29 December 2010

Bun in the Oven

Hi World, say hello to my latest confection - baby buns, or sweetie pie, as we like to call our girls. Yes, number 3 is sugar and spice and everything nice, and she's been all the baking I have managed to do well for the past few months.

Mainly because morning sickness and baking are not complementary. My one attempt at baking during the first 16 weeks did NOT go well. For some reason I decided on making a souffle cheesecake. I ended up running away from my baking every few minutes to gag/upchuck because, well, cheese does that to you when you are nauseous. I haven't had cheese since then. And I am only slowly starting to try chocolate desserts again. Isn't it strange how pregnancy messes up your taste buds?

Thankfully, the dreaded nausea ended after 16 weeks. And at 21 weeks now, my energy levels are starting to rise slowly again. More importantly, I am finally getting round to the idea of desserts again. Which means I might get round to posting about them again soon. Provided I can get over this inexplicable urge to spring clean every corner of my house. Another side effect of pregnancy. Oh well.

In the meantime, if you are still reading, drop me a line. Tell me what awesome desserts you have been eating. Inspire me.

And oh, by the way, a Blessed Christmas and Jolly New Year to all! May you have an abundance of meals this year that will be memorable because they are prepared and shared with love, and with those you love.

And may you (and I) also not have to eat turkey leftovers into the New Year.

07 September 2010

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, with Praline Macadamias (aka Kill Me With A Spoon)


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If my refrigerator ever became sentient, I swear the first thing it would do is take out a restraining order against me.

But since that is almost certainly never going to happen, will somebody PLEASE, I beg you, just lock up my freezer and throw away the keys.

Because ever since I made my first 2 tubs of this Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, I have been violating my freezer repeatedly through the day, every day.

At first, I thought I just had to finish it fast and get it over with.  But instead, the empty tubs tricked me into filling 'em up with another batch of ice cream.  Only this time, I also added Praline Macadamias.

And what a bloomin' fool of a decision that turned out to be.

What was I thinking.  Salty burnt caramel ice cream, with fragrant, buttery, toasted macadamias in sweet and crunchy praline??   It might as well have been chunks of Kryptonite.

And there's no stopping me now, as I am scraping the bottom of my 4th ice cream tub.  Consumed all the time with thoughts of making a third batch.  What do you think, Salted Caramel Ice Cream with ... Praline Pecans? Crunchy Nougat?  Chocolate Fudge? Chocolate cookies?

I think I need HELP.

06 September 2010

Mango and Mixed Berries Coconut Crumble

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Which way do you crumble?

I know folks who like it plain.  Just the usual butter, flour, sugar (maybe brown sugar) and a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg.  But I never did like basic.

I like to add oats (what a good way to fill up on more of that artery de-clogger, I say), and sometimes, toasted almonds (extra crunch!).

But my favourite crumble of all time, has got to be a coconutty crumble. It's just a little bit unexpected.  A special touch that makes me (and hopefully my guests) feel like my homely crumble was actually something I honestly wanted to make.  And not just a rescue plan for my fruits in distress.

Do you know that coconut goes amazingly well with mangoes?   

The berries were great too, although I will confess that they were in there because, well, they needed rescuing.  But c'mon, check out that beautiful purply burst-berried rim in the photo above, they baked up so pretty! Blueberries + Raspberries = Purple Juices!!! And they tasted brilliant too, honest.

But if you are not dictated by the fruits in your fridge (like I frequently am) I urge you to go ahead and make a Banana and Mango Crumble. THAT, I know, would be totally phenomenal with the coconut topping.

30 August 2010

The Perfect Birthday Chocolate Cake


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I promised I would share the recipe for the Despicable Me Birthday Cake I made for Sugababe 1.

This is also my go-to recipe for all my 3D birthday cakes. There are 3 very good reasons for this:

Firstly, chocolate cake is a real crowd pleaser.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the rate of consumption for chocolate cakes is about 3 times faster than for any other type of cake.  Or that people seem to have a separate stomach for chocolate that makes them go back for seconds.  My 3D birthday cakes tend to be pretty big, and if I want to avoid having leftover birthday cake for days after the event, chocolate cake it will have to be. 

Secondly, this recipe makes a large enough cake for me to construct a proper-sized 3D cake diorama. And allows me to fit all those cartoon characters that my Sugababes are so fond of requesting for their birthdays.  Also, this is the largest-sized cake that can still fit on the largest foil-wrapped cake board (and cake box) that is sold here. 

Thirdly, this is a buttermilk recipe.  You may already know how much I adore the tangy flavour of buttermilk cakes.  The other thing to love about buttermilk recipes like this one is how easy and failproof it is. No creaming of butter till 'pale and fluffy' or beating of egg whites to 'stiff but not dry'.  Not that I am doubting your ability to do those well.  But if you are like me, cakes have a cruel way of failing on me on the eve of big events.  I kid you not - I once had to throw out 24 cupcakes I was doing for a birthday.  I almost cried, not just because they were so flat, oily and ugly.  But from the sheer shame of it all.  I mean, cupcakes???  Not only were these very BASIC cupcakes, I had also baked from this recipe umpteen times without incident.  No matter how much I think I have improved in my baking skills, tragic events like these keep me humble.

So. If you have to bake a big birthday cake (which is really the size of TWO birthday cakes - think how painful it would be to have to redo that).  And do not want to discover that it is possible to suddenly lose your butter-creaming prowess because of Murphy's law.  Or if you have more important  things to stress over (like what expressions to give Gru's naughty little minions). This chocolate cake recipe will serve you well.
 
There are so many ways to fill, frost and serve up a good chocolate cake. 

