légère, 15% or crème fraîche)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz (200g) package semisweet chocolate (dark chocolate, 54%)
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  2. Melt chocolate in a bain-marie ie. using a bowl and pan/pot. (Make sure the bowl fits snugly over the pan) Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of the pan/pot containing hot water. The hot water mustn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Bring the pot of water to a simmer. Stir gently as it melts with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from heat once all chocolate pieces are melted. Gently stir until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Whisk butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until well blended.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.
  5. Stir in melted chocolate, whisking just until combined.
  6. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, alternating with sour cream (or crème fraîche) - beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until blended after each addition.
  7. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow and steady stream, beating at low speed until just blended. Then stir in vanilla.
  8. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 60-65 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.
  10. Just before serving, garnish it by dripping small spoonfuls of choclate ganache around edge of cake.
  11. Enjoy!

Making Chocolate Ganache

  1. Melt chocolate pieces and whipping cream in bain-marie. Whisk until smooth, then stir in butter.
  2. Let stand for about 30 minutes. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes.
Chocolate Velvet Pound CakeChocolate Velvet Pound Cake
The Verdict

The cake on its own is very chocolaty and velvety - soft and moist like a dense sponge cake. Each bite of this cake with the chocolate ganache gives you an orgasmic chocolaty bliss! OK so maybe I'm pushing it a little, but it's really good:-)

I have made this cake twice and each time, it was a total winner with everyone young and old. The 1st cake was for home and it was quite massacred by me (I turned it out a wee bit too early when it was not cooled down yet) but nobody minded the ugly presentation. And the cake was devored in no time at all! The 2nd one was for Little One to celebrate her birthday in school with her teachers and classmates. I made 2 cakes and it was all polished up. The teachers loved it and asked me for the recipe.

Another idea is to make this into a layered cake with the chocolate ganache. It'll be the ultimate heavenly chocolate cake. Can one get enough of chocolate! Clearly NO.

Notes

If you don't have large eggs but have some egg whites sitting in your fridge, use 3 medium sized eggs and a few tablespoons of egg white for this cake and it will turn out marvellously good too.

I have baked once in a 10 inch tube pan and the other time, it was in 2 smaller heart-shaped baking pan. However with smaller pan, please adjust the baking time accordingly.

For the chocolate ganache, I didn't let it stand for 30 minutes. Once it is done, I spread it all over the cake. Alternatively I used a 64% or higher dark chocolates and add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar (powdered).

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
22 comments on this post.

Strawberry Sour Cream Cake

Everyone of us (yes, you included indeed!), at some point in our childhood been eager to grow up. Impatiently waiting with batted breathe for that birthday to come. Remember how excited we were, jumping with glee and joy, in a rush to blow those birthday candles and wishing our birthday would last forever. We were so proud that we couldn't wait to tell everyone we are a year older. Such forgotten fond memories of the yonder years! Many birthdays came and went, so did my enthusiasm about birthdays until Little One came along. Remembering how excited and determined I was to make her perfect 1st birthday - never mind that the only cake I could bake at that time was Quatre-Quart (French Pound Cake) and it was Pierre who taught me how to bake it. I didn't even know how to make a crème chantilly (Pierre had to teach me that too).

Well, Little One is no different. She was over excited and so desperately wanted to be 4 like her best friend, Lise, that she asked me this question almost every day since January: 'Am I 4 yet, mommy? Is today my birthday?' Each time I would say 'Not just yet, poppet. You'll be 4 in 5 months time.' And then came the same wailing scenario 'Mommy, I want to be 4 now like Lise. Why can't I be 4 now? No, mommy I'm not 3½ years old. I'm 4 today just like Lise because I say so.' I have since learnt to be creative in my reply 'Yes, you are almost 4. In x months or x weeks' to keep my little camper happy.

This year Little One celebrated her 4th birthday the big way - a big birthday party at home with her friends (8 kids including her). In France, the parents will drop off their kids with a birthday present at your doorstep and come to fetch them home at the end of the party. Each kid is then sent home with a little goodie bag of gifts & candies (a birthday party souvenir). I like this concept very much as the kids didn't leave home empty handed. So for the next 3 hours or so, you are in charge of X number of kids in your house.

