Chocolate souffle

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It was the little man’s sixth birthday a couple of weeks back and he had been asking for souffles. I stalled as much as I could but after a while, I just gave up. Well, watching Masterchef helped his cause as one of the pressure tests was…yes, you guessed it – making chocolate souffles!

Since it was a slow Sunday, I thought hey, why not make some souffles? The hubby had never had any despite being a French (gasp!) and before we knew it, we had some cute ramekins from Daiso, dark chocolate couvertures from the local baking supply shop and eggs.

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Marble Cream Cheese Loaf

Marble Cream Cheese Loaf

Eva woke up a little earlier than usual no thanks to the lengthening days – a sign that winter is slowly coming to an end. At first I delayed getting her up and kept telling her to go back to sleep. Finally, I got fed up and decided to do something about it – make a cake. It’s crazy to make one considering that it’s just the two of us eating for the next nine days but I thought why not? It would be fun for her…and sure enough, it was. At least the clean-up bit. She got to lick the spatula clean. Before that, it was going bonkers sniffing the cocoa powder, the sugar, tasting the cream cheese, the creamed butter…well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I have always known that if I stop baking for a while, my skills start rusting. It was true with this one. While I’ve always favoured the use of cane sugar over refined white sugar (castor sugar) because of its less processed qualities and better flavour, the biggest con about using granulated cane sugar is that it takes forever to “melt” and discolours when creaming. Instead of ending up with a smooth and fluffy pale creamed butter, I end up with a pale tan and gritty creamed butter. The grits comes from the sugar, in case you’re wondering. That aside, I’ve always used this gritty mix in my cakes and they still come out fine. Still, seeing pictures of fluffy pale creamed butter always sends me into a panic.

The original recipe for this loaf calls for extra sugar and water. Unlike Annie, I used medium sized eggs which probably accounts for a thicker batter. So I had to improvise and added in some milk in both the cake and cheese batter. The result is a rather spongy and moist cake that is rich in chocolate flavour as well as crunch. The timing was a bit iffy on this one – maybe because I used a loaf pan instead of a round pan like in Annie’s recipe. I tested with my trust cake skewer after 50 minutes when it look a bit browned and cracked a little on the top (typical with loaf pans) and it came out clean. So I turned it off and let it baked for another 5 minutes in the oven. It went even darker so I pulled it out and left it to cool. I suspect that the full 60 minutes would have burnt my cake. My advice? Check on your cake after 50 minutes and test.

But otherwise, enjoy! Me? I’m going to have a slice while surfing the Net for narrow shoes. Hehehehe.

NOTE: Do not overfill your loaf pan – this has a tendency to rise due to the use of self-raising flour AND the addition of baking powder.

Marble Cream Cheese Loaf
From House of Annie’s recipe here

Ingredients

(A) Chocolate portion
180 gms butter
Approx 150 gms sugar
3 eggs
120 gms self-raising flour
3-4 tbsp milk – optional
1 tsp baking powder

(B) Cream cheese portion
250 gms cream cheese
Approx 55 gms sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Cream the soften butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy before adding in the eggs one by one. When ready and well incorporated, fold in the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour and baking powder) by hand. Do not use a mixer for this step as it can result in a dense cake. Add the milk if the batter is too thick (it should be fluid like soft whipped cream). Place aside once done.
  3. In a separate dish, mix ingredients (B) until well incorporated.
  4. Pour in half of the chocolate cake batter, followed by half of the cream cheese batter and repeat until all the batter is used up. Using a spatula or skewer/stick, swirl around in figure 8 or criss-cross to create a marble or swirl effect. Be careful not to overdo this otherwise you’ll end up with pale mocha coloured cake.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes – test using a toothpick (it should come out clean if cooked). Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan. Once cooled, unmould and enjoy. This should be able to keep for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container or a few weeks if frozen/refrigerated.
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Steamed chocolate cake

Steamed Chocolate Cake

I usually bake my cakes and such but I wasn’t in the mood for working with a hot oven, with a big belly and all. So I thought I’d try something new like steaming up some desserts instead. Steaming desserts is more of an Asian technique rather than European (although I could be wrong) and as such, it is not uncommon to see steamed cakes available for sale in many Asian shops or markets.

I decided to try out a recipe I found online with some adaptations – I didn’t have any evaporated milk and I added a bit more cocoa powder plus sugar to make up for the fact that I wasn’t going to use any frosting on the surface. Just an added precaution, you could say. I am not very familiar with the texture or technique involved in making steamed cakes and when I was putting the liquids together (oil, milk, eggs and water), I was a bit tad worried about getting a too-runny cake batter. But at the end of putting everything together, it looked just about right.

I used a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe and lined it with greaseproof paper before pouring the batter in and then setting it on top of my steamer in my wok. Of course I was sure to test that everything fits right. No point in pouring the batter into the pan only to find out that you can’t cover your wok because the pan is too high or too big!!! After covering the wok to let the cake steam, the only thing left to do was to check every so often that there was enough water in the wok – the last thing you want is to run out of steaming hot water and end up burning your wok!

Texture- and taste-wise, this cake is ultra moist and fluffy, and not sweet at all (despite me adding in a little more sugar than called for in the recipe). There is a good deal of chocolate-y taste to it not to mention a slight tinge of vanilla fragrance but I might just add more vanilla extract next time. Also, I might try this again with melted butter just to see what effect it would have on the fragrance. But overall, it turned out well. Definitely a keeper! 🙂

Steamed chocolate cake
Adapted from Recipe for Keeps’ Steamed chocolate cake recipe

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup (heaped) brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda/soda bicarbonate
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl. Add in the sugar and stir to mix well.
  2. Add in the oil and mix well. Repeat with the milk and lastly the eggs before adding in the vanilla essense and boiling water. Stir to mix well. The batter shouldn’t be too runny but thick like regular cake batter.
  3. When ready, pour the mixture into a 9″ pan that has been lined with greaseproof paper or butter. Place on top of a steamer and steam over medium heat for 45 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, steam for another 5 minutes.
  4. Once ready, remove to cool and serve as is, with ice cream or decorate with ganache or a frosting of your choice.