For the Despicable Me cake, the basic recipe was transformed into a Coco-Nana Chocolate Cake.  Imagine dark, rich and moist chocolate cake layers with a hint of espresso.  Separated by generous chunks of sweet pisang mas ('golden bananas'), embedded in rich whipped chocolate. And frosted all over with a layer of fragrant coconut buttercream.  That combination of dark chocolate, sweet bananas and salted coconut .... I can't tell you how delicious it was.  I hope you try it and find out!

This was definitely one birthday cake I wish I had more left over.


15 August 2010

Despicable Me Birthday Cake: How to Make A Minion


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After making so many minions for my daughter's Despicable Me birthday cake, I feel somewhat qualified (as Chief Minion) to give this tutorial. Before you embark on this venture, you should note that an alternative, but no less appropriate, title for this tutorial would be "How to Make Yourself A Minion".

So if you are still not deterred by that warning, here goes:

Materials:
1 box Wilton's Pure White Rolled Fondant
3 - 4 strands rice vermicelli
Wilton Paste Colours in Black, Royal Blue & Golden Yellow
Toothpicks

Prep:
Before you start, dye your fondant separately into black, blue and yellow. (More for yellow, less for blue and even less for black). Reserve some white fondant. Depending on how many minions you wish to make, you may not need to use up the whole box of fondant. (I used less than one box for 15 minions). 
Also dye some strands of rice vermicelli black, for the hair.

Sculpting:

Roll out a yellow piece like this!


Give him eyes ...
Roll out a flat rectangular blue piece and wrap it on him like a little diaper
Roll out 2 blue pieces like these (rectangles with bottom 2 corners trimmed)and attach it to his sides
You may have to do a fair bit of smoothening to make it blend seamlessly. I like to use a toothpick (moistened slightly if necessary) like a mini rolling pin to blend the edges.




















Cut (not roll) 2 long strips for the overall straps
Add buttons to the front, and using a toothpick, render the stitching along the edges of overall and in the front (for pockets)

Roll out two long yellow pieces for the arms (note that they have long arms almost reaching to their feet) and wrap the ends in black for the hands.


Give him black goggles and black shoes.  He should start to look cute at this point ... so exciting!

Stick short pieces of vermicelli for his hair, give him eyes (I like to use a 10ml syringe (without the needle of course) to punch out equal size eyeballs) and draw his mouth with a toothpick.

Feel free to give your minions all sorts of different expressions:



Despicable Me Birthday Cake





Twice a year, I become completely masochistic about baking. Specifically, about baking my daughters' birthday cake.

In May, I made a 3-D Ponya on the Cliff by the Sea cake for Sugababe 2's birthday. I thought then that it was the most difficult, laborious baking project I'd ever done (the little goldfish were terribly hard to sculpt). It was rewarding, but boy! Was I ever so glad that I was not doing 3D cakes for a living.


Then August rolled round and I had to start thinking about Sugababe 1's birthday cake. Feeling a little phobic about having to make yet another 3D cake, I asked her hopefully if it was okay if we just had a small birthday celebration with family, and a simple strawberry shortcake birthday cake.

Who was I kidding.

Of course she said NO. She wanted to invite all our friends AND have a big 3D cake to boot.

First, she asked for a Strawberry Shortcake cake in the shape of ... get this - a STRAWBERRY. Not a flat strawberry but a standing up 3D strawberry. I told her that structurally, that wasn't going to work.

And then she asked for a Cars (Pixar) cake. That was not too hard actually. I thought I would just do a racing track in the shape of the number "5", put some cars on it and make little racing flags to decorate it.

However, I somehow couldn't muster up enough enthusiasm to do a Cars cake. After all, the movie was four years ago - it just seemed like a Cars cake would be terribly passe.

And this is where my tendency for masochism becomes evident. I started thinking out loud about other cartoons for a themed cake. And before I had the good sense to stop myself, I said the words 'Despicable Me'. Which is like only the coolest animated 3D film in recent memory. With only the cutest most adorable yellow twinkie-shaped critters you ever saw. Is it any wonder then that Sugababe 1 was instantly in love with the idea?

The full extent my folly only dawned on me when I realised that, it being such a new movie, there would be no Despicable Me cake toppers and toys available. Which means that I would have to sculpt everything myself. *Face palm*

Whaddya know. Love makes you do strange things.

Three days of backbreaking labour later, here are the results.


And the reward for me? How she smiled when she saw the cake, and then squeezed me so tight and said, "I love you Mommy, you're a genius!"

And just like that, my heart melts. And I gladly sign up for many more years of completely masochistic birthday cake baking.

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Coming Up Next: How to Make A Minion and the recipe for Coco-Nana Chocolate Cake.

02 August 2010

Chocolate Banana Stud Cake

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We recently implemented a reward chart system for our girls.  Basically, every time they successfully produce the desired behaviour (finish their food on time, go to sleep without fuss, etc), they will earn a fancy ink stamp on their charts. If they accumulate enough stamps, they get the reward they asked for.

Guess what reward Sugababe 1 asked for? Yup. A cake. And not just any cake, but Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Banana Stud Cake. No, I don't mean that she actually said that. She's only 4, goodness.  That would be too creepy.  What I mean is that she found the object of her desire while leafing through my copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes and decided that that would be her reward.

I thought it was rather surprising that she wanted a 'reward cake'.  As opposed to toys, books or dolls. But a cake. Oh well.  Perhaps it's a little bit telling of what her mum spends too much time doing. Of course, Sugababe 2 asked for snakes. But that has nothing to do with me.

So, after 20 days of good behaviour, it was time for me to make good on the reward. (I should add that Sugababe 2 was very excited about this, she reminded me no less than 4 times that I had to fulfil my promise).  


