Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I tried another cupcake recipe on a Saturday, as I wasn't entirely satisfied with the previous cupcake that I tried – it turned dry and dense within a day. I needed something that could keep soft and fluffy for at least a day when I bring the cakes to Malaysia.

This recipe is from Betty Saw's book and is posted on the net by various bloggers. I'm glad that the texture remained soft and fluffy even after a day! Also, I think the taste is good – full of lemony and creamy goodness. However, the sides and bottoms browned too fast – looks burnt, but doesn't taste burnt (phew!). Think that's because my mini muffin tin was the non-stick, black version. Think I will bake at a reduced temperature of 160 deg C to overcome this. Also, will fill the muffin tins abt ½ to 2/3, so that the cupcakes will not raise over the paper cases and become too brown….

On another occasion, I varied with orange, but I think lemon is the best!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2008 Chinese New Year Kitchen – Sugee Cookies Part II

Last weekend, I tried another version of Sugee Cookies. During the week, I was inspired to adapt the Peanut Cookie recipe: omit the peanuts and maybe add almonds and/or semolina. I searched the internet to check whether other adjustments were required. Lo and behold, I saw a recipe on the net (oops, forgot to check that website!) that posted a Sugee Cookie recipe that was close to the Peanut Cookie recipe. So, it can be done….hmmm….

For this batch of Sugee Cookies, I used sunflower oil, added salt and omitted the peanuts. Hubby and myself didn't like the taste when the cookies fresh from the oven. However, after letting them rest for a day or two, the taste was much better. Hubby liked them so much that he ate at least 10 at a go! Well, I still have my reservations, but I will do a batch specially for my Hubby for cny….

Perhaps, I will try using a mixture of corn oil and butter the next time. Somehow, I feel that sunflower oil isn't suitable….Maybe that's a personal preference.

2008 Chinese New Year Kitchen - Soft and Fluffy Mini Cupcakes

Recipe was taken from Cuen who posted in Imperial Kitchen. I used the one posted by Hugbear, who adapted it and posted it onto her website. The cupcakes were baked in a mini cupcake pan. These were light, soft, fluffy and not too sweet. As such, they are suitable for those who do not have a sweet tooth and those who like their cupcakes light and fluffy. I think I will bake this for hubby's grandparents, as this is soft and fluffy and not-too-sweet.

Calla's notes on the recipe

  • I added cocoa to get the chocolate flavour i liked: added 4 tsp cocoa, sifted into and fold into approximately 1/3 batter (i halved the recipe). Although the chocolate ones were still fluffy, not as fluffy as the vanilla ones. Vanilla one has better texture. But this could be because i didn't reduce flour when i added the cocoa.
  • I reduced the sugar further. I personally don't mind it a teeny weeny bit sweeter, but it could be alright for those who do not have a sweet tooth.
  • First batch baked at approximately 150 – 160 deg (based on oven thermometer), for 20 min; trays rotated mid-way and top heating element switched on. Think i baked too long, sides were crusty, but tops had no cracks.
  • Second batch baked at approximately 170 deg (based on oven thermometer), for 15 min; trays rotated mid-way. Top heating element switched on only for the last 2 – 3 min, as the temp was too hot and the tops had cracked. I forgot to switch off the heating element when i placed in the second batch.
  • Prefer the texture of the second batch. Will test to bake at 160 deg for 15 min, to achieve not-so-crusty sides, more fluffy texture and no-cracks top.
  • Also don't fill the muffin trays to the brim. Batter spills over and becomes crusty. Fill to about 2/3 full. Cupcakes will rise.

Update: as in any cupcakes, these will turn dense after a day or two. Best eaten when fresh from the oven…

2008 Chinese New Year Test Kitchen – Melting Moments

Over the weekend, I baked melting moments. Recipe was taken from the Kitchen Capers Forum which was posted by Connie (Thanks, Connie!). The dough was really soft, so when i pressed the fork into the dough as a form of deco, I couldn't lift the fork from the dough! As a result, the resulting cookie looked like sea-shell(??), rather than round, although i rolled into balls....Haha....

