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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
9 comments on this post.

Orange-Coconut Cake

Little One has made an amazing progress in her vocabulary during these past few weeks. She still can't make out a phrase but she just learnt how to say her name the other day at the park (well, not exactly accurate but her name is kinda difficult for her to pronounce at her age). She can understand both languages - in French and English. I'm still working on Chinese as I seldom speak to her in Mandarin, however I take the occasion to compensate that by reading Chinese story books to her. Hope that works too.;-)

She has also learned to shout A table (literal translation 'at the table' meaning 'dinner is served') whenever a meal is ready. And when papa is still not there yet, she would shout 'papa, à table!' 'papa, à table' till papa sit at his place. hehehe She surprised us a month or two ago when she can associate which object around the house belongs to who - e.g. muffins- papa's, tool box - pépé (grandfather), which laptops belongs to who etc. She also has been playing tea party with her toys and feeding her teddies. Sometimes she would make a cup of tea (imaginary of course;-) ) and serve it to each of us. Too cute for words. She also loves reading her books (well, mainly look at the pictures) and for bedtime, she will chose which books she wants us to read to her.

Oh ... she has a new favourite word besides gateau (cakes): 'cartoon'. Now that the weather is warm enough to set up her baby pool in the backyard, she keeps asking for piscine (swimming pool) even at night.:-D Unfortunately she caught a chill. Thought it was just a normal runny nose and a slight fever which lasted for 4 days. Poor kiddo, her runny nose has caused her a right ear infection.:-( With the medication, she is getting better however it is a real hide and seek when it's time for medicine - she would quickly either hide under the table or chair or behind the curtains and sometimes in the closet. Well, it is not always like this, sometimes she takes her medication bravely without resisting for she knows it to get rid of the 'little mouse' in her right ear.

Now back to food. It has been a while since I last baked something so I decided to try out this recipe that I have found in my cooking book but I did some modifications and tried two different methods of making it.

Orange-Coconut Cake
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g butter (softened)
  • 50 g dried schredded coconut
  • 250 g sugar
  • 180 g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp orange peel (grated)
  • 250 ml milk

Coconut Icing

  • 60 ml or more orange juice
  • ½ tsp orange peel (grated)
  • 90 g dried schredded coconut
  • 140 g icing sugar
Orange Coconut Cake Ingredients
Directions

Preheat your oven at 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) and prepare a greased round 20 cm diameter (approx) cake tin.

Method 1

  1. Separate the egg white and egg yolk.
  2. Beat the egg yolk, softened butter and sugar together in a big bowl till it is creamy and fluffy.
  3. Stir in the grated orange peel and the shredded coconut and then add in the flour.
  4. Pour in the milk and stir till combined.
  5. Beat the egg white until stiff peaks formed. Fold it into the mixture till combined.
  6. Bake it for about 60 minutes until the wooden stick comes out clean.
  7. Leave it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out on the wire rack.
  8. Once the cake is of room temperature, spread the coconut icing on the cake.
Orange Coconut Cake

Method 2

  1. Beat the eggs, butter and sugar in a big bowl till creamy and fluffy.
  2. Add in the orange peel and grated coconut.
  3. Stir in the flour and milk alternatively until combined.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes until the wooden stick comes out clean.
  5. Follow step 7 & 8 in Method 1.
Orange Coconut Cake

Coconut Icing

  1. Mix the icing sugar and the grated coconut together in a bowl.
  2. Add the grated orange peel and stir in the juice. (Add more juice if needed.)
  3. Mix it to get a consistency but smooth enough to be able to spread it.
The Verdict

Method 1:

I find it to be light, moist and fluffy. The aroma of the orange, butter and coconut icing is a delicious combination. I was initially worried that the whole cake might turn out to be too sweet because of the icing but it tastes just nice - not overly sweet. I simply love it so did the rest of the family members.

Method 2:

The cake turned out to be light but dense and we can taste the bits of shredded coconut in the cake. It is equally delicious. Everyone likes both versions, however for me, I prefer the light and fluffy version above.

Notes

For method 1 : I would reduced the milk quantity a little bit.

To make your own self rising flour - for every 125 g of plain flour, add 2 tsp baking powder. Then sift the flour several times.