If there was ever a cookbook author who was a textbook high "C" on the DISC profile (think Monica on Friends), Beranbaum might just be the one. Extremely meticulous, each of her recipes is detailed down to the last letter, so that you will know exactly what to do.  It is no secret that Beranbaum's recipes are rigorously tested, and that she approaches each one with the precision of a food scientist. That, coupled with the way she writes with such authority and exactitude makes me (admittedly a real meddler with recipes) guilty about varying it in the slightest degree. I mean, she doesn't just tell you to put in "one large banana".  She lets you know that she means 112 grams of banana. So I dutifully ate up the extra 22 grams of banana.

But hey, I am not complaining.  Her meticulous style means that your cakes will turn out as promised.

Just as mine did this time.

Chocolatey, extremely tender-crumbed and deliciously fragrant with banana.  Not like those heavy banana cakes that tend to be a little cloying, no. This one was full of flavour and yet light in texture and taste.  

Plus the white chocolate studs were just such fun to put on.


24 July 2010

Scrumdiddlyumptious Fudgemallow Pie

 
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Blame it on Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, a cookbook by the gorgeous, curvaceous former model Sophie Dahl.  I chanced upon her book while browsing at the library last week. It is a pretty cool cookbook/food memoir,  full of charming little anecdotes and  homely recipes which I thought I might get round to trying someday.  

Problem was, once the book was back on the shelf, (and this is revealing of my hopelessly distracted thought process) all I could think of was the word "Scrumdiddlyumptious".  A word ingeniously coined, of course, by none other than Miss Dahl's famous writer grandfather Roald Dahl.*  

I believe it is difficult, if not impossible, to find another word  in the English language which so singularly and immediately conveys a sense of supreme, lip-smacking yummaliciousness (see, I needed to use 3 words, told ya).   Once planted in my head, it simply refused to leave me alone. On and on, like a chorus of inebriated Oompa Loompas, the refrain  of "Scrumdiddlyumptious scrumdiddlyumptious scrumdiddlyumptious" played on my mind for the rest of the week.  

You can understand of course, that it was only a matter of time before I was seized with the  irresistable urge to make, and consume in large quantities, something truly and marvellously scrumdiddlyums.  

It wasn't hard to decide what would fit the bill.    

It had to be Fudgey. Creamy. Buttery. Sweet.  There would have to be Chocolate. Peanut Butter. And Marshmallows.  And most importantly, it would not be healthy.  The last being not so much a requirement as it is a matter of fact. For scrummy and healthy never the twain shall meet.

And that's how the Fudgemallow Pie was born. 

A fudgey chocolate brownie pie, spread generously with the smoothest, butter-creamed peanut butter, topped with coconut flakes and big fluffy marshmallows.  And then smothered all over with warm chocolate sauce.  The sensation of melty, chocolate-coated marshmallows against the salty-sweetness of creamy peanut and coconut on fudge, is out of this world. 

When you take your first bite, your brain will exclaim in sugar-induced ebullience, "By golly, this IS Scrumdiddlyumptious!!".  And then scarcely after recovering from the shock of its intense, chocolatey, fluffernutterish deliciousness, it might scream "MORE!!!". Or in my case, "This needs ice-cream!" Which of course it does.  Cold creamy, vanilla bean ice-cream melting atop its warm, oozey, chocolatey, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth fudgey goodness. You cut yourself another slice.

And then after 5 minutes, you realise this was indeed rich. Very rich. And that it might be wise to stop. Now. As you perhaps recall gluttonous Augustus Gloop's ignoble end in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But then your tastebuds override your better sense and you launch yourself into another serving. SCRUMDIDDLYUMPTIOUS!!!

16 July 2010

Limoncello Spritzer Glaciers with Summer Fruit

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There are times when I crave a simple dessert.  A dessert with a 'light touch' that will be the perfect, sweet ending to a rich, heavy meal.  Not a sugar-laden, creamy, chocolatey dessert that will make me sick like "Lardass" Hogan in a pie-eating contest.

That's where these jelly glaciers come in. I call them glaciers, because that's what they look like, with those gorgeous red, black and blue berries in beautiful, suspended animation.  Like little pieces of a wild berry summer frozen in liquid crystal.  Calling to mind the sensuous summer fruits peddled in Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market, of which goblin men call enticingly to lure fair maidens "Come buy, come buy!"

Rosetti's description of forbidden fairie fruits is certainly one to whet the appetite, but the inspiration for this dessert was taken from Jamie Oliver's Prosecco Jellies.

The beauty of these jellies, apart from the fact that they are "sound to tongue and sweet to eye" (not to mention alcoholic), is that they contain fizz. Yes, when done right, they fizz delightfully in your mouth as you are eating them.  However, making sure that there is enough fizz in the jellies takes a fair bit of skill and effort. Out of the 2 batches I made, only 2 jellies turned out fizzy, because I was interrupted halfway and didn't chill them fast enough. (I have to add though, that there was also a cup of 7-Up jelly I made for Sugababe 2 that fizzed ever so beautifully, and which she devoured in 3 seconds flat, but you don't need the recipe for that ...)

So if you need a light, fresh, palate-cleansing dessert; or want another way to showcase berries on your dinner table; or if the following lines from the Goblin Market give you a thirst for the lush sensations of summer-ripened, ambrosial fruit juices; then give this recipe a try.

Goblin Market
by Christina Rosetti
(Read full version here)

Morning and evening

Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,

Come buy, come buy:

Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,

Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,

Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,

Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,

Crab-apples, dewberries,

Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--

All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;

Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,

"
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,

Come buy, come buy."


11 July 2010

Oh Luscious Lemon

How do I love thee, let me count the ways ...