I found the cookie very light and buttery, while Hubby found it too powdery. I think Mum will like it as it's buttery. Well, I guess I will not do this for cny unless Mum requests for it.

Calla's notes on the recipe:

  • as the dough was soft, i chilled the dough prior to rolling into balls. Chill again prior to flattening it with a fork.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 Chinese New Year Test Kitchen – Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

My MIL requested for a tart cheesecake for the coming cny. I thought that since I needed to finish the cranberry sauce, I decided to use it in the cheesecake for her. I used the cranberry swirl cheesecake recipe in the Epicurious website. I made a few modifications since I didn't make the cranberry sauce myself, but used the one from Crabtree & Evelyn. The cranberry sauce with orange by Crabtree & Evelyn was delicious on its own. It's packed with fruit.

Back to the cheesecake.... I'm extremly pleased with the results - there were no cracks, cake was firm, yet texture was smooth. My hubby terms it as "swishingly soft". However, I can't find the cranberries nor a distinct cranberry flavour, after dumping in at least 2/3 of the 16oz bottle into the batter! Very light swirls and virtually all cranberry sauce sank to the bottom.... I think I will add the entire 16oz bottle into a small bit of batter in my next bake....

In any case, I think I will be using this recipe as my base for all cheesecakes.... You should try it, it's really a yummy cheesecake, despite the negligible cranberry flavour.

Calla's notes on the recipes:
  • I used oreo cookies for the crust, which is a good combination.
  • I used 3 250g-packets of cream cheese.
  • As I used a commercially-made sauce, I reduced the sugar to 170g.
  • I used a 200g-packet of sour cream, with no apparent adverse results.
  • I used 60g of whipping cream.
  • I added zest of 1 orange - cranberry & orange go well together!
  • I originally wanted to swirl the sauce into the cheesecake. However I noted that the sauce sank to the bottom! In a bid to save, I added the sauce to some of the cheesecake batter. But I think I added too little sauce and the marbling was not apparent. To experiment on the proportions again....
  • I baked in a water bath at 160 deg C. But from my oven thermometer, I noted that it hardly climbed above 100 deg C. As such, I thought I better baked it longer. In all, I baked it about 2 hours, instead of the stipulated 1h 15min.
I made some observations while preparing the cheesecake:
  • I first beat the cream cheese at medium speed till it flicks off easily from the spatula/beater. Scraping down the sides and from the bottom is important, as there are bits of unprocessed cream cheese stuck at the sides and bottom.
  • I then add in the sugar and beat it at medium speed till drops easily from the spatula/beater.
  • After that, I beat in, by hand, the sour cream, whipping cream, orange zest and vanilla essence. I also tried to eliminate, as much as possible, any lumps in the sour cream and whipping cream.
  • The eggs went in next, one by one, incorporating into the batter (again by hand) before adding the next one.
  • I also cleaned my spatula and sides of the mixing bowl, esp after adding the sugar, regularly to get rid of unprocessed cream cheese

2008 Chinese New Year Test Kitchen – Sugee Cookies

The second cookie to make its appearance was Sugee Cookies. The recipe was posted by Gina in the Kitchen Capers Forum (thanks, Gina!). I baked them in 2 batches... The first one turned out too crunchy, while the second one was...well....a little chewy. I was kind of hoping for the melt-in-your-mouth texture again. But I think the cookies were too sweet for my liking - will reduce the sugar the next time i bake.

Calla's notes:
  • To try reducing the sugar as I felt that the cookies were too sweet.
  • The mixture also spread quite a bit during baking - to leave ample space between balls. Perhaps, I should leave the dough in the fridge for a while, prior to shaping them.

Searching for alternatives...

I will be slow in posting pictures as I am looking for an alternative source of posting pictures. Please be patient... I will update my posts with the pictures later.