Monday, December 26, 2011

Durian X'mas Log Cake & Cream Puffs

Too tired to think and to write ..I shall let the photos to do the talking now ...good nite!
After-note (Dec 27):  Despite the short handed situation at home (maid went home), I decided to bake a log cake for the X'mas Party held at my mum's place.  Since the durian has been very affordable lately, I decided to bake a durian log cake.  I follow the same filling recipe as Durian Layer Cream Cake with a basic vanilla sponge roll. 

All and all, I baked two log cakes, I brought one to my mum's place, for the other one, my daughter brought it to her friend's party.  Since there was still durian filling left over, I decided to make them into durian puffs and I'm glad that everyone enjoyed this yummy durian dessert :) 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate Cheese X'mas Log Cake

I always want to bake Christmas goodies for friends and colleagues but I think I have to give it a miss this year as currently, I don't have a domestic helper at home.  My maid has gone home and will only be returning after new year.  Without a helper, it's a challenge for me to juggle office work, cooking and house chores together, not even need to mention about the spare time for baking!

This is probably the first and last log cake I baked for this Christmas.  I like baking but not the washing part,  especially chocolate cake, there are so many stuffs to wash after that.  Sigh!  Frankly speaking, the driver factor for this baking is not because of the Christmas season, it's the expiring the cream cheese and whipping cream that I've to get rid.  How sad!

I posted some of the baking photos on facebook and a couple of my old colleagues asked whether I am selling. Baking is just my hobby, it hasn't crossed my mind to get into business.  I will bake when I've the spare time and feel like doing, I don't like the feeling of obligation and therefore, I'm definitely not prepared to get into serious business. 

Given that the Christmas is round at the corner, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas in advance.  Since this may be the one and only one Christmas bake for me this year, I think I should join the crowd and submit this entry to Aspiring Bakers #14: Creative Christmas Bakes (December 2011) hosted by Hankerie.

Chocolate Cheese X'mas Log Cake Recipe
Chocolate Cheese Filling:
- 20g egg yolk
- 13g water
- 25g sugar
- 175g Philadephia cream cheese
- 1/2 tbsp gelatin
- 1.5 tbsp water
- 10g whipping cream
- 30g dark couverturechocolate (can increase to 50g)
- 125g whipped cream
- 10g coffee liqueur (Kahlua)

1.  Beat egg yolk till fluffy.  Set aside.
2.  Bring water to boil, stir in sugar till dissolved.
3.  Pour hot syrup (step 2) into egg mixture (step 1) and beat till cool.  Set aside.
4.  Beat cream cheese till smooth and add into egg mixture in step 3.  
5.  Premix gelatine and water together, double boil till gelatine dissolved and add into cheese mixture in step 4.  Set aside.
6.  Bring whipping cream to boil, off fire, add dark chocolate in, let it to melt and cool down.  And then add into cheese mixture in step 5.  
7.  Beat whipping cream till 70% stiff, add into step 6 together with coffee liqueur.  Mix till combined and chill in fridge for use later.

Chocolate Sponge Cake 
- 100g egg yolk  (about 5 pcs)
- 30g caster sugar   
- 25g milk    } microwave for 25 sec 
- 30g oil        }   
- 56g cake flour        } sift together
- 25g cocoa powder   } 
- 150g egg white (abt 4.5 pcs)
- 75g caster sugar

- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and greased it again. Preheat oven to 175*C.

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar for 4-5 mins or till ribbon stage.  
2. Microwave oil and milk for 25 sec and then pour into egg yolk mixture in step 1.   Mix till combined.
3. Sift flour and cocoa powder together, add into step 2 and stir till combined.  Set aside.
4. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg white and add sugar gradually till mixture is stiff peaks (about 3 mins).  
5. Take 1/3 egg whites, add into yolk mixture (step 3), fold gently till incorporated.  Repeat the same till remaining egg white finishes.
6. Pour the batter into the baking tray (12"x12") .  Bake at 175*C for 20 mins.   
7. Remove the parchment paper and leave it cool. 

To Assemble:
1. Spread the chocolate cheese filling onto the sponge cake roll and gently roll into row.  Chill in the fridge to allow the log cake to set before garnishing.  

Chocolate Ganache:   

  • Method:  Bring whipping cream to boil,  stir in chocolate and butter till all melted and incorporated.  Let it set a bit before spreading/ pouring over log cake  Chill in fridge for at least an hour before serving.
- 100g dark couverture chocolate
- 100g whipping cream
- 30g butter

A Birthday and Early X'mas Celebration!