... juiced and cooked, into a jar of homemade Lemon Curd:



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... squeezed and drizzled, in a Strawberry Lemon Trifle:


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... chilled and whipped, into a cup of lovely Lemon Mousse:




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A sweet revenge for every lemon that I have been given lately.

Specifically, in this World Cup Season.

U.S., Portugal, Brazil, Germany.  Refereeing lemons, own-goal lemons, and the lemon that is Cristiano Ronaldo. I don't mind you saying, I'm a sour loser.

Well you know what they say, when life gives you lemons, make a lemon ... treat? No? Doesn't work for you?

Yeah I know. There's nothing more I'd like right now than a vigorously lemoned deep-fried octopus.  This Octopus, in particular.

But for now we'll just have to behave and stick to the Lemon Mousse, okay?


Recipe for Luscious Lemon Mousse Cups
A deliciously smooth and uplifting dessert.  Full of fresh, tangy, lemony zing, this is a joy in hot weather, and refreshingly light after a heavy meal. 

Makes 10 - 12 cups

Crust
1.5 cups shortbread cookie/digestives crumbs
40 grams unsalted butter, melted

Mix cookie crumbs with melted butter and spread evenly on base of cups. Chill in refrigerator until firm.



Mousse
(adapted from Bon Appetit, Apr 2005) 
1 recipe Lemon Curd 
2.5 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
3 large egg whites
3/8 tsp cream of tartar
85g sugar
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Lemon slices (garnish)

Pour 2.5 tablespoons of water into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 7/8 cup of lemon curd in large bowl. Stir 3/8 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm. 

Microwave gelatin mixture on medium-high setting until dissolved and liquid is clear (do not let boil). Whisk warm gelatin mixture into 3/8 cup of warm curd. Gradually whisk gelatin-curd mixture into curd in large bowl. 

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until frothy, then add cream of tartar. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until whites are stiff, thick and glossy, and swish very slightly in the bowl. Fold whites into curd mixture in 3 additions. Whip cream in another medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into egg white-curd mixture in 3 additions. Pour enough mousse over cooled crust in each cup.  Cover and chill mousse cups for at least 2 hours. Top with reserved curd and chill for at least another 3 hours. Garnish with lemon slices and serve. 

08 July 2010

Summer Berries and Lemon Curd Pavlova

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What can I say, I love berries. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, boysenberries ... hit me with any berry you can think of - there's a high chance I will like it. 

What does this have to do with Pavlova? Well, my friend, Pavlova is simply one of the best ways to deliver some berry love. 

But that is just the berry mad part of me talking. Because, of course, Pavlova is more, much more, than just a delivery system for berries.   

Named in honour of the famous Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, this meringue-based dessert is a delight in its own right.  Sweet, light and delicate, there could not have been another dessert more aptly named after the ethereal Russian beauty.  

What distinguishes the pavlova from normal meringues, is that beneath its thin, crisp shell, lies a soft, marshmallow-like center that literally melts in your mouth.  Yes, you heard right, MARSHMALLOW. Another one of those things in life you can't ever get too much of. 

If you want to get into the technical side of things, what makes a pavlova different from a normal meringue is the addition of cornstarch.  This keeps the insides of the pavlova soft and moist, whereas the usual meringue has a sticky, chewy interior.  

One issue, however, that I have with the otherwise perfect pavlova, is that it often tends to be too sweet. Unfortunately, this can't be solved by simply reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe willy-nilly.  Even a tinkerer like me is wary of messing with the sugar proportions of a pavlova, because the high sugar content is necessary for its internal structure to hold.

The pavlova is therefore often paired with tart fruits like berries, kiwis and passionfruit, which goes some way towards mitigating its sugary-sweetness.  However, nothing quite works the charm for me as having my pavlova with some deliciously sour lemon curd. Besides, since pavlova requires egg whites, and lemon curd requires egg yolks, the marriage of the two is not just gastronomically perfect but also happily convenient in not generating leftovers for my already over-burdened fridge.

There are some desserts that are just better home-made, and a Pavlova would fall in this category. You would not likely find an equal version in a bakery or restaurant, because a home-made pavlova is so delicate that its fragile crust will yield under the slightest pressure.  It will simply not take to too much handling. You will also discover that once it is assembled, it will not hold together for more than a few hours, and is therefore best served immediately, and finished on the same day.  

As SugahDaddy so wisely observed, the Pavlova is like a ballet performance, delicate and fleeting, to be enjoyed, and savoured, in the moment. 


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Recipe for Summer Berries and Lemon Curd Pavlova

(copyright A Spoonful of Sugah)

Pavlova

4 egg whites (120 grams)
1 cup castor sugar (200grams)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons cornstarch/cornflour
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger*
1 teaspoon lemon zest*
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 130C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 18cm circle on the paper. (Alternatively, you can bake the pavlova in a oven-proof plate that can also be used for serving, so that you won't have to transfer it to another plate after baking. This prevents its crust from cracking from too much handling.) 

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until frothy, then add cream of tartar.  Beat until fully incorporated then begin to add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat to soft peaks, then once that happens, add vanilla extract and beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.  You know that the right consistency has been reached, when the egg white mixture does not fall out when the bowl is overturned.   

Using a spatula, gently fold in the cornflour, zest, grated ginger, and lemon juice, taking care to distribute evenly but not overfold the mixture.   

With a palette knife, spread the meringue over the circle drawn on the baking parchment, into the shape of a cake.  (The sides should be slightly higher than the middle so that there will be a slight indentation in which to fill with cream and fruits.) Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the outside of is dry and turns a pale cream colour.  