Steamed chocolate cake

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Chocolate chip brownies with hazelnuts

Chocolate chip brownies with hazelnuts

If you hadn’t already known, I’ll tell you now.

I don’t really fancy chocolate except when it comes in the form of desserts…but just some cakes and not even stuff like ice cream. Heck, I don’t even touch chocolate bars. I buy them but I hardly eat any; most are left for guests or friends who always enjoy it more than I do. Since Nil is not really a cake person (whereas I am), I decided to merge the best of both worlds in the form of brownies. These nearly dense yet uncake-like squares appeal to both of us; I like the edges which are “crispy” while he doesn’t mind the chewy, fudgy-like middles.

The original recipe from Simple Home Baking by Carole Clements calls for more sugar and chocolate chips but since the cooking chocolate I’m using is already sweet (and I don’t fancy drowning in sugary sweetness), I cut back on the sugar and added in some cocoa powder which helps take off a little bit of that icky oh-to-sweet taste you can get with chocolate cakes and desserts. We both like crunchy brownies and since I have some hazelnuts left, I thought I’d toss that in as well. Turned out to be a pretty good choice, I must say! The resulting brownie is still moist, rich but crunchy and just right for my sugary sweet tooth!

As with all procedures related to melting chocolate, do note that chocolate should not be cooked or melted via a direct flame but by using a bain marie; essentially, you place the chocolate in a bowl over a pot filled with simmering water. The steam rising from the water gets trapped under the bowl and generates gentle heat which will melt chocolate chunks. Cooking the chocolate with a direct flame will result in the separation of fats and cocoa in the chocolate – something that is NOT desirable!

Chocolate chip brownies with hazelnuts
Adapted from Simple Home Baking by Carole Clements

Ingredients
115 plain chocolate
115 gms butter
3 eggs
150 gms sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
140 gms all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Handful of chocolate chips
Handful of chopped hazelnuts

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and butter the sides & bottom of a 9 inch pan.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl, place on a bain marie and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter have completely melted and is smooth. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the mixture before folding in. DO NOT overbeat – it will result in a cakey brownie.
  4. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips before pouring the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until just set, about 30 minutes. Brownies should be slightly moist inside. Remove and cool in the pan. Once ready, cut and serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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Chocolate-orangey cheesecake with oat & butter biscuit base

Chilled chocolate & orange peel cheesecake with an oat-butter base

There are so many things wrong with this cheesecake that I just had to desaturate the original photo (something which I don’t do ever!) and NOT put up a recipe. Right now, I can’t say for sure that I would like to repeat this again. A waste of good mascarpone, if you ask me. =.=

While the finished result was chocolatey and very rich, no thanks to the mascarpone and 35% whipped cream, the texture was hardly smooth (my fault for not really smoothing out the mascarpone and for slightly overwhipping the cream before mixing them in together) and it was ickly too sweet for my liking (chocolate’s fault – I used bittersweet cooking chocolate from Coop with about two tablespoons of sugar for the whipped cream). Why o’ why do I have to hunt around for unsweetened cooking chocolate? Maybe being pregnant has killed a massive number of brain cells; so much so that I’m missing something…hmm…

The picture above was taken just after one hour of sitting in the fridge (I know, I know…gelatine takes a while to harden) so perhaps it would get better – texture-wise – if left to sit overnight but still, the original colour leaves much to be desired.

Overall verdict? I think I’m better off using chocolate in my cookies, muffins and cake. As for chilled cheesecake, I prefer them to be fruity rather than rich OR I’ll just stick to my Japanese Soft Cotton Cheesecake. My stomach is still churning round and round from eating just a small 6″ slice of this too-rich cake. Yes, there is such a thing as a cake being TOO rich.

*runs off to work on some life insurance quote*

🙁

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Chewy Brownies

Chewy Brownies

It has been a while since I made up something sweet and googy in the form of a cake and so after hunting around for some recipes, I stumbled across one that is agonisingly yet wonderfully sinful – chewy brownies! The recipe is fairly easy to follow yet because I’ve been out of the whole “baking sweets” action for a while, my brownies turned out to be rather soft in the middle but oddly enough, after 24 hours of sitting out on the dining table, they are now a little bit more firm. Sinfully delicious though…

Do note that chocolate should not be cooked or melted via a direct flame but by using a bain marie; essentially, you place the chocolate in a bowl over a pot filled with simmering water. The steam rising from the water gets trapped under the bowl and generates gentle heat which will melt chocolate chunks. Cooking the chocolate with a direct flame will result in the separation of fats and cocoa in the chocolate – something that is NOT desirable!

Chewy Brownies
Makes about 24

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 heaped tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
300 gms dark chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C and butter the sides & bottom of a 9 inch pan.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and cocoa powder until well-blended.
  3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a bowl, place on a bain marie and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter have completely melted and is smooth. Turn off the heat, and add in the sugar while keeping the bowl on bain marie mode. Whisk until completely combined and place aside.
  4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until mixed well. Add the remaining eggs and mix well again. Finally add the vanilla and stir. DO NOT overbeat – it will result in a cakey brownie.
    Add in the flour mixture gradually while folding it with the chocolate mixture using a spatula. Again, do not whisk or beat. Combine until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway. The cake should be ready when a toothpick is inserted and comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting them into squares.
  7. Serve as is or with a side serving of yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.
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