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cheesecake swirled brownies

Brownies are all the rage on the cooking/recipe related websites and blogs, due to its versatility and ease in the making. But cheesecake swirled brownies seem to have caught on lately, and who am I to deny the fad once in awhile? And really, cheese plus brownies… who am I to resist?!

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Over one of the weekends, my parents decided to take a trip back to Penang to visit my grandparents and family. Sadly for me, it’s the week for my thesis submission, and between scrambling to get it done and looking for a job (as I’m soon to be unemployed, no excuse of my Masters thesis to be lazing around anymore), I just couldn’t follow them. To make up for my absence though, I whipped up a batch of brownies to appease my 30 odd family members back at the island.

But then I realize I had a block of cheese sitting around in my fridge. My brain went ‘why not?!’ and the brownies were soon swirled with cheese.

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It’s not that difficult to make really, just that extra three ingredients and one additional step of stirring in the cheesecake batter, before you bake it, cool it and slice it as per normal.

My butterfingers resulted in a bit of a disaster though. I took the cake out a little bit early then I was supposed to, and when I turned it out of my silicon pan, found that the middle part of it was still a little undercooked. When I wanted to flip it back in the pan and bake it for a further 15 minutes, my fingers slipped… and half my cake fell to the ground. So what you see in the picture is half of my cake, plus the excess batter that was all out of shape due to being unceremoniously squashed, stuffed in to cupcake liners.

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But regardless, the taste was phenomenal! The cheese lended a type of moisture to the brownie that is otherwise difficult to emulate. I saved a piece for myself for dessert the next day. When heated up and eaten with vanilla ice cream… bliss. Trust you me, it’s sinful but every bite is worth the caloric indulgence.

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

Ingredients for Brownies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 6 tbsps cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsps white vinegar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Ingredients for Cheesecake

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl
  3. Pour liquid ingredients all at once with the dry ingredients, and whisk till a smooth batter forms
  4. Preheat oven to 170C, and pour brownie batter in to a greased 9/13 inch pan
  5. Leave brownie batter aside, and prepare the cheesecake batter by whisking all the ingredients together until well incorporated
  6. Dollop a spoonful of cheese in to the batter at a time, and use a fork or a knife to swirl it out. It’s okay if you prefer bigger chunks, makes for a better bite.
  7. Bake in preheated oven to 30 – 35 minutes, and cool in pan before serving cold, or warm with ice cream.

 

0

pandan kaya banana swiss roll

Swiss rolls have always fascinated me. Even as a kid, I loved cakes and chocolates and all things sweet, but swiss rolls in particular caught my eye. To me, a cake was eaten in slices, firm and crumbly as you poke in to it. So how in the world did one manage to get a cake to roll up so beautifully?

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As I grew older and understood more, I also finally got to know a whole new world that was sponge cakes, the ones that were largely made of meringue and air, which was soft, fluffy, airy and pliable.

Still, I remained very afraid to try my hand at making the rolls. Surely there was some kind of intricate technique to it right?

Well, not really. All you need is cloth, a deft hand and a whole lot of egg whites and patience. It’s  not difficult, so long as you bake the cake itself fine. Patience is needed to wait for the cake to set in its roll as you cool it within the cloth.

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Some people don’t do it, but I like to roll up my swiss roll in a cloth the moment it comes out of the oven, and let it cool to set its shape. It makes the roll much easier to roll after you spread the filling on. I also dislike the standard cream filling for store bought swiss rolls (I don’t like cream, the horror. xD), so I always improvise when I make swiss rolls.

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With leftover pandan in the fridge, I ended up making a pandan cake as my roll, and mashed up two bananas mixed in with kaya. Bananas + kaya + pandan seem to be a match made in  heaven really, they all taste so good together! So good, Domino’s in Malaysia has even made their own kaya pandan dessert pizza topped with banana slices. That’s how much we love that combination.

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It’s light and delicious, and without the oily feeling from the cream too. This time it cracked a little at the top, largely due to the cake itself being too thick, but I’ll definitely be further perfecting this recipe because this is by far my favorite type of cake.