Turn the oven off and leave door very slightly ajar, to let the meringue cool completely in the oven (about 3 hours).  The pavlova may sink and crack a little on cooling. **

Lemon Curd
(from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar)

4 large egg yolks  (74 grams)
3/4 cup sugar  (150 grams)
3 fl oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 1/2 large lemons=94 grams)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) (57 grams)
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated) (4 grams)

Have a strainer, suspended over a bowl, ready near the range.

In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (A candy thermometer will read 196°F.) The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. (It will steam above 140°F. Whenever steaming occurs, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly to prevent boiling.) 

When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Press it with the back of a spoon until only the coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest. Let cool complely to room temperature.

Whipped Lemon Cream  
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 tablespoons lemon curd 

Using an electric mixer, whip whipping cream into soft peaks, then add icing sugar and vanilla extract, and continue whipping to stiff peaks. Fold in lemon curd gently. 

Assembly
Top meringue base with lemon whipped cream, spoon over some lemon curd, and top decoratively with 1 to 1.5 cups of mixed berries.  Serve immediately, with remaining lemon curd. 

*Another issue with meringue-based desserts, is that they can sometimes have a slight eggy taste and smell that can be a little off-putting.  After all, meringues are nothing more than beaten egg whites. I find however that the addition of lemon zest and grated ginger is quite effective in preventing it from developing this eggy aftertaste, besides giving it a refreshing 'lift' on the palate. 

**I have been asked by a friend, A, how to prevent a pavlova from sinking upon cooling.  Letting the pavlova cool slowly in the oven is commonly done to prevent the pavlova from shrinking too much from the sudden drop in temperature. However, despite this being done, there might still be a slight deflation particularly in the center of the pavlova. From what I have read, this is normal, and not a bad thing since the cracks can be disguised with cream and fruit.  The crack-free and sturdier 'pavlovas' which are sold at bakeries, are commonly not true pavlovas as such, but traditional meringues (without cornflour) which, because of its completely different texture, does not suffer from similar problems of shrinking/cracking. 

02 July 2010

Burnt Caramel Cake with Coffee Cream

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Do you like caramel?

I ADORE caramel, in any manner, shape or form.  Hot caramel sauce, sticky toffee puddings, butterscotch candies ... I haven't yet met a caramel I haven't liked. And don't even get me started on Garrett's phenomenal Caramel Popcorn, otherwise known as Heart-Attack in a Bag.  Have you tried it? You should. Just have a defibrillator ready. Because I assure you, you will finish the whole bag yourself. 

I guess it is no surprise then, that I was smitten the moment I saw Rose Levy Beranbaum's Karmel Cake recipe.  I mean, it's made from a WHOLE CUP of caramel.  It had me at "Hello".

When making caramel, I like to take it to the limit  - from honey to amber to dark amber-brown - the the point where it is almost burnt, or you could say, scorched.  I find that makes the best, full-bodied and complex-flavoured caramel.  Undercooked caramel is just sweet in a one-toned, supermarket-confection, kids' candy sort of way.  And nowhere as exciting on the palate as scorched caramel.  Of course accidents can happen when you try to make burnt caramel.  It's important to note that when chefs say burnt caramel, they really mean almost-burnt caramel, not burnt-black-as-coal burnt caramel.  The latter is what happens when you play Angry Birds on your iPhone while waiting for your caramel to darken.  And is good for nothing except giving your arms a good workout when you scour the pot.  

Beranbaum's Karmel Cake recipe is really quite perfect on its own.  But of course, being the meddler that I am, I had to tinker with it. And so, instead of using light caramel (softball stage), I used burnt caramel.  This produced a beautifully fragrant cake, but also a cake with a darker brown crust, which admittedly did not look as pretty as Beranbaum's unadorned honey golden Karmel cake.  Not that it really mattered, because I had already decided that it would become a layer cake.  The result? Two layers of coffee-moistened burnt caramel cake, filled with Kahlua-flavoured coffee whipped cream and whipped chocolate frosting.  The burnt caramel cake is good enough to eat on its own, but the coffee cream complements it so beautifully you would probably not want to leave that out.

29 June 2010

Chocolate & Hazelnut Reverse Dominoes

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Rich, creamy Valrhona Jivara Milk Chocolate, laced with rum, and studded with butter-roasted hazelnuts.  All this sitting on a crunchy chocolate wafer base slathered with sticky Dulce de Leche.

These Chocolate & Hazelnut Reverse Dominoes are so named, because they'll have you falling for them, not them for you.

Sprinkle with some margarita salt flakes before serving and they become absolutely phenomenal with salty-sweet chocolatey goodness. Trust me, like dominoes, your first piece will quickly be followed by another.

Don't just take my word for it. Look at those thieving fingers, stealing them from right under my nose (and camera lens).  This is NOT a posed shot, and a common occurence around here, I might add... 


















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Time to put the camera away.

Recipe for Chocolate & Hazelnut Reverse Dominoes
(copyright 2010 A Spoonful of Sugah)


Ingredients:
Layer 1:
180 grams pailette feuilletine*
260 grams premium milk chocolate (e.g.Valrhona 40%)
80 grams premium dark chocolate (e.g.Valrhona 55%)
105 grams nutella or praline paste

Layer 2:
350 grams thick caramel/Dulce de Leche (see here for instructions on how to make)
80 grams premium dark chocolate (e.g.Valrhona 55%)
pinch of fleur de sel/salt

Layer 3:
250 grams heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat)
350 grams premium milk chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp rum
1 cup toasted hazelnuts (rub with butter for the last 2 minutes of toasting).

Method:
Layer 1:
Line a 13"by 13" sheet pan (with at least 1" height) with baking paper.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (taking care not to overheat). Remove from heat. Add nutella/praline paste and mix until fully combined. Stir in pailette feuilletine.  Press mixture into an even layer on sheet pan. Chill in fridge until firm, at least 1 hour.