Yes my house was really noisy with kids running here and there! We had everything planned right down to games, gifts, etc...but do the kids really care? NO! Their longest attention span with pinning-the-donkey-tail game (supposedly a game that kids love most) - lasted only like 5 minutes. They preferred to chase each other around the house, playing big-bad-wolf with some kids hiding under the fairy tent while others were upstairs playing in Little One's room. So why bother stressing up myself to baldness thinking up different types of games? One surprising thing that stumped us all was that the kids loved storytelling. They couldn't get enough of that. (Yes, beats me too) They also loved fishing for presents - patiently queuing for their turn. They had so much fun at the party that they didn't want to go home. Then a few weeks later, she celebrated her birthday again in school with her friends and teacher. And Yes! Little One goes around proudly telling everyone who cares (or not) to listen to her: 'I'm 4 years old today.' Never mind that she doesn't even know them at all. What about presents, you might be wondering? APLENTY from family & friends to a point that she now expects more presents to come every day since she is now 4 years old every day. This was her bestest birthday ever... for now.

Now for the birthday cake, as much as I love my chocolaty & moist chocolate cake that I baked for her every year, I felt it was time for a change. So I asked my in-house gourmet, Pierre, who voted for his favourite Sour Cream Cinnamon Coffee Cake from Life's a Feast. I have adapted the recipe into layered cake with crème patissère covered with chocolate ganache.

Strawberry Sour Cream Cake
Strawberry Sour Cream Cake (with crème patissère & chocolate ganache)
Ingredients

Sour Cream Cake

  • 1½ cups sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour (spooned in and leveled)
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (omit this if you are using salted butter)
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter or semi-salted butter (soften, room temperature)
  • 1¾ cup superfine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache

  • 200g (12 oz) semisweet dark chocolate (I used dark chocolate, 54%)
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
Strawberry Sour Cream Cake
Directions

Make the French pastry cream(crème patissieère) first before making the cake. That way, the pastry cream can be chilled in the refrigerator and will be ready for laying.

Making Cake

  1. In a small bowl or container, stir the sour cream (or crème fraîche) and the baking soda together and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  3. Butter two 8 inch heart-shaped baking pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
  4. Mix together the flour, baking powder & salt (omit it if you are using semi-salted butter) in a big bowl.
  5. In another big bowl, whisk the softened, room temperature butter (cut into cubes) until it is smooth and lightened in color.
  6. Add the sugar, 1 or 2 tbsp at a time, and beat it for 6 to 8 minutes until it is light and very fluffy.
  7. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking it for 1 minute after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the vanilla.
  8. Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture, alternating with sour cream (crème fraîche) - beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until it is just blended after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
  9. Spoon the batter equally into two 8 inch heart-shaped baking pan and even the top out, leaving some room on top of pan for cake to rise during baking.
  10. Bake for about 40 - 50 minutes in the preheated oven. The cake is done when it is risen and the top is golden brown and springy to the touch or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Leave the cake to cool on racks for about 15 minutes before turning it out of the molds. Let the cakes cool completely before filling and covering it with chocolate ganache.
Strawberry Sour Cream Cake

Making Chocolate Ganache

  1. Melt chocolate pieces and whipping cream in bain-marie. Whisk until smooth, then stir in butter.
  2. Let stand for about 30 minutes. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes.

Assembling the Cake

  1. Place 1 heart-shaped cake on a cake plate.
  2. Using the back of your spoon or spatula, spread a generous layer of pastry cream (crème patissière) on top of the cake.
  3. Delicately place the other heart-shaped cake on top of the filling.
  4. Spoon and spread the top of the cake generously with chocolate ganache, letting it spill naturally over the sides of the cake.
  5. Arrange the strawberries along the edge of the heart-shaped.
  6. Keep the cake in the refrigerator until it is ready to be served.
Strawberry Sour Cream CakeStrawberry Sour Cream CakeStrawberry Sour Cream Cake
The Verdict

In a classic layer sponge cake, it is usually all about the cream and other fillings, and the sponge cake is secondary (who eats plain sponge cake anyway). This cake however, stands on its own - moist, fluffy yet dense and lightly flavoured in taste complimenting the pastry cream, strawberries and chocolate ganache. Even with all the complimentary toppings and filling, this cake remains just nicely sweet. So if you have a real sweet tooth, please add more sugar to the above recipe.

This cake was so delicious that Pierre requested the same to be made for sister-in-law's birthday. Alternatively, you may also include a layer of sliced strawberries on top of the pastry cream as I originally intended to do but in my hurry to get the cake done, I forgot about until I had covered it with chocolate ganache.

Notes

If you don't have large eggs but have some egg whites sitting in your fridge, use 3 medium sized eggs and a few tablespoons of egg white for this cake and it will turn out marvellously good too.