Although X'mas is round at the corner, it seemed that  I wasn't ready for it,  I couldn't feel the mood yet ... Why? Guess after working from home, I become very individual, office has become a virtual  working place for me, the face to face interaction with people has dropped to minimal.   With no people in the same team as me in Singapore, I have all the excuses not to go back and therefore, no more Christmas celebration in the office ..
But last Sunday, I started to feel some Christmas spirits ...   My sis-in-law organized a Christmas  party together celebrating her 50th birthday!  She asked me to bake a Christmas cake for this party but didn't mentioned about her birthday celebration.   I found out later from my hubby, to give her a surprise,  we told her we would bring a log cake instead.
Another big surprise from her lovely hubby! My brother-in-law made a special trip from UK to attend this party without telling her.  So sweet!!! Guess it's a best birthday present for this birthday girl!   Beside the surprise appearance, my brother-in-law helped her to prepare and cook most of the party dishes including turnkey and ham.. So envy! 

Initially, I wanted to bake a durian cake (as my sis-in-law's favorite) but since not everyone can accept its fragrant, I changed to Mango favor instead.  I'm glad I make the right choice as my "angmo" brother-in-law definitely cannot take it, believe he would say "Oh NO!!"

Although it was a simple celebration, we enjoyed the company, the time together and the food. The turnkey was so tender, the ham was so delicious, thanks for the good cook! It's glad to receive many compliments about the Mango Cheese Layer Cake. Most of them liked the fluffy sponge and refreshing cream :P.

If you would like to try this recipe, here you go ..

Mango Cheese Layer Cake

- ONE 9" vanilla sponge cake (use this recipe X1.25)
-  Filling (same filling recipe as non-bake Mango Cheesecake)

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 75g sugar
  • 2 tsp rum
  • 300g mango puree 
  • 1 ½ tbsp gelatin } Premix and double boil
  • 3 tbsp water }
  • 200ml dairy whipping cream (whipped)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300g or 1 mango (cubed)
  • 250g non-dairy top whipping cream (whipped and for icing)

1. Cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice together till smooth and creamy (2-3 mins). Add in rum and mango puree and mix well.
2. Mix gelatin powder with water and microwave for 20 sec or double boil till resolved. Keep warm but not hot for use later.
3. Whip whipping cream with 2 tbsp sugar till about 70% stiff or mousse state.
4. Stir into mango cheese mixture from step 1, add in gelatin solution from step 2 and mix till combined.
5. Lastly, stir in the cubed mango pieces and mix well.
6. Cut sponge cake into 3 layers, place a slice at bottom of a loose based pan. Pour 1/3 of mango cheese cream mixture on top, place the 2nd layer and pour another 1/3 of cheese cream over.
7. Repeat the same for the 3rd layer. Let the Mango Cheese Layer Cake to chill in fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight to set.
8. Whip top whipping cream, remove cake from ring, cover the cake with whipped cream and decor as desired. Chill for at least another 1- 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Never thought it takes me so long to update all the posts for my recent Taiwan trips ...  hope it's not too long winded.  Back to baking,  here is the Strawberry Shortcake that I baked lately .. 

For this bake, originally, I wanted to buy Strawberry from Korea but it was so expensive, a small box of 250g cost S$6-7.  To make a 8" cake, I will need at least 2 boxes , the cost is too high!  Therefore, I decided to pick those imported from NZ as it can cut the cost half.  

This cake definitely is an all time favorite item, I baked this many times.  If you need the recipe, please click here. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vacation@Taiwan Part 6 - Back in Taipei

Day 8 - Taipei -> Home Sweet Home
  • It was our last day of this Taiwan trip,  we stayed for a night in Taiepi before flying back to Singapore.  If not because of bad weather, we could have utilized our last day exploring more places rather than confining ourselves in Ximemding as our flight was in the late evening. 
  • We went Ximending a couple of times, in one of the trip, we stayed in a hotel near there. Although Ximending has a wide selection of fashionable clothing and accessories, nothing could entice me as I don't fancy shopping. I prefer to enjoy scenic places and exploring new and good foods.
  • We tried one of the dessert outlet in Ximending, it was so yummy and cheap!  In Singapore, we probably have to pay double for the same thing.  Thump-up!
  •  More street shots taken in Ximending here ...

It was a great time with my family in this Taipei trip although the weather wasn't perfect.   As I said, I like Taiwan, the place, the food and the people.  I will definitely plan for another trip soon!  See you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vacation@Taiwan Part 5 - Hehuanshan & Puli