Layer 2:
Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave (taking care not to overheat).  Stir in melted chocolate, 1 tablespoon at a time, into dulce de leche. Mixing well after each spoonful. Add a pinch of fleur de sel or salt and mix well. Spread chocolate caramel paste evenly onto the chilled wafer base.  Chill in fridge until firm, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Layer 3:
Place milk chocolate chips/feves in a bowl. Heat whipping cream gently over stove, remove from heat once it starts to simmer. Pour hot cream over milk chocolate chips/feves and let stand for 1/2 minutes. Stir through until chocolate is completely melted.  Add golden syrup and rum, then stir to combine.

Pour chocolate mixture into sheet pan (over layers 1 and 2). Working quickly, press whole hazelnuts randomly into the chocolate.  Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until chocolate bar is firm enough to cut.

Cut into squares and serve with a sprinkle of margarita or maldon sea salt flakes.

* pailette feuilletine are crushed vanilla wafers. I purchase mine in bulk (i.e. 2 kg) from Euraco Fine Food Ltd (You can contact Ms Celine Lo at 6276 5433, and mention that you were referred by A Spoonful of Sugah).  If you are not inclined to purchase so much, I've read somewhere that Chinese love letters, crushed finely, make a reasonable substitute.
    




28 June 2010

Red, White and Blue

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Seeing as the Fourth of July is just round the corner, what better way to celebrate Independence than with a Red Velvet - a proper all-American Southern cake?  Be that as it may, I did not quite have this in mind when I baked this cake.  After all, my country's independence is in August, not July.  And, truth be told, I don't need much persuasion at all to turn out a Red Velvet Cake.   Just a couple of blocks of cream cheese and a carton of buttermilk in the fridge, and my mind will subconsciously incline itself towards this tender-crumbed buttermilk cake.      


Add to that the fact that I am as much a fan of buttermilk cakes as I am a sucker for striking visuals.  Which explains why after having (I believe) developed a more refined palate over the years I still find myself inexplicably giving in to the lure of the golden arches and all the empty calories it represents.  So, much as I am aware that the cake owes it's glorious hue to Wilton's food colouring, I can't help but fall for the beautiful contrast of its bold, velvety red against the creamy white frosting.  Good looking cakes just taste better.  Just ask my Sugababes, who will eat almost anything heart-shaped and pink.

My favourite way to eat this cake is with lots of blueberries and raspberries heaped on top and sandwiched between its layers.  Alternatively, you could eat it like a true Southerner, with a generous topping of flaked coconut.

The recipes for Red Velvet Cakes tend to be pretty standard, with some substituting vegetable oil for butter to produce a more tender crumb. I prefer however the full flavour of a butter cake. The recipe below produces a cake that is not only tender, but which also has an open fluffy texture from the dual leavening action of creaming butter and the reaction between buttermilk and baking soda. 

Recipe for Red, White and Blue Velvet Cake 
(adapted from Saveur and Bon Appetit) 

Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
2 heaped tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (shake well before using!)
1 tablespoon red food coloring (I used 2 tsp Wilton's Christmas Red colouring paste)
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Frosting
454 grams cream cheese, room temperature
113 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2  cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp lemon zest
Topping
1 cup blueberries/raspberries
1.5 - 2 cups flaked coconut 

For cake:
Preheat oven to 180C. Line with baking paper, two 7.5" by 10.5" rectangular cake pans (alternatively, two 9" diameter cake pans) with at least 1.5" inch-high sides. 

Dry  ingredients: Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.  Mix dry ingredients well with a whisk. 

Buttermilk mixture: Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. 

Using electric mixer, cream sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add beaten eggs in 2 instalments, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions. 

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 - 30 minutes.  Do not overbake. Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely. 

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla. Add icing sugar and beat until smooth.

Trim each cake of its domed top to get flat cake layers.  Frost cake with cream cheese frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Top (and/or sandwich cake) with blueberries or flaked coconut.  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1/2 hour before serving.

25 June 2010

Samba to this Salsa

The only thing possibly better than having a BBFF (i.e. Baking BFF), is having a FBFF - Football BFF.  In my case I am blessed to have found both in my cool girlfriend C (which makes her a BFBFF).  This is my contribution for our Brazil vs Portugal football & tapas party which she is hosting tonight.

I am fussy when it comes to salsa.  That's not to say I am an authority on it, just that this is the way I like it - fresh, spicy and sharp.  I believe the first time I tasted good salsa was at Rosa Mexicano in New York, on our honeymoon. I never ever ate salsa from a jar again.  The secret to Rosa Mexicano's salsa is the paste, which is made in a molcajete, or a stone pestle and mortar. I have varied the original version over the years, and as best as I can correctly record, these are the proportions I now use.  The qualifier is there because salsa is one of those dishes that you really have to taste and adjust as you go along. This is a less spicy version of what I would do for myself, since my tastebuds can't detect anything less than a direct hit of pure unadulterated jalapeno.  If you have more delicate tastebuds this will be exciting enough to make them tingle.  

Have these with some of Tostitos' Hint of Lime tortilla chips and you will understand why I need to run every week to keep the pounds off.
The only downside to making this salsa is that 1/4 of it (and the bag of chips) invariably ends up in my tummy before I even make it to the party.  Oh well, I hope what's left will be enough to last us until Portugal scores its first goal.

C'mon Portugal! Give me a reason to samba!!!