Orange Coconut Cake with IcingOrange Coconut Cake
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Coconut-Choc Scrolls

The weather has been acting weird for the past few days. We had weeks of very sunny spring weather and flowers were blooming everywhere, including the fruit trees in our backyard (we don't know what kind of fruit trees we have in our garden so that will be a surprise.:-) ) Then suddenly end of last week, it started to rain for 2 days... and turned into snow.... gasp! Within half an hour, our garden was all covered with snow. The scenery was actually very pretty. Little One (LO) saw snow for her first time, and when the snow flakes hit her face and little hands, her expression was truly priceless:-D ... It was like 'hey...what was that?' with a serious frown on her little face. We went on the balcony and let her play with snow. Since she never had snow fight before, I decided to gather a little snow ball and threw it at her ... hahaha ... she was like 'Mommy, why did you do that?' Sister-in-law joined in the fun and soon LO got the idea, however instead of her throwing her tiny snow ball at us, she threw it off the balcony. hahaha Apparently she enjoyed watching it falling down and making a splatter on the floor. Too soon, it stopped snowing and the sun came shinning and melt all the snow.:-(

To chase away this cold weary weather, baking is the way to go : filling up the house with cookie aroma - mmm... yummy:-) ... this recipe is (heavily) inspired by my previous Choc-Hazelnut Scrolls.

Coconut-Choc Scrolls
Ingredients
  • 234 g or 2 cups plain flour
  • 50 g or ½ cup dry grated coconut
  • 100 g butter (cubed)
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2 tbsp iced water
  • chocolate hazelnut spread
  • some extra dry grated coconut
Directions
  1. Very lightly brown the 50 g grated coconut in a pan.
  2. Place the grated coconut and flour in food processor bowl; add butter and sugar. Using the pulse action, press button for 30 seconds or until mixture is fine and crumbly.
  3. Add egg and 2 tbsp water; process a further 20 seconds until mixture forms a dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 30 seconds or until smooth.
  5. Roll pastry out on a large sheet of baking paper, to a rectangle. Trim any uneven edges.
  6. Spread dough evenly with hazelnut spread.
  7. Sprinkle dry grated coconut all over the hazelnut spread.
  8. Using paper to lift dough, roll up from the long side in Swiss roll style. Wrap tightly in paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Using a very sharp knife, cut dough into 1 cm slices. Place it on biscuit trays with baking paper.
  10. Bake at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Coconut-Choc ScrollsCoconut-Choc Scrolls
The Verdict

My sister-in-law took the first bite and exclaimed 'This is really good. Can I have the recipe please. Super yummy.' I was really taken by surprise and went : 'Really?' :O ... Pierre took one and didn't say anything ... he just chomped down another one, yet another. Little One was happily devouring hers. So I sank my teeth for my first bite... it is really good. Crunchy but not overly crunchy - a bit like shortbread. The coconut aroma just swamped my senses. I have to say the nutella or any chocolate spread goes very well with coconut.

Coconut-Choc Scrolls
21 comments on this post.

Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert

This is one of my favourite childhood desserts. In the old days whenever my mom wanted to make this, she would ask us to help her dig out the cassava roots. This was always such a fun field trip even though it is just behind our 'kampong' (village) house. Which child wouldn't want to play with dirt and digging up earth, pulling out the plant roots, chopping up the plant and replanting them after that? I remember that I kept asking my mom frequently about when could we dig up the roots again after replanting it.:-) Then my mom would send us to hunt for a coconut (there used to be lots of coconut trees in front of our kampong house) and start shredding the coconut flesh using the old fashion method (ie. sitting on a long wooden bench with a metal spike at the end). It was such a fun and learning activity that I wish I could do it nowadays with my Little One.

Cassava or tapioca plant or yuca (most people associate it with tapioca flour) is a tall plant that can reach up to 15 feet sometimes. They survive not only very well in dry season (with high humidity) but also in poor soil conditions. Cassava can be easily propagated by cutting the stems into sections and just planting them into the soil before the wet season. Their leaves can be eaten cooked however they are very toxic raw. My mom used to cook these leaves in spicy coconut milk base. As for their tuberous roots, we usually boil them and eat them as they are (without any seasoning) or make them into desserts.

This is my entry for this Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Lia from Swirling Notions.

Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cassava root (peeled)
  • ½ fresh coconut (shredded)
  • sugar
  • salt
Directions
  1. Cut the peeled cassava or tapioca roots into medium-sized pieces and put them into a non-stick pan or wok filled with some water.
  2. Boil them covered until they are cooked. Make sure that the water cooking the cassava do not dry out before they are cooked or else they will be burnt. Fill in a bit of water if needed.
  3. Cut them into small triangles or cubes and put them aside in a bowl or salad bowl.
  4. Add the shredded coconut, some sugar and salt to the cassava pieces and mix them till combined. Taste to see if the seasoning is to your liking and adjust it accordingly.
  5. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Conclusions

I do not know how to really describe this taste but I'll do my best! The combination of flavours is balanced and one doesn't overwhelm the other. With each bite, you have the natural fragrance and taste of cassava and at the same time, fragrant sweet & salty taste of fresh shredded coconut blend together.

Notes

This dessert is best eaten on the day that it is made.

Coconut Cassava (Tapioca) Dessert
30 comments on this post.

Coconut Chocolate Tart

This is a week of strikes - tonight the train is on strike and tomorrow it's the EDF (Electricity) and Paris public transport. Talking about strike, some students of Nantes University are on their 2nd week of strike as well to protest against an education reform. How can students be on strike? That's something that puzzles most foreigners who arrive here, me included. You don't need to go as far as Japan to get "Lost In Translation".

All these strikes bring me to another topic: coconut is my least favourite fruit! (OK, so there's actually no connection whatsoever, but bear with me). I don't like coconut cookies, ice cream or cakes but I love coconut gravies, like curry. Strange isn't it?:-) So why did I make a coconut tart then? Well, one day the cafeteria ran out of sandwiches and all they had were tarts: lemon, chocolate and coconut. I don't like anything that is sourish nor too chocolaty so that left me the coconut tart - no other choice - needed to feed my growling stomach. I was very surprised at how delicious it was. Since then I have been itching to make a coconut tart like the one I have tasted.

Coconut Tart
Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 250 g plain flour (shifted)
  • 50 g fine sugar
  • 150 g salted butter (cubed)
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

Tart

  • 1 egg
  • 80 g sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 100 ml liquid cream
  • 80 g grated coconut
Directions

Prepare Pie Crust

  1. In a big bowl, mix the shifted flour and sugar, then add in the butter. Rub the butter and flour mixture with your finger tips until you get a sand like texture. Make a small well, add in 3 tbsp iced cold water. Mix it together to get a dough. Put the dough in a plastic film and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
  2. Roll out the dough on a baking paper or cloth (flour the cloth first), this will make it easier to flip the rolled out dough onto the pie dish.
  3. Fork the base and bake it at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for about 15 minutes.
Coconut Chocolate Tart

Prepare the coconut fillings

  1. Beat the egg and sugar in a big bowl.
  2. Mix the liquid cream and coconut milk in a pan and bring it to a boil.
  3. Mix this mixture with the beaten egg/sugar.
  4. Add in the grated coconut.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the baked pie crust.
  6. Bake it at 170°C (325°C - gas mark 3) for about 25 minutes.
  7. Cool it before refrigerating it for a few hours. Serve cold.
The Verdict

I was actually expecting a semi-dry filling, but got surprised to get it moist and creamy, almost like a custard. It's delicious though - I ended up covering the tart with a layer of melted chocolate (one side with black chocolate, the other side with milk-chocolate). The combination of coconut and chocolate was really nice - and reminescent of the Bounty chocolate bar.

Coconut Chocolate TartCoconut Chocolate TartCoconut Chocolate Tart
11 comments on this post.

Coconut Squares

Of late, our household has been on a "strict" diet (except little ninja) in our effort to shed that few centimeters off our waistline, which is why I haven't been baking much sweet stuff. But when 5 o'clock rings, our mouth really start to crave for something sweet to go with that cup of tea. It doesn't help either that our friends dropped by with delicious pastries. Resist as I might, I caved in to temptation yesterday, browsing excitedly through my pastry books, salivating at each and every cake and cookie (oh gosh, there are so many delicious cakes to make *swooning with pleasure at the photos*). And these little coconut cakes caught my attention - nice beautiful squares looking so inviting and tempting... and coconut plus strawberry? That sounded like an interesting combo.