The original recipe bakes in a 10 inch angel cake pan for about 1 hour and 10 minute. I usually roughly estimates the baking time when I bake this recipe in smaller cake pan. And whatever leftover batter I have, I made them into muffins.

For the chocolate ganache, I didn't let it stand for 30 minutes. Once it is done, I spread it all over the cake and then let it chill in the refrigerator.

Strawberry Sour Cream Cake
13 comments on this post.

4 Velveteers' Verrine

Dear Readers, my apologies for not blogging anything new for a week. After my laptop died on me a few weeks ago, I started using my old PC (used to work on this PC before Little One was born) as an alternative but there were a few things I didn't quite bargain for. Like it used to have very weak Wifi signal that would most of the time prevent me from saving my post, but that was finally fixed by Pierre with a €69 plug. However it didn't fix the age of this PC - surfing or even typing something online is something else when we are also used to newer and faster PC. Just to give a general idea: I can type faster than it can print the letters on screen! I can take 40 winks while reading newspaper or blogs. Yep, it's that slow. So please do bear with me for a while until I get a new laptop.

Today, we are going to make a Verrine. I'm sure you have seen lots of cookbooks specialising on Verrine and even had it in the restaurants, as they have become very popular lately. You might be wondering like I did, what precisely is Verrines?

"A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack." (Wikipedia)

So what has today's 'Verrine' got to do with The 4 Velveteers? Well, after our great adventure at making au naturel Red Velvet Cake (hence our name sake - Aparna, Asha, Alessio & I) and enjoyed it thoroughly, we decided to make it into a monthly event to spur each of us to great heights in our cooking/baking arena. For this month, we decided to make a savoury Verrine. To make it more challenging, we decided to do a blind concoction: each of us picked a secret ingredient and the 4 ingredients were revealed at the same time. I picked Salmon, Aparna chose Cheese while Asha decided on Squash/Pumpkin. Now, of course, Alessio being Al, has to throw all of us out of the loop with his pick of Chocolates. Yes you read it correctly. CHOCOLATES!

This month challenge is quite a difficult one for me as I'm not a great cook like Aparna, Alessio, or Asha. I still have a lot to learn. To be honest with you, I have never made anything with pumpkin or made a verrine before. The last time I tried to make a pumpkin tart, it turned out to be a disaster but my in laws and Pierre bravely ate it all the same. (Well that's another story) Anyway, I toyed with different mix and layers in my head for weeks. At first I wanted to make a curried pumpkin version to go with fresh salmon like sashmi but my curried pumpkin turned out awful. (had to dump it in the bin) so I stroke off that idea. Smoked salmon came to my mind a little bit too late as we have already done our grocery shopping for the week, so I had to stick to original idea of using fresh salmon. Then my mind was roused by the delicious fragrance of steamed gingered salmon with nice crunchy refreshing cucumber. Now how to pair it with cheese, pumpkin & chocolates was another challenge. Soon the idea of chived mixed with cottage cheese with small bits of dark chocolates started playing in my mind - then came the idea of having something crispy like chips ...voilà pumpkin chips was born. So with all that in mind, I finally set out to make my very special verrine. Hope you'll like it too.

4 Velveteers' Verrine
Ingredients
  • fresh salmon (cut into cubes)
  • ginger (peeled, julienned finely)
  • a bit of light soya sauce
  • some pumpkin slices (thin)
  • cottage cheese or mozzarella (cubed)
  • grated dark or small broken bits chocolates
  • some chives (chopped finely)
Directions

Preparing Salmon layer

  1. In a small bowl, marinate salmon with a bit of light soya sauce, pepper & ginger. Steamed the salmon for about 10 minutes or until it is cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. (Adjust the steaming time accordingly if it's a big plate of salmon)
  2. Set it aside and keep warm.

Making Pumpkin Chips

  1. Grease a plate (microwave safe) with a thin layer of olive oil.
  2. Coat each slices of pumpkin with olive oil and spaced them out on the prepared greased plate.
  3. Microwave it for 2 to 4 minutes. Then turn each pumpkin slices over and microwave it another 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Take them out and let it crisp up on a clean plate. Continue to do same with the rest of the pumpkin slices.
  5. Voilà, you have your crispy pumpkin chips.

Preparing Cheese layer

  1. In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese or mozzarella cheese with chopped chives and dark chocolates bits.
  2. Set aside.