Guacomole ala Rosa Mexicano

Paste
2 tablespoon onions, chopped
 1 teaspoon jalapenos, chopped
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 ripe Hass avocados
6 tablespoons onions, chopped
1 – 2 teaspoon seeded, finely chopped jalapeno chile
3 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
3 - 4 chopped tomatoes, discard juice and seeds
salt to taste   
 Juice of 1 white lime
 dash of Tabasco  

Mash or blend paste ingredients into a paste.
Cut ripe avocado flesh into roughly 1cm cubes.
Squeeze lime juice over the avocadoes to prevent browning.
Add avocado cubes to the paste and thoroughly mix together. Do not mash as you do not want the guacamole to be mushy.
Add the rest of the ingredients and fold them together gently.
Add jalapenos and salt, a dash of Tabasco (and more lime juice if required) to taste.


24 June 2010

When in doubt, Tiramisu.

I have hardly met a person who didn't like Tiramisu (except for my friend M, but that is a story for another time).  Whenever I have a dessert deadline to deliver on and have neither time nor energy for something complicated, or more often than not, when I need an easy do-ahead dessert that will improve overnight, I will make tiramisu. The beauty of a tiramisu is that it is an impressive-looking, sophisticated dessert that will have everyone thinking you bought it, but which thankfully, is really a no-bake dessert that is not too difficult to make.

This is my go-to recipe:

Recipe for Tiramisu
(adapted from Gourmet)

Ingredients:
480ml of espresso sweetened with 1 tbsp sugar
113g caster sugar
3 tablespoons Kahlua 
4 large egg yolks
80 ml dry Marsala
500g (1 big tub) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
300ml chilled heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat)
36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers)
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Method:
Combine egg yolks, Marsala, and 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl. Set mixture over a saucepan of barely simmering water and beat using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume (7 to 9) minutes.  Mixture should look thick, creamy and pale.  Remove bowl from heat.  Gently beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whipping cream until it holds stiff peaks.

Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into espresso, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan or dish with ladyfingers, trimming to fit if necessary.  Each ladyfinger should not be dipped into the espresso for more than 1 second for each side.  The dipped ladyfinger should feel wet and moist on its outside but still have a firm core.   Brush ladyfingers with half the Kahlua.  Spread half of mascarpone filling on top and dust lightly with cocoa powder.

Repeat with a second layer of ladyfingers.

Chill, covered, for at least 6 hours before serving.



20 June 2010

Abracadabra, Alakazim, Eat These Cookies and You Won't Be Thin...

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...but you won't care either.  The first time I tried these, as baked by the inimitable Aunty V, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  The explosion of sweet, caramelly, nutty, coconutty and buttery flavours in my mouth was just out of this world.  I immediately packed a couple to bring home to Sugahdaddy.  I remember asking him, "What IS this stuff called?? Have you ever tasted anything THIS GOOD?", and obviously he hadn't, because he straightaway demanded that I obtain the recipe.

Aunty V, who is a kind of baking legend in our circles (whose theme song should be 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic') was kind enough to share with me the recipe for what I now know is called Magic Cookie Bars.  And they are magic, believe me, because I can get Sugahdaddy to do just about anything with a wave of these cookie bars.  The best part is, they are insanely easy to make.  These are what I would call high ROI (i.e. Return on Investment) desserts - minimum investment of effort for a crazy good return on results.

It is World Cup season again, and if you want to have some nice munchies while you cheer or cry your way through the games, you will not find a dessert with a better ROI than this, that will satisfy your nervous need to chew on something while leaving you enough time and energy to enjoy your games.


Magic Cookie Bars
(adapted from Borden Eagle brand's recipe

Ingredients:

1½ cups graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs
113 grams butter, melted
1 (14-ounce/397 grams) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
2 cups (340 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (Baker's Angel Flaked Coconut is the best because it is moist)
1 cup roughly chopped pecan nuts (can be substituted with other nuts)

Method:
1) Heat oven to 350°F/175C. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with baking paper.
2) Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in small bowl. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour half the sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Drizzle remaining condensed milk over the top.
3) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into bars or diamonds.
For perfectly cut cookie bars, chill in fridge to set before cutting.

Variations: Substitute chocolate chips or nuts with candy coated pieces, dried cranberries, raisins, mini-marshmallows or butterscotch chips.

Note: Do not be tempted to reduce the amount of condensed milk as it will impact on the taste.

13 June 2010

BROWNIE KNOCKOUT!

Few questions will generate such varied and passionate responses as "How do you like your brownies?", as I discovered last week in an informal Facebook survey. Some like it chewy, some like it fudgey (but almost none like it cakey).  Some like it plain, while others preferred fillings ranging from nuts (pecans, macadamias, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios), marshmallows, chocolate chips, to raisins.

I had taken it upon myself to make brownies for 2 parties, and even though I knew I couldn't please everyone, I was psyched enough by the challenge to try.  But how?

Many are the claims among published and unpublished chefs to the recipe for the "Ultimate Brownie", or the "Best Brownie in the World", and I had a difficult task trying to decide which recipes to use.

In the end, it came down to 2 recipes, and 3 different batches of brownies.    

The first, a Double Chocolate Mocha Brownie.  

Crunchy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, with a strong coffee flavour, and studded with chocolate chips, pecans and macadamias, this is what I imagined a 'Wall Street' Brownie would taste like, and was indeed Sugahdaddy's favourite.  If you are looking for a robust, grown-up brownie with a definite bite, this recipe from Gourmet will not disappoint. The bittersweet intensity of the Valrhona Equatoriale 55% Dark Chocolate and Italian expresso packs a punch, which was no less diminished when served with a scoop of vanilla.

