Friday, February 3, 2012

Chinese New Year Cookies Galore

Hello! It's been some time since I've updated this blog. I've been away to my Hubby's hometown to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival with my in laws. It was good catching up with family members, old and new. Now that the celebrations are over and I'm back to my usual routine ....and also couple pounds heavier, I'm happy to have finally found some time to blog again. 

Here are some pics of the Chinese New Year cookies I've made.

I was going to pass making pineapple tarts this year but a trip to the market changed my mind. Pineapples were just so abundant and very fresh. Besides, Chinese New Year just wouldn't feel complete without some homemade pineapple tarts. I tried out a new pineapple tart pastry recipe from an old magazine and I'm happy to say I found THE one! For now that is. Until I find a better one, this recipe is what I'll be sticking to.  I like how the texture of the pastry is very short, buttery and milky tasting. It didn't leave that awful floury aftertaste like other recipes I've tried.  I suspect cornflour might be the culprit. This because all the recipes which had the floury taste had cornflour. Just my thought. What do you think?

Pineapple Tarts

180g unsalted butter, softened
70g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
300g all purpose flour
50g milk powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Pineapple Jam Filling:
Recipe here

1) Beat butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until fluffy and light. Sist the flour and milk powder together, and stir into the creamed butter. Add in beaten egg, mix until dough comes together. Cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours until the dough is firm.
2) Preheat oven 170C. Divide into balls and wrap in the pineapple filling. Roll into balls and insert a clove on top each balls. Brush with beaten egg.
3) Bake 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool completely and store in airtight container.

Note: I was too lazy to  make balls and made rolls instead. I made a couple pieces of balls and they were really good, better than the rolled ones I must say.  I like how the pastry is nice and thin and evenly distributed, enrobing the pineapple filling. Make the balls if you're not lazy. It's worth the effort.

Utterly rich and artery busting, not for the health conscious! Hence, this is only a once-a-year affair. My Daughter G absolutely loves these balls.

Crispy crunchy Walnut Cookies
Recipe here.
Added chopped walnuts instead of almond.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Festive Year End 2011

Wow, it's 2012 already!!! Where have I been? This past few weeks had been a blur. There were just so many things to do with the year end festivities. I had been busy baking up a storm for friends and family and squeezing in last minute Christmas shopping. And with the starting of the new school term, more shopping for school supplies ans stuffs for my Daughter G. My Daughter G is now a secondary school student.  I can't believe I'm now a mother of a teenage girl! Between all that and the running of errands and chores, Chinese New Year is now upon us! Phew, how time just zipped by! Anyway, here are a few pics of the Christmas celebration and some of the bakes I made.

The Christmas dinner we stuffed our face with. Mom's obligatory roast turkey. Christmas is just not christmas without a turkey. Juicy, moist and utterly flavourful and delicious. Turkey aside, Mom also made buttered brussel sprouts and carrots with bacon bits. The rest of the dishes were made by me. Salmon wreath, roast potatoes and yule log cake.

Smoked salmon wreath with cream cheese and herbs filling inside. Inspired from a dish featured in the Good Housekeeping Magazine Christmas Collection 2011 edition.

My first ever yule log cake. It's pretty easy to make. Just a swiss roll with whipped cream filling and chocolate ganache frosting.

Mincemeat apple tart.

Chocolate cake

Mango Yoghurt Cake.


Mom's birthday on boxing day. I made a simple sponge cake with whipped cream and mango filling with fresh strawberries on top.


Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.

We celebrated the new year with Durian Mousse Cake. Durians are seasonal and crazy expensive and this is a luxurious treat.  This is also the first durian cake I've ever made. I know it's very late, but here's wishing all a Happy and Blessed New Year!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vanilla Yoghurt Buttercake

This recipe is a keeper. You know it's a keeper when you've substituted an  ingredient and it still works.  Here I've substituted milk with yoghurt. This was out of necessity really as I've ran out of milk. It turned out beautifully, moist and tender.  The yoghurt also added a bit of a tang and gave it a lift. Really yummy!

My Daughter G couldn't stop eating this cake. Not to toot my own horns, I think this yoghurt version tastes even better than the original one. My dear Hubby on the other hand loves the orginal version. Well, to each his own!

Vanilla Yoghurt Buttercake
(Recipe adapted from Simple Indulgence)

150g unsalted butter, cut into cubes at room temperature
100g castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
125ml plain yoghurt
175g cake flour
1½ tsp baking powder
3 egg white
40g castor sugar

Original recipe uses milk instead of plain yoghurt.

Grease and line a 7” round cake pan with parchment paper.
Pre-heat oven at 200°C.