Assembling Velveteers Verrine

  1. Take a verrine or a glass yogurt pot, spread a thin layer of diced cucumbers.
  2. Spread a layer of gingered salmon on top of the cucumber.
  3. Spoon a layer of cheese mix on top of the salmon layer.
  4. Spread a layer of roughly crushed pumpkin chips on top of the cheese.
  5. Serve immediately.
The Verdict

To my great surprise, it actually turned out good. The ingredients really blends well. The crushed layer of pumpkin chips gives a good flavour and texture to the chived cheese. The introduction of dark chocolate bits in the cheese was kinda odd at first but once we get over the surprise, we start to enjoy this new taste and find that it actually fits. The gingered salmon turned out really good. Overall, you have a very fragrant taste with a crunchy yet springy and refreshing savour all at once.

On the hindsight, I think mozzarella cheese would have been more ideal than cottage cheese as mozzarella is more firm and springy in taste which would go better with the soft textured salmon. For the salmon, perhaps it might have been better to steam it as a whole instead of in small pieces, to make it firmer. And also a more generous layer of roughly crushed pumpkin chips on top. I would like to make this again with this adjustment and experiment with making one with fresh raw salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice (perhaps).

4 Velveteers' Verrine
Notes

When making pumpkin chips, it is best to wipe the plate now and then or else oil accumulates and your chips will turn out to be very oily.

The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) are hosting a monthly event that explores food, cuisine or our passion about something that catches our interests. All of us shares our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.

Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:

4 Velveteers' Verrine
9 comments on this post.

Red Velvet Cake (with beetroot juice)

Red Velvet Cake (RVC) is a mysterious cake to me. Why? Because lots of people crave and rave about it, not to mention even bake it and eat it. But not me.... why not? I don't really know but that bright blood red looking slice of layered cake simply doesn't turn me on. Quite the opposite: my immediate thought was that there must be a horendous amount of food colouring in it. So how come I'm making one today? Well, it all started one day while twittering: Davina, who loves RVC, upon hearing that Aparna & I have never made one before, urged us to try it. That got Aparna & I talking about it, how did RVC got it's red colour, it's origin etc. Little did we know that our curiosity would turn into adventure with Alessio & Asha on board (aptly named the " 4 Velveteers"), each of us trying to make au naturel RVC.

So what is Red Velvet Cake? It's apparently supposed to be a rich, moist layered chocolate cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown colour with either cheese or buttercream frosting - very popular in Southern U.S. The red colour in question comes from either uses of food colouring to get the artificial bright red colour or chemistry reaction between ingredients to get the natural crimson colour - the acidic vinegar and buttermilk brings out the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. From what I understand, with the use of more alkaline « Dutch Processed' » cocoa, the red colour is more prominent. It is said that the natural tinting might have prompted the name 'Red Velvet' or 'Devil's Food' and other similar names for chocolate cakes.

My quest to make an au naturel RVC took me through a sea of recipes on the net - all demanding a lot, I mean really a HUGE, amount of food colouring like 6 tbsp to 4 bottles of food colouring. All the recipes are quite similar from one to another so I decided to ask Davina for her favourite recipe. And this is what I used and adapted from there.

Red Velvet Cake
Ingredients
  • 207 g cake flour (not self-rising flour)
  • 113 g butter (melted)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 4 eggs (separate egg yolks and whites)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 9 tbsp beetroot juice
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 180 ml buttermilk

Cream Cheese-Mascarpone Frosting

  • 180 ml heavy whipping cream or crème fraîche
  • 114 g cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 114 g mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • a few tablespoon beetroot juice
  • 55 g icing/powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 175°C (350°F - gas mark 4 ).
  2. Lightly greased 2x 22 cm cake pan, lined the bottom with baking paper.
  3. In a small bowl, mix well the cake flour together with the cocoa powder. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with sugar, vanilla extract and buttermilk until it is light and double the volume.
  5. Slowly beat in the cooled melted butter and beetroot juice.
  6. Fold in the flour mixture into the batter until combined.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a dash of salt until the peaks are stiff.
  8. Gently fold it into the batter until all is combined.
  9. Divide the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool on the wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting it.
  11. Once the cake is cooled completely, spread a layer of cream cheese-mascarpone frosting on top of the 1st cake. Gently placed the 2nd cake on top of the 1st cake, spread a layer of frosting on tope and the sides.

Cream Cheese-Mascarpone Frosting

  1. Process your cream cheese and mascarpone cheese either in a food processor or handheld mixer until smooth.
  2. Add beetroot juice, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth.
  3. Add in the whipped cream, whisk until stiff peaks form. Your frosting is ready to be used.
Red Velvet Cake
The Verdict

The cake came out surprisingly well. There is indeed a hint of red colour - not the chemical red kind. It's more of a earthly red tone - I kinda like it. Maybe it would be dark red if I had added beetroot puree instead of juice only.