They say that coffee brings out and accentuates the flavour of chocolate.  But if you, like me, think that your dark chocolate is just fine on its own and needs no help from coffee thank-you-very-much, then perhaps you will be enticed by the Dulce De Leche Brownie:  

Deeply chocolately, with a slightly crunchy crust and an interior that achieves that beautiful balance between chewy and fudgey, Nick Malgieri's recipe is not called Supernatural Brownies without reason.  This version was made to please those of my friends who preferred their brownies sans nuts.  I couldn't quite shake the feeling that a nut-less brownie was a little sad, and decided to drop generous gobs of Dulce de Leche in the brownie batter to liven it up (following the suggestion of my favourite food blogger and cookbook author David Leibovitz)

Dulce de leche is the Spanish name for what is basically milk caramel.  I love caramel of any kind, and the best part about dulce de leche  (apart from how its sensuously delicious it sounds) is that you can make it very easily at home.  All you need to do is to boil an unopened can of condensed milk in a pressure cooker for 30 - 45 minutes, and you will end up with this lovely caramel at the end. (Alternatively, you can cook it in the oven like Leibovitz suggests here.)  I boiled my can of condensed milk for the full 45 minutes, so as to get this gorgeously smooth, dark brown toffee.  I liked how its creamy sweetness balanced out the dark chocolate and added interest to the otherwise plain brownie. 

By the time I got to the third batch of brownies, I decided I wanted to stick to Malgieri's recipe. The original contender, Barefoot Contessa's Outrageous Brownies recipe, apart from the fact that it also contained coffee, would yield too many brownies for that recipe size.  Besides, as I said, I really liked the texture of those Supernatural Brownies.

And so, the Gone Nuts! Brownie was born.


Deliciously chocolately and pleasantly (but not overly) sweet, this was made with a mix of dark chocolate and milk chocolate in a 3:1 proportion (Varhona's Equatoriale 55% and Valrhona Jivara Lactee 40%).  I went crazy and filled it with 4 different nuts - macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts - giving this fudgey brownie a satisfying crunch. This brownie is my favourite, not least because I am such a nut lover. Served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous pouring of Dark Chocolate Sauce with Rum, this was irresistable and especially difficult to defend from the Sugababes during the photo shoot.      

Oh shoot, I guess I'll just let her have her have it then. 


Meanwhile, back at my parties (the reason for this brownie adventure in the first place) here's how the battle between the brownies played out:

Initially, it looked like the men favoured the Mocha Brownies, as they all seemed to gravitate toward getting a caffeine fix after dinner.  Comments pointed out that they were not too sweet and went very well with the ice cream and chocolate sauce.  But then, equal votes started coming in for the Dulce de Leche Brownies and the Gone Nuts! Brownies, as they all started to disappear at a more even pace.  I then realised that the fans of the Mocha Brownies were not so much dessert fans as a whole.  In the end, the clear winner was the Dulce de Leche Brownies, with the pace of consumption outstripping the others by a clear margin.  What can I say - even adults can appreciate a sugar high.

So there you have it.  Somewhere between those 3 versions, I thought my mission was accomplished and that I had managed to find THE Ultimate Brownie.  For about a minute.

Then someone remarked that if I added nuts into the Dulce de Leche Brownies, they would be perfect ...

09 June 2010

Sticky Cinnamon Buns

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Sometimes, when we run out of breakfast food (i.e. sliced bread, cereal or cake), and I am not inclined (which I usually am not) to buy a loaf of sliced bread, I will make my own bread.  Yes, I did mention before that I really dislike bread.  Which means that I will not go through great lengths to make it, and which in turn means that the recipe that I am about to share is really very simple or I would never have bothered.  Simpler, in fact, than driving out to get that loaf of bread. 

Sugar and spice and everything nice ... that's what these buns are made of.  Laced with sticky cinnamon and vanilla sugar within its swirls, and studded with sweet raisins and chocolate chips, these are phenomenal fresh out of the oven, and even better with a cup of coffee.  

The only problem is that they don't keep very well (no preservatives!), but I haven't had to worry about that too much because they disappear quite quickly around here.

You can bake these in muffin cups, muffin tins, or any tin of any shape - round, square or rectangle.  Just squash them up like I did above.

The basic sweet bread recipe for these buns produces a loaf of a soft and fluffy texture, and can be used as a base for a variety of buns - e.g. ham and cheese buns, sausage buns, etc.

I should have taken a picture of a ripped apart bun just so that you can see the sticky goodness of the melted cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips within, but somewhere between trying to get a good shot and fending off my Sugababes (who are always hanging around like starved vultures trying to snatch my fresh-baked goodies) I forgot. But I think you can see from this photo the nice, open and fine texture of the bread.   
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So if you have never made bread from scratch before, give this a try. You may surprise yourself with how easy it is.


Recipe for Sticky Cinnamon Buns
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Dough:
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
1 1/8 cups (266g) lukewarm milk
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup potato flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt


Filling:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten, or 1 tablespoon milk (to brush on dough)
1/4 cups raisins 
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)


1. First, make the dough. If using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in the lukewarm milk. Let the yeast and milk sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded.  If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.


2. Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix and knead everything together by hand until you've made a smooth dough. Dough should form a smooth ball that does not stick to your fingers. (If dough sticks, add just enough flour until it comes away in a smooth ball, but do not add too much or it will become tough). Knead for about 10 minutes.


3.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, till it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy. 


4.  Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a  rectangle about 1/3 inch thick.  


5. To make the filling, whisk together the sugars and cinnamon powder. Brush the dough lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, covering the entire surface. Scatter raisins and chocolate chips evenly on dough.


6. Roll the dough into a log the long way. Slice the log into 12 – 14 slices.  Space the rolls in the prepared baking pans, allowing some space for expansion.  Cover the pans, and let the rolls rise till they're noticeably puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours; they should spread out and start to crowd one another. Brush the tops of the rolls lightly with egg.  


7. Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 minutes. Once done, brush the tops of the rolls with butter so as to soften the brown crust.

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