  1. Sift the cake flour and baking powder together into a bowl.
  2. In a mixing bowl,  put in the butter and 100g of sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time  and beat until it is incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract.
  4. At low speed, add in one third of the flour mixture and one third of the plain yoghurt alternately until done. Stop once mixture is well blended.
  5. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg white and 40g castor sugar until stiff. It's ready when the bowl is overturned and the egg white stays put.
  6. Fold in the egg white into the yolk and flour mixture until well blended. The batter may look a little curdled.
  7. Pour out the batter into the cake pan lined with baking paper.
  8. Reduce temperature to180°C - 190°C  and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Remove cake from oven and  place it to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before unmoulding. After unmoulding, remove the baking paper and leave to cool completely.

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Pumpkin Cupcakes

    Here's another cupcake recipe adapted from the delightfully sweet Primrose Bakery's 'Cupcakes' cookbook. This time I chose Pumpkin Cupcakes. I just love to incorporate veggies in my bakes. It makes me feel less guilty and a little wee bit 'healthier'.

    These cupcakes were nicely moist and soft. I left them unfrosted as I didn't want to add in extra calories. I bet they would've been even better with a creamy velvety cream cheese frosting. Ah, if only my ever expanding thighs permit!

    So far  the Primrose Bakery 'Cupcakes' cookbook have yet to dissappoint. I've tried 2 recipes, the Malted Cupcakes (Milo Cupcakes) and this Pumpkin Cupcakes. Both turned out satisfactorily moist and tender. But they may be a tad too sweet and you may need to adjust the sugar to suit your tastebud. I've reduced  the sugar for the pumpkin recipe below.

    Pumpkin Cupcakes
    (Adapted from Primrose Bakery  'Cupcakes' cookbook) 

    (makes 12 regular cupcakes)

    • 110g butter  
    • 200g soft light brown sugar 
    • 2 large eggs 
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
    • 100g pureed pumpkin 
    • 125g self-raising flour
    • 120g plain flour
    • 1 tsp mixed spice
    • 125ml buttermilk (or 120ml water mixed with 2 tbs buttermilk powder)

    1. Cream butter and brown sugar with an electric hand whisk until pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, add vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.  Then add pumpkin and beat until just combined.
    2. Combine and sift  self-raising flour, plain flour and mixed spice in a bowl.  Add 1/3 of the flours to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.  Add 1/2 the buttermilk and beat again, then repeat these steps until all the ingredients have been added.
    3. Spoon the mixture into 12  cupcake cases, filling them to about 2/3 full.  Bake at 180 C for about 25 mins until slightly raised and golden brown.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes in their tins for about 10 mins before cooling on a wire rack.

    I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Baker's #13: Enjoy Cupcakes! (November 2011) hosted by Min of Min's Blog.

      Monday, November 21, 2011

      Milo Cupcakes

      We, especially Malaysians & Singaporeans grew up drinking Milo. It is a staple breakfast drink in most households and is served  in all coffee shops. If you're reading and wondering what Milo is, it is actually a brand name of a chocolate malted drink. Heard of Ovaltine? But Ovaltine somehow is not as popular as Milo. 

      Instead of drinking that mug of Milo, how about eating one for a change ... a Milo cupcake? I made these Milo cupcakes the other day just for this month's  Aspiring Baker's cupcake theme. I used a recipe adapted from the Primrose Bakery Cupcakes cookbook and frosted them with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  These Milo cupcakes were soft and moist and very Milo-y. Yummy!  One little issue though, the crumb stuck to my teeth everytime I took a bite! I'm wondering whether this is because I've added too much Milo? The original recipe ask for half the amount I used. Hmmm .... anybody knows why?      

      Milo Cupcakes
      Recipe adapted from Primrose Bakery Cupcakes cookbook

      110g butter, softened
      120g soft brown sugar 
      100g caster sugar
      2 large eggs
      125g self raising flour
      60g cake flour
      100g Milo powder
      125ml milk
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      1 tbs heavy cream


      1. Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
      2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and smooth. 
      3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing into the mixture between additions. 
      4. In a separate bowl, sift and combine together the flours and Milo powder.
      5. Mix the milk together with vanilla extract and heavy cream.
      6.  Add 1/3 of the flour to the creamed butter/sugar mixture.  Beat well until combined. Then, add 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat again.  Repeat this step until the last of the flour and then the last of the milk, beating well between additions. 
      7. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.  Fill about 2/3 full. 
      8. Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
      9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes. 
      10. Then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack. 

      I bake the cupcakes in small size muffin tins and yielded 28 cupcakes which took 20 minutes to bake.