The cake has a kinda spongy like texture which is quite nice, however it is lacking in the taste department. There was only an extremely light hint of chocolate taste in the cake but Pierre would beg to differ on that, finding it really bland. LOL! The frosting is OK but we aren't a big fan of rich creamy frosting like this either.

Do I want to make another attempt to experiment with it to get a better taste and colour? No, I don't believe it is even worth it. When I asked Pierre that question, his immediate reaction was: 'Oh, no. Please get over it and move on.' LOL! That sums up how much we love this cake. So we still don't understand why all the Red Velvet Cake lovers out there are willing to hand out their money for an artificially heightened Red Chocolate Cake. If it is chocolate cake you want, might as well get a real rich chocolately cake sans 4 bottles of food colouring in it, no?

Notes

To make your own cake flour: for every cup of plain flour, replace 2 tbsp of it with cornflour or cornstarch. Sieve it together at least 5 times or more to make sure it is well incorporated together.

To make beetroot juice: Cut your beetroot (cooked) into small pieces, process it in food process until it is a puree. Put the beetroot puree in a muslin cloth, twist it and press out the juice.

Red Velvet Cake

Now that you have seen mine RVC, let's check out the other 3 Red Velveteers: Aparna (her eggless RVC using beetroot puree), Alessio (using his genius brain to create his raspberry RVC) and Asha (tried her hands at chemistry) and see how their experiment turned out.

Psss... this is just the beginning of the adventures of us 4 Velveteers. Remember to keep a look out... you'll never know what we are up to next!;-)

19 comments on this post.

Double Layered Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Time flies so fast... another year gone by in a blink of an eye... Little One is 3 already. As she has been going to the daycare centre 3 times a week to play with other children, I thought it would be a great idea to celebrate her birthday with her little friends and the adults there.

This year I decided to try my hands at making a layered Chocolate Cake. Never done it before so I was kinda stressed and excited about doing it. Woke up at 8.30 am on Tuesday morning, plunged straight in getting the cake ready by lunch time - didn't even have my breakfast. The first cake turned out perfect as I expected. As I only have one 9" cake mold, I had to wait for the first cake to cool down before baking the 2nd one. Impatient me couldn't wait for it to cool down completely and thought it would be alright to unmold the cake after 10 minutes (forgetting that the weather isn't winter anymore but summer climate). Aaaahhhhhh! No! No! No! ... Top half of the cake turned out on the wire rack while the other half stayed stuck onto the mold. What a disaster!:-( Little One heard me screaming and cursing... came running into the kitchen, saw her birthday cake and said: 'oh no, mommy, my cake is broken. Never mind mommy. We can still eat it.' Awww... isn't she such a little sweetheart. Yes we'll eat this broken cake at home.

So I just told myself 'Don't panic. We still got time to do another one'. I had to check the fridge to see if we had enough butter and eggs to make another one. Phew! We did. So off goes my 2nd cake into the oven. Timer went off, took the cake out and saw that the cake didn't rise as much as it should. I was so totally disappointed. Oh no! Not another run of bad luck. Not today of all days, for goodness sake. I just wanted to cry. Sometimes the more we want everything to be perfect, the worst it turned out to be.:-(

It was about an hour later before I got over my disappointment and got myself busy baking the last cake. While the cake was baking, I realized why my 2nd cake didn't rise as much. I left the batter sitting on the counter top way too long waiting for the cake mold to cool down. I forgot that chemical reaction of the baking powder in a wet batter. Anyway, the 2nd cake still tasted as great.:-) Off I went about making my chocolate icing. This time around, I left it in the fridge for a longer time and got the consistency I wanted.:-)

Well, I had no problem in spreading some chocolate icing on the first cake... now how to flip the 2nd cake on top of it without getting it broken into pieces? This chocolate cake is soft, moist and delicate... Holding my breathe, I turned the 2nd cake slowly and gently out onto my right hand. Placing it as delicately onto the first cake as possible without messing the icing on the bottom cake. Phew! I did it... quite pleased with myself actually.:-) Looking at the cake, I realized that the 2 cakes although they were baked with the same mold, didn't turn out to be the same size. The top one was slightly larger than the bottom one. Arrggh! For a while, I toyed with the idea of slicing some bits here and there to make the cake look perfect like the ones from the bakery... in the end, I decided against it. As the saying goes: if it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. Glad I heeded that advice for once.;-) Spreaded the rest of the icing around the cake, topped it up with fresh strawberries. It looked PERFECT. Off it went into the fridge to keep the icing cool until it's time to bring it to the daycare centre. Little One kept coming to the kitchen asking if we can put the candles on her cake now so that she can sing her birthday song and blow out the candles.:-)