Coconut Squares

(taken from Le Grand Livre des Desserts)

Preparation: 40 minutes
Baking: 45 minutes
Makes: 20

Ingredients
  • 120 g plain flour
  • 60 g self-rising flour
  • 150 g butter (cubed)
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150 g strawberry jam

Toppings

  • 3 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 270 g grated coconut
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 180°C
  2. Lightly greased the sides of a 22 cm square baking dish and lay baking paper with sides overhanging a little out of the opposite sides of the tray (to enable lifting the biscuits out of the tray easily).
  3. Put the flour, icing sugar and butter in the processor. Using the pulse action, press button for 30 seconds or until mixture is fine and crumbly. Add the egg yolk, process a further 20 seconds until mixture forms a dough.
  4. Roll the dough out onto the baking dish and refrigerate it for 10 minutes.
  5. Bake it for 15 minutes till it is slightly golden.
  6. Let the dough cool down before spreading the strawberry jam on it.

Toppings

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until it is light and creamy.
  2. Stir in the grated coconut.
  3. Spread this coconut mixture on top of the jam and lightly press on it with the back of the spoon.
  4. Bake it for 25 to 30 minutes: the cake should be lightly golden.
  5. Let it cool down completely before lifting the cake out and cutting it into squares
  6. These squares can be stored up to 4 days in an airtight container.
Coconut squares ingredientsCoconut squares
The Verdict

It turned out very delicious: yummy sweet tasting coconut flavour! However the strawberry jam is probably too thin and remains rather quiet (we do taste it a bit, but the coconut flavour is more pronounced). Perhaps it's because the home made jam I used is thin and runny. I'm usually not a big fan of coconut but this one is really good:-D

These coconut squares are more like a pastry than a cookie or biscuits. It's soft and moist - prefect as little cakes (as the book calls it 'les petits gateaux') for tea or coffee time - just what I was looking for;-).

Notes

I found the dough to be a bit too soft and sticky to roll out onto the baking dish. If I bake it again, I will let the dough sit in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or more to firm up before rolling it out on the tray.

I baked my dough at 220°C for 10 minutes instead of following the book.

Coconut squares
26 comments on this post.

Beef Rendang

Many years ago a friend of mine highly recommended me this cook book by Mrs Lee Chin Koon (the mother of Singapore's Prime Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew). She found the instructions to be very easy to follow and had already tried out a few of the recipes with delicious results. While I was tempted to go straight to the nearest book store to pick it up, I realized that it would end up sitting on the shelf like a white elephant for years: my mom reigns over the kitchen and is a great cook...

Funnily enough, I came upon this book by chance while on vacation in Singapore recently and immediately bought it without hesitation. Out of the many delicious recipes to try out, I opted for a beef rendang: it's really one of my favourite dishes!

For those unfamiliar with this fine delicacy, Beef Rendang is very popular in Malaysia and Singapore - traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions. The recipe originates from Padang in West Sumatra, hence the name Nasi Padang which is sometimes used as well.

Beef Rendang

(taken from The New Mrs. Lee's Cookbook: Nonya Cuisine)

Ingredients
  • 1 onion
  • 600 g beef shin
  • 500 g grated coconut
  • 1 rounded tbsp tamarind (asam) pulp
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Paste

  • 4 slices galangal
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 15 dried chillies or 2 tbsp pounded red chillies
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
Beef rendang ingredients
Directions

Paste

  1. Soak the dried chillies for the paste in hot water. Deseed them and roughly chop the soaked dried chilies (use a lot less if you are not used to spiciness).
  2. Peel and roughly slice the galangal, ginger and garlic.
  3. Pound/blend them together with the coriander powder and cumin. Add the peeled and bruised lemon grass last (use the white portion only).

Cooking the rendang

  1. Slice the beef into big or small pieces depending on your preference.
  2. Peel and slice the onion. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the coconut milk using 570 ml water.
  4. Prepare the tamarind marinade: soak the tamarind pulp in 120 ml of warm water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the seeds and fiber with your fingers to extract as much juice and flavor as possible. Strain and discard fibers.
  5. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to boil then simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced by half. Cover and simmer for 30 mins until the meat is tender.
The Verdict

The sauce was awesome and tasted as good as I was hoping, but I can't say the same for the beef: it was unfortunately very tough. It seems that I don't have much luck in cooking beef: every time I cook some, the meat never turns out tender. When we are having steak, it's Pierre who cooks it but I so wanted to eat beef rendang.:-( Michèle loved this dish even though my beef was tough. She suggested that I use the normal beef next time as the beef shin takes a long long time to cook for it to be tender. Most likely I didn't cook the meat long enough (that's Michèle's opinion too). If the meat is cooked correctly, it should falls apart and melt in your mouth.

Notes

I can't get any freshly grated coconut here so I replace it with 750 ml of can coconut milk.

beef rendang
32 comments on this post.