      Swiss Meringue Buttercream
      (Recipe adapted from Table for 2 or more)

      2 egg whites
      100gm sugar
      170gm unsalted butter, lightly softened


      1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and temperature has reached 65C. The mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Remove from stove.
      2. Pour meringue into a mixing bowl. Beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes.
      3. Now add in add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Mixture will be soupy and maybe curdled. Do not worry. It will come together nicely in the end. Carry on beating on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, approximately  6-10 minutes. 

      I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Baker's #13: Enjoy Cupcakes! (November 2011) hosted by Min of Min's Blog.

      Saturday, November 12, 2011

      Fudgy Wudgy Okara Brownies

      If I don't tell, you probably wouldn't have known these fudgy wudgy brownies contain okara. Okara is a by product of soy beans, the pulpy mass leftover from straining soy bean milk. If you make soy bean milk at home, don't throw the okara away. Make these and you'll be glad you've saved it!

      Well, my Daughter obviously didn't suspect a thing. She enjoyed the brownies so much and even helped herself to seconds. If only she knew. But she did! I accidentally leaked out the 'secret ingredient' while talking to dear Hubby. This fazed her a little but she soon  forgotten about it and reached out for the leftovers. Really, these brownies don't taste beany at all and it's really quite hard to believe they contain okara! Hehehe! Who would have thought something so good and healthy can be so yummy (in the form of a brownie of course!).

      After much browsing and researching, I decided to use a vegan recipe from Vegan Feast Kitchen as it seems to be quite a popular one where okara brownies are concerned. Being a vegan recipe, it calls for egg replacement glop and for non-vegans like me this is really quite unheard of! So I used REAL eggs instead, and REAL butter in place of the Earth Balance which is actually margarine.   

      Here it is, the recipe, de-veganised (if there's such a word!).

      Makes 14 cupcake squares 


      4 Eggs
      2 cups Brown sugar
      3/4 cup, packed well-squeezed Okara (soybean pulp from making soymilk)
      4 oz (1/2 cup) melted Butter
      1/4 cup Water
      2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
      1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
      1/2 cup plain white flour
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
      1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or other favorite nuts) 

      1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a 12 hole square muffin pan with cupcake liners.
      2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs together with brown sugar until thick and foamy. Add vanilla, water, melted butter and okara. Combine well.
      3. In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Sift  into the wet mixture. Fold and stir briefly, just to blend. Do this in batches. Fold in the nuts.
      4. Scrape the batter into the prepared muffin pan until almost full and bake for about 40 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

      1. Baking time is just a guideline . Your oven may need less or more time. 
      2. If you prefer, use a 9 inch square baking pan and line with non-stick parchment paper (with over hang on the sides for easy removal). Bake for about 50 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack. Do not cut until the brownies are cool. You can lift the whole thing out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.

      Wednesday, November 9, 2011

      Homemade Soya Bean Milk

      I've always thought making homemade soya bean milk is a difficult process and that you must own a soya bean milk maker machine to do the job. How wrong was I! If you have a food processor and a muslin/cheese cloth, you're good to go. It's really not difficult at all, just a little tedious and messy. That's what's  great about blogging. I learn new things all the time. Though making homemade soya bean milk is nothing new to most Asian homecooks to shout about, it is a big deal for a noob cook like me.  I can now proudly say I make my own soya bean milk from scratch! Haha!

      To make soya bean milk, first you need to soak the beans overnight. The beans will swell to double its size. Rinse and drain and then place in the food processor. Add water just enough to cover the beans and blend. Squeeze and strain out using a muslin/cheese cloth. Put the strained pulp back in the food processor, add water to cover and blend again. This is to extract as much milk from the beans as possible. Strain soya bean milk into a pot, slowly bring to the boil while stirring regularly. Skim off any foam. Let it gently simmer for 10 minutes. That's it! Homemade soya bean milk.  Thick and creamy and nothing like what you get from outside. You can add as much or as little sugar to your liking and even flavour the milk with pandan leaves. If you prefer a less thick soya milk, just thin it down with more water. Drink it warm or cold as you like. How great is that huh?

      One thing to note. While cooling the soya bean milk, it will form a layer of 'beancurd sheet' on top. Do not try to stir it in the milk like what I did. You'll end up with clumpy milk.  Just gently scrape it away. Discard the beancurd sheet or you can dry it and save for another use, but I've not tried that.  You also need to strain the soya bean milk  to get rid of any bits of beancurd sheet that might be left. For the smoothest texture, strain and strain again if you must. Store the soya bean milk in the refrigerator if you can't finish within the day its made. I've kept it for a couple of days and it was still okay.

      Go here for the recipe and  detailed step by step method. I used 250g soya beans and that yielded somewhere  between 1 1/2  to 2 litres of soya bean milk.
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