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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going Bananas!


Living in a tropical country, what I like the most about it are the abundant of tropical fruits that we get almost all year round like pineapples, mangoes and bananas. I'm actually not a fan of desserts made with bananas like banana cakes, banana souffles and banana muffins. Nah...they just aren't for me. I find it too mushy! Although combined it with caramel, chocolate and cream, I'm willing to give it a try. :D
Banana Cream Pie just look yummy. Graham cracker crust, pastry cream, bananas, whipped cream, chocolate curls and caramel hmm..what's not to like. :D There are actually tons and tons of recipes for banana cream pie, some have mashed bananas incorporated in the cream (recipe here) and some have sliced of bananas(recipe here). Guess which process I did? Hehehe...yeah! I did the later.

I was absolutely ecstatic that mom just recently went to the market and we have a bunch of banana ready to be eaten. Honestly speaking I can't cut bananas evenly even if my life depends on it! I tried to cut them on a bias to have more surface area covered but whenever I get to the curvy part it's not on a bias anymore. Oh well, luckily they are hidden beneath a thick layer of pastry cream which hides all the flaws. That's why I love any kind of creams, although creams are very fattening! Uh-oh...... :D The pastry cream was a dream to make it was so easy and fast to do and smells so good I was ready to eat it as is! That would be something huh? Definite
I'm not sure if I used too little butter or something or I really should have waited overnight before serving this because I couldn't get a perfect slice. The pastry cream just collapse and the crust kinda crumbles so it looks like this very messy and you couldn't see the layering of bananas and the pastry cream (see pic below). Taste good though.
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Buttery Rosette Cookies

Another hot & stuffy Sunday afternoon. It's times like these that I wouldn't want to spend a long time in front of the hot oven and what better way to do that is to make these Buttery Rosette Cookies, adapted from Flo Braker's newest book Baking for All Occasions.

This is the first time I have ever made a butter cookies and this is also the first time that I have ever made something that was Flo's recipe and first time I made cookies WITHOUT any eggs and leavening. I was actually hesitant to try it first specially the fact that it seems like the ratio of the dry ingredients were way too much for the small amount of butter that was called for. But in the end I have decided to give it a whirl, which is great because they turn out soft, buttery and delicious. And I must admit it was actually fun piping all those rosettes, It was a nice practice on my pipping skills.

So far I'm liking this new book of hers, the instructions are very long but very precise, you wouldn't make a mistake as long as you've read it carefully. What I like the most about this is the ingredients are in THREE types, you can use cups, ounces and grams! Woohoo! most of the baking books that I see and own usually just have the ounces and the cups, so have to convert the ounce into grams which I find very tedious. Yeah, I'm trying to practice baking by weights so as to be more accurate but my weighing scale is in grams.

Can't decide what I should try next!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheesecake Experiment

Next to chocolate, I think cheesecakes comes close as my second favorite dessert. I like my cheesecake baked, rich and creamy. I have this recipe which I have been using for quite sometime now, but for some reason after watching Tyler's Ultimate for more than I can count. I finally decided to take his advice and put sour cream within the batter itself instead of what I always do of just topping them on a baked cheesecake. This sour cream version definitely is a keeper.

More often than I care to admit, making cheesecake always tried my patience, I don't often get to have that smooth silky mouth feel. My previous cheesecakes are good but very dense, which is not bad but the silky texture of this cheesecake is much better. I took the time of softening the cream cheese for atleast an hour in room temp., because from what I observe through the years of making cheesecake our local cream cheese tends to be harder than the Philly kind so hence more time in softening. I also took the time in creaming the 2 bars of cream cheese alone hoping to avoid those unwanted lumps. I even add the room temp. eggs incorporating them one at the time unlike what I use to do of just dumping them all at one. I think what made the difference is that I strained the cream cheese mixture as I pour it into the graham cracker lined pan to remove all the lumps.
I baked it NOT in a bain marie but straight in the oven with a bowl of water underneath to make it moist. I just could make myself buy a roasting pan just so I could make a cheesecake. My mom doesn't use my oven because she has no patience in roasting stuff in it. She said it took A LOT of time and it's not her thing. Hopefully I could find a cheaper alternative to a roasting pan. I used to use my 9 x 3 baking pan however it leaks so water goes everywhere in my oven, just way too messy. With that being said the putcome of the top of the cake is not pretty it's wrinked! yeah you read it right, wrinkled! not cracked but wrinkled like a sharpei!