Beside Misty Villa which where we stayed, there were other resorts/hotesl in Cingjing that offered very  comfortable and memorable staying experience.  Below are few which we explored around.
  • Shangrila Hanging Garden Resort - A pretty vintage and old English resort, strongly recommended by our taxi driver.  This was the resort I wanted to book for this trip but room was not available.  I must try this in my next visit.   
  • Energy Vacation Village - It's a very well designed village with wood, it has a very spacious lookout area.  I personally quite like the place but our taxi driver didn't give good assessment.
  • The Old England - we made a special visit to Old England wanting to spend an afternoon there for tea but their menu didn't entice my daughter and at last, we didn't get to go in.
    Day 7 - Cingjing Farm -> Hehuanshan -> Puli
    • It was time to bid goodbye to Cingjing Farm,  we needed to return to Taipei for flight back to Singapore.  We hired the same taxi driver for another day of service as we planned to explore Hehuanshan and Puli before heading back to Taipei via High Speed Train in Taichung Train Station.  Again, we didn't have luck, the weather continued gloomy and it rained all the way we arrived  Hehuansahn.  Sigh! Sigh! Sigh!
    •  We were told Hehuanshan is higher than 3000 meter, it was very cold and chilly during the raining day, if I'm not wrong, the temperature probably was at 5*C.   Hehuanshan supposed to be very spectacular and scenic, we supposed to see the best "sea of clouds" formations here, however, given such weather condition, everywhere was foggy,  misty and wet.  Such a waste for the long journey here!
    •  This gentleman is the taxi driver, Mr. Wang who drove us around in Nantou.  We were very pleased with his service as he was very friendly and helpful. 
    • It finally stopped raining on our way back from Hehuanshan, that gave us the luxury to enjoy a clear weather and scenic view. Such beautiful and spectacular terraced of tea plantations was seen along the way!
    • We heard so much about 18*C before our trip and therefore requested the taxi driver to bring us there.  To my surprise, it's a shop outlet, heard that the factory didn't allow visitors.  Since there were many people queuing up for the chocolate, we just joined the crowd and bought two boxes of chocolates - one was original flavor, the other was green tea flavor.  The chocolate indeed was very chocolaty and smooth.  We love it so much!
    • Next destination was the Puli Brewery Factory, understand that it's one of the famous tourist spots in Puli.  Over there, we could learn about the history of the wine in Chinese culture, the local aboriginal winery culture, the wine industry and the factory development, it's like a visit to winery cultural museum!  Very informative!
     What's he doing here?!  
    • The taxi driver recommended another place to visit before leaving Puli, that' is Chung Tai Chan Monastery (中台禪寺).   The building is very tall, heard that it's one of the tallest and largest temple/ monastery in Taiwan.   The building is well embellished with carving and fresco, inside the hall, you could find many enormous statues standing or sitting there.  What a splendor!

    • The scenery outside of the monastery was very scenic that day, thank god for the good weather.
    It's time to say goodbye to Puli as it's getting late.  We needed to rush to Taichung Train Station for a train back to Taipei.  Our day in Puil had finally ended in this chapter ..

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Vacation@Taiwan Part 4 - Cingjing Farm at Nantou

    Here, I come!  My dream holiday destination - Cingjing Farm!   Wow... a charming castle just appeared in front of me!  How nice if I could stay in this hotel forever ... This hotel was featured in many of the travel documentary programs and highly recommended but you must be prepared to splurge.   Although we didn't book into The Old England, I planned to spend an afternoon for a English tea there ...

    Day 6 - Cingjing Farm
    • Finally, we arrived Misty Villa which was the resort we would be staying in Cingjing Farm.    This resort although is not as luxury as The Old England, it's pretty comfortable and value for money.  It was strategically located at the heart of the town, very near to Starbucks, 7 Eleven and many eateries, therefore, it's very convenience as compare to other resorts.
    • The room we stayed was spacious with a balcony overlooking spectacular cloud formation and a scenic view of the mountain. So shiok! We felt like we were living in the heaven ...:P
    • Misty Villa served very decent breakfast which had a combination of Asian and Western foods,  although it's simple, we had no complaint. 
    • After breakfast, we hesitated for a while on whether to visit Green Green Grassland as it was raining.  At last, we decided to go  despite of the rain. Green Green Grasslands is the most popular place in Cingjing Farm.  The weather was erratic during our visit, the rain came and stopped, if not because of the bad weather, I believe we could capture very stunning photos. 
    •  To get close to the sheep for photo taking, we bought some food. With the food on hand, it really worked, many of them came so close to us. Feeding sheep was fun and and amazing!
    • There were many other attractions in Green Greem Grasslands but because of the rain, it deterred us from exploring. Many of the animal performances/ shows had been cancelled as well. Sigh! Such a disappointing day! 
    • At one stage, it was raining pretty heavily, we had no choice to hide under a shelter for more than 30 mins.  Luckily, the rabbits there were cute enough to kill our time.  My daughter seemed to enjoy very much playing with them. 
    • We waited for the rain to stop before we headed to Swiss Garden.  With the wet weather, the place was very misty, we had to wait for the fog to go away before we could take some decent shots.  The garden in fact is quite small, I don't think it's beathtaking as claimed by some of the travel bloggers.  Perhaps we didn't come at the right season!? Anyway, I shall let the pictures to do all the talking.

    Wow! We entered into this restaurant which all the furniture were made of the carton board ...Carton King, it's amazing and interesting!  The restaurant was well decorated and I would say the food was yummy!

    Stayed tuned for next chapter in Cingjing Farm ...


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