Brought my beautiful chocolate cake to the centre... only to be told this: 'What a beautiful cake! Did you made this yourself, mdm?' 'Oh, I'm so terrible sorry, mdm but we can't distribute this cake to the other children in case of any food poisoning arising from it. We will celebrate and blow out the candle, your child will have a slice of her cake and the rest of us adults will take a slice of it too but we can't share it with the other kids. I'm not saying that your cake isn't good or properly done, it's just the rules. We can only share cake with the other kids if the cake is bought sealed in a package from a factory.' Bon! If only I knew this bit of the rules. I guess gone were the good old days when our mother would bake cakes, cookies etc and bring them to our school to share it with our friends and teachers.

Double layered Chocolate cake
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Coconut Chocolate Nut Cookies

Last Christmas Little One was a little too young to understand all the fuss about Christmas. Now that she is a little older, she is more curious about it - she even helped me set up and decorate our Christmas tree. My sister-in-law not only taught her to sing 'Petit Papa Nöel' a week before xmas (she has been singing this song non stop since then:-p ), she also talked to her about Papa Nöel (Santa Claus) and how she has to be a good little girl or else Papa Nöel won't bring lots of gifts for her. Mémé (grandmother), bless her sweet heart, bought a Santa suit and got someone to give Little One a surprise visit on the eve of xmas.:-) Little One took a look at Santa and ran hide behind mémé's legs and refused to look at Santa no matter how much coaxing from him or mémé. It was only when he took out a present from his bulging santa sack that Little One started to warm up to him and even gave him a kiss on his cheeks for the present. After Santa left, she couldn't stop talking about Santa.:-)

No festive holiday is complete without cookies, especially when Santa is expecting some, so here's the cookies that I did bake for this occasion.

I'm contributing this recipe to "Cookie Baking Event" hosted by Sharmi of Neivedyam.

Coconut Chocolate Nut Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ;
  • 112 g white or brown sugar
  • 150 g butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp pandan essence
  • 1 cup self raising flour (sifted)
  • ½ cup dried grated coconut
  • some dark chocolates tablets (chopped)
  • some chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  2. In a big mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, sugar, butter and pandan essence together until it is light and creamy.
  3. With a spoon (metal or wooden), fold in the flour, dark chocolates and chopped nuts into the creamy mixture until combined.
  4. Using 2 teaspoon, scoop a very small portion of dough and drop the ball onto the baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure to space them out as they will spread during baking.
  5. Bake them for 13 - 14 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Cool the cookies on tray for a minute or two before transferring them on the wire rack.
Coconut Chocolate Nut Cookies
The Verdict

It turned out pretty good - very aromatic and crunchy but a wee bit too sweet to our taste.:-) - I love the combination of the coconut and pandan flavour with those bits of dark chocolates and nuts.

Notes

For those who like their cookies just nice and not too sweet, please reduce the sugar quantity from the recipe.

Coconut Chocolate Nut Cookies
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Bland Mocha Muffins

We got back from Singapore more than a week ago. Autumn in Clermont Ferrand is a mix of cold and sunny weathers - a few gloomy looking days and some sunny afternoons. I love it when it is sunny and cold at the same time. Love the feel of the sun on my cold face. I hope for more sunny afternoons. Doubt that will happen since winter is just around the corner.:-(

The months of September and October see the arrival of a few newborns of my friends and a fellow blogger. A bitter sweet event for me. I'm very happy for my friends who are enjoying and holding their baby right now. But no matter how happy I was for them, I can't help wishing I was holding my very own baby who would have been born now if I haven't lost it early this year.

How was my holidays in Singapore? Unfortunately it was a nightmare from the start. To think I was so looking forward to going back home but instead I was faced with lots of personnal problems through out my 1 1/2 month stay there. It killed any mood for cooking nor baking nor going or eating out. It was an experience that I wouldn't even want to wish it on my enemy. It is still far from over but I'll try to get some sort of a normal life back. Has it turn me off going back home? In a way yes. I don't want to revisit those moments of my stay there.