Wrinkled top aside my other problem was that I pressed my graham cracker crumbs too high since I was actually expecting a TALL cheesecake like what Tyler Florence did in his Ultimate Cheesecake but I didn't get that. That's why I have that graham crackers on top of the cheesecake because after baking, I knocked all the excess crust down, creating a frame around the blueberry topping making it look more rustic and homey looking. Gimme! Gimme!

Come to think of it this cheesecake doesn't have any sugar in it! Err...wait except I think from the blueberry topping. Anyway so it's almost a Sugar Free Blueberry Cheesecake. In the end all that work really boils down to one thing.

Does it taste good? In a word... Yeah!

It's creamy, silky and light doesn't taste like my other baked cheesecake, it taste even better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SERIOUS Brownies

When I first read this blog from King Arthur Flour, I was excited to make this luckily, I have tons of cocoa powder available here. This brownie is indeed the SERIOUS Brownie because of it's intense chocolate flavor which amazingly you'd acheive with just cocoa powder. That's what I call amazing! I have often see recipes which called for melted chocolate mix in with the brownie batter and such to make it richer, which is great. But when I want to have that brownie fix immediately, I wouldn't bother melting chocolates, just cocoa powder and presto! the brownies are done and ready to eat.
The original KAF recipe are the plain ones just pure chocolate heaven, excellent for the purist. I happen to accuare the affinity for nuts, more specifially walnuts. Thank heavens that walnuts are as readily available here in Manila, a bit expensive but available. I roughly chopped about a cup and half of walnuts and generously spread them in the batter along with some chocolate chips, feeling more decadent, I even studded the brownie batter with more walnuts.
Although this brownie doesn't look like the ones PJ from KAF made, I'm very happy with the result. The top has a crisp crust while the insides stays gooey, the chocolate chips made it more chocolatey (if that possible with this recipe) and the walnuts added that awesome crunch. Man oh man, these are definitely good and a must try.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Busy Bee

During the past three months I've been busy buying books that are on sale and some are used like the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, this one I got from Lori of Dessert Comes first when she held a sale for her old cookbooks, I was actually eying 2 from her list this one and Doree Greenspan's, however, some lucky person got it it first. My most recent addition are: Baking from All Occassion, King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, The Big Fat Cookie Cookbook and The Chocolate Chip Cookbook.

As you can see from my pile that I've got a lot of reading to do, what I'm most excited about is the
Baking for All Occassions by Flo Braker this I believe id her third book but this is the first book I have of hers and I've read so much good reviews about it. I was actually looking for her first book The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, but the bookstore didn't have it. Oh well, I have bunch of books that will tide me over for months hopefully.

See ya!
Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hello! Summer!

Summer is officially here! Time for beaches and ice cream to cool things off. I'm not really a big fan of beaches, but ice cream??? I love eating ice cream especially during days like today where the sun is out and hot, nothing cools you off faster than a yummy ice cream sandwich. What makes this ice cream sandwiches much special is the fact that they are homemade.
These are Chocolate Chip Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich. I like making ice cream because I get to see what gets put in the ice cream. It's creamier and in this case I get to use my favorite chocolates in this case they are Hersheys. I can't wait to get a copy of this book. They were messy to make but definitely worth all that trouble.
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rootbeer Bundt Cake

I remember the first time I had root beer. My family and I were having lunch and our dessert was a mug full of root beer float at A&W restaurant back then, sadly now that restaurant has closed. No more root beer floats for me, now I just make my own which is very good during our hot tropical summer. It's basically natural that when I happened to see this recipe in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's new book titled Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, I knew I have to give it a try.

This is the second recipe I tried in this book, the first one I made was this. Like the first one, this is an easy recipe to follow the instructions are very accurate and easy to understand. To be honest when I started to make this last night, I was kind of scared because when I mix the cocoa powder with the root beer it started to bubble up and got a bit groopy looks like a thick mud! I know not a pretty site to see. I know this sounds weird however as I was making the batter, I kept smelling it! Awesome! Root beer in a cake! The batter came out a bit more liquidy than what I'm normally used to but I persevered and kept my fingers crossed!


This cake definitely smells and looks differently from other chocolate cakes I ever made before. The house didn't smell like hot chocolate until 10 minutes before the baking time is over. I love the fact that it's very moist with all the root beer that went in with the batter. The frosting itself is a dump all no fuss frosting but is really too sweet for my taste even after I lessen the amount of sugar the recipe called by half. So I just put a small amount frosting on top of the cake, I have about half the recipe left over in the fridge. Have to think of what to do with those.

Taste? it taste different like there's some liquor in it because of the root beer but it's not over powering, which is good. This recipe is definitely a keeper.