On the home front, the renovation in our house is still not completed. However the good news is that the bathroom downstairs is finally done.:-) Today the guy came back to install the kitchen door - not exactly what I expect. I was looking forward to a door with glass inserts but I guess I didn't communicate what I wanted correctly. Next time I know better. The other thing is that I wanted a simple glass looking through the corridor from the kitchen, instead I got a real window (with double glass). Whatever do I need that for in a kitchen?

In hope of lifting up my spirit, I forced myself to bake something as in the past, baking always perks up my spirit ... so I decided to do a Mocha Muffin but I guess when your heart is not in it, even your cakes will not turn out right.

I found this recipe online and thought these muffins sounded great as it was described by the author as moist and delicious etc. Ok I have to admit that I replaced some of the ingredients as I didn't have them in my pantry but I didn't think it would have changed much of the flavour or anything. It did smelled heavenly of mocha chocolate in the oven. I excitedly gave one to my house 'guinea pig', looking at him for a hopeful proclamation: "Where's the flavor ?" were the first words that came out of his mouth after the first bite. The muffins are moist but badly lack of flavour - one can hardly taste the chocolates or coffee in it. Oh well, guess I will try something else next time.

Mocha muffins
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Chocolate-Nut Cookies

What a summer we had this year!:-D

Lucky for us, it wasn't too hot in Clermont-Ferrand but down South of France like Oraison or Montpellier where we spent 2 weeks, we felt like we were being baked. We could only go out in the morning from 8 am to 10.30 am. After that, the temperature started going up to 31°C or 33°C. By noon, all of us were already withering from the heat. We were so glad to head back to the house for a siesta before going out again at 4.30 pm. Even at 4.30 pm, the heat was quite unbearable. We went for lots of walks around the town, nearby villages, to the lakes and the seaside. By the way, the drive from Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier is extremely scenic (I wish I had my video cam) and best of all, the highway is 'FREE' (very rare in France).

Since Monday, we are busy preparing everything for our kitchen to be redone, before we leave for Singapore tomorrow. Yep, we are leaving tomorrow and our luggages aren't even packed yet. Up till this morning, we were still out shopping for our kitchen table top. Talk about stress. Do we really need to do this to ourselves before we leave tomorrow? No, but what choice do we have - the guy who is going to redo our kitchen suddenly called us up 2 weeks ago saying that he can do our kitchen in mid September. We were overjoyed of course given the fact that in France, everything moves so slow especially in the renovation business - the craftsman are hard to get. If we missed this chance, we might have to wait for another 6 months before he could fix our kitchen. Everything is done in such a mad rush. I also learned from my significant other that we had to assemble the kitchen cabinet for the guy to put it in place etc, and that we also have to dismantle our present cabinet ourselves. There I was thinking that the quote the guy gave us included everything like it does in Singapore. Well, guess that's another culture shock for me. Pierre said 'Sure, everything can be done, one just need to pay for it and the price is an exorbitant one !:-( In France, manual labour is very expensive, that is why everyone tries to renovate their house themselves or with the help of connections and relatives.

I have to thank my parents-in-law for helping us and guiding us in buying all the necessary stuff and my sister-in-law for house sitting for us. THANK YOU!

Before departing for Singapore, I would like to leave you a great cookie recipe that is simple and easy to make. It doesn't take very long to whip it up and bake as well.

Chocolate-Nut Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 38 g or 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 74 g or 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 150 g butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 188 g or 1 1/2 cup self raising flour (sifted)
  • 100 g dark and white chocolates tablets (chopped)
  • some chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  2. In a big mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, white & brown sugar, butter and vanilla essence together until it is light and creamy.
  3. With a spoon (metal or wooden), fold in the flour, dark & white chocolates and chopped nuts into the creamy mixture until combined/
  4. Take a spoonful of the dough and roll it into a ball in your hands.
  5. Arrange the balls on the baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure to space them out as they will spread during baking.
  6. Bake them for 15 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Cool the cookies on tray for a minute or two before transferring them on the wire rack.
Chocolate Nut CookiesChocolate Nut CookiesChocolate Nut Cookies
The Verdict

Surprisingly delicious and aromatic - it has a full nutty flavour, buttery taste, with delicious bites of mixed chocolates and not forgetting the presence of vanilla flavour as well - wow! Pierre and Little One couldn't stop eating them. In fact, they are fighting over who gets the biggest first. My friends said it is as good as Famous Amos cookies and that I should bake more and sell them from home.:-D

Before this, I never quite succeeded in making chocolate chip cookies but this time around, they came out beautifully and delicious. I'm so happy.

Notes

The baking time depends on how hot is your oven. For mine, I discovered that my oven browns them pretty fast and I only baked them for 12 to 13 minutes. The more batches I made, the hotter my oven turns so either I lower my oven temperature or shorten the baking time.

As for the combination, leave it all dark or white chocolates if you like. Try different nuts or add raisins.

Chocolate Nut CookiesChocolate Nut Cookies
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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Happy Birthday Little One !

Today we celebrated Little One's special day ... her big '2' ... my little baby is now a big girl. Hehehe ... she is still a little bit too young to understand what is a birthday all about but I think she is getting the idea more or less : delicious cake, blow-out candles and tearing those beautiful wrappers with surprises inside.;-)

Her grand-mère dressed our little princess in her beautiful little red dress bought by her ma ma (maternal grandma) with cute little pigtails while we were busy putting up the decorations and getting everything ready before her grand entrance. However she caught us in the act.:-p She was more attracted to the balloons on the ceiling than all the deco that we have put up for her like rose petals (compliments from our garden) sprinkled all over the table and the colourful garlands hanging from the wall to the ceiling. Then she saw those lovely petals and climbed on top of the table and started dancing.:-D Looks like a star is born.;-) This year she is quite spoiled on her birthday: a swing, a sandbox, 4 DVDs (all her favourite characters), a set of kitchen utensils (toy version of course), a set of mini cars (she loves cars like her dad), aquadoodle, a dress, a CD player and a Lego set. Oh... she went to visit her great great aunt this afternoon and they celebrated her birthday there again... she gets to eat more cakes and got another present. Shh... more presents are on the way from Singapore - she doesn't know that yet.;-)

Originally I wanted to make a chocolate Teddy bear cake for her on her birthday but I had to scrap that plan as I have never done anything like this before and it was not the right the time to do an experiment.:-p In the end, I made a simple chocolate cake and decorated it the best I can.

The chocolate cake recipe that I'm sharing with you today is one that I found on the Internet a few years back and it has since been a favourite in our family.:-) For this special day, I made this cake with chocolate icing.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing
Ingredients
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ salt
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder (non sweetened)
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 113g butter (melted)
  • ¾ cup flour

Chocolate Icing

  • 1½ cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp butter (softened)
  • 2 or 3 squares dark chocolate (made for dessert)
  • ¼ cup hot water
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven at 175°C (350°C - gas mark 4) and butter a round 20 cm diameter cake pan.
  2. In a big bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add in the cocoa slowly.
  5. Then the milk and the cooled down melted butter.
  6. Stir in the flour.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake in the oven for about 40 - 45 minutes. When inserted into the cake, the toothpick should not come out completely clean. The cake is supposed to be a bit moist.
  8. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes before turning it out on the wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Pour or spread the cooled chocolate icing on the cake and decorate it as the way you wanted it. Refrigerate it for a while so that the icing gets set nicely.

Chocolate Icing

  1. Sift the icing sugar, cocoa powder and the dark chocolate pieces into a bowl.
  2. Add butter and hot water and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. If the chocolate pieces do not melt, microwave them for a few seconds.
  4. Let it cool to the consistency you want and then spread it on the cake.
chocolate cake with chocolate icingchocolate cake with chocolate icing
Conclusion

No matter how many times I bake this chocolate cake, it always comes out perfect and delicious. However this is the first time I decided to put icing on it. Initially I thought a chocolate icing with a moist chocolate cake would be a bit too much... mais non... it's luscious - rich, moist and filling. And it wasn't too sweet either.:-) Little One couldn't wait and was already helping herself with a teaspoon on the cake before we could even take a pic of the cake or even put the candle. While we were cutting the cake, she was busy scooping and eating the chocolate icing on the side. She loves it so much that she was tucking in her cake and at the same time scooping the icing off the cake.:-D Everyone loved it.

Notes

Cake : If you bake it on a 9" round cake pan, bake it at the same temperature but the cake will be done about 30 to 35 minutes. The cake is delicious on its own without icing. Alternatively you can serve the plain chocolate cake with crème anglaise (light custard sauce) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream or sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

Chocolate Icing : The original icing recipe was a bit too liquid to my taste so I added a few dark chocolate tablets to get a thicker consistency. I have modified the above recipe accordingly. I have also used less icing sugar than what was stated above. I poured the icing on the cake when it had thickened to be just fluid enough.

chocolate cake with chocolate icingchocolate cake with chocolate icing
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