Pandan Kaya Banana Swiss Roll

Ingredients

  • 80g all purpose flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg yolk
  • 35g castor sugar
  • 30g oil
  • 90g coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp pandan extract/paste

 

  • 4 egg whites
  • 30g castor sugar
  • 1/2 cream of tartar

For the Banana Kaya

  • 2 bananas, mashed till mildly chunky
  • 2 tbsps of kaya

Instructions

  1.  Line the sides and bottoms of a 35 x 27 x 3cm tin with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and add in oil, pandan paste, milk and flour mixture. Mix till smooth with a wooden spatula.
  4. Whip egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar and sugar, whipping until stiff peaks form.
  5. Mix meringue with egg yolk mixture, folding it in until no white streaks remain.
  6. Pour in to the lined tin and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15 minutes.
  7. Mix together the kaya and mashed banana and set aside.
  8. Take out from tin immediately when done, and invert on to a clean kitchen cloth.
  9. Roll the cake in to the kitchen cloth as shown above, and leave to set in the position.
  10. Once cool, unroll it and spread the kaya banana mixture all over the insides, and roll it up.
  11. Leave in fridge for at least one hour, before serving.
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recyclables: evaporated milk sponge cake

The start of a new series, the Recyclables! I call it such because I tend to cook meals, and end up having leftovers that I have no idea what to do with. With the inner baker in me, it really shouldn’t be surprise that more often then not, I end up using them in some form of baking or other. Take for example, this evaporated milk cake.

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Over the weekend I made carbonara for dinner for two, but was left with a small bottle of milk left. Not enough for another plate of carbonara, but with no idea what to do with it, and not wanting to waste it, I ended up making a milk cake out of it!

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I love milk, the texture and taste is divine on my tongue. But, I can’t really drink full cream milk. I seem to have developed a mild case of lactose intolerance in recent years, so I tend to stick with soy milk or skim milk, but I still veer towards  milk products when I bake. Luckily enough, those don’t effect me as much, as long as I don’t gorge on them.

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But back on the cake. It is surprisingly easy to make, with minimal washing up time afterwards, and it looks simple yet gorgeous. For a easy, tea-time cake to go with coffee or even hot chocolate, this would be perfect. It’s simple taste and fluffy texture would enhance the coffee or chocolate, and its simple enough to not taste cloying too.

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Expect more from this series in this future, as I love to use up any leftovers in the fridge to come up with… sometimes crazy concoctions.😛

Evaporated Milk Cake

Ingredients

  • 137g cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 57g butter
  • 120ml evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 170C, and line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Sift together salt, baking powder and cake flour together and set aside.
  2. Put butter and milk in a saucepan, and heat till butter is just melted, before removing from heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until combined and frothy, and gradually add in sugar and vanilla extract
  4. Beat on high speed for 6 mins, until pale and tripled in volume.
  5. Sift 1/3 of the flour over the egg, and fold with a spatula
  6. Repeat with the remaining flour in two separate additions.
  7. Heat up milk until just boil, and add in to egg batter, folding to combine.
  8. Pour in to prepared cake tin and bake in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, and invert on to wire rack to let cool completely.
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syrup bites

Sometimes the whim to start baking will hit quite suddenly, out of nowhere, and extremely unexpected. While I usually have ingredients on hand, sometimes I really will only have the most basic of ingredients around, and its difficult to make something when you’re lacking this ingredient or that.

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This syrup bites are extremely easy to make though, and use the most basic of ingredients. In fact, look around and you could probably make it right away. Syrup bites aren’t exactly a very common recipe found on the internet. I myself found it from Kimberly Cun’s blog, who in turn found it from a pretty rustic looking cookbook. And like her, I found it much like the Anzac biscuits sold during Anzac day in Australia, except with a greater fragrance from the golden syrup.

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The golden crust on top is only a hint of the delicious bites that is to come as you eat them, and you could even cheat yourself and say that its healthy! They do contain a healthy dose of rolled oats after all.

IMG_7470Dunk them in milk and they taste even better, but even by itself its not really dry. The bit of coconut flakes added in does make a whole lot of difference, as they meld well with the delicious fragrance of the golden syrup.

IMG_7469Give it a try. At the risk of sounding like I’m repeating after her, you’ll love it as much as we do. :3

Golden Syrup Bites

Ingredients

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 25g dessicated coconut
  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp fresh milk

Instructions

  1. Whisk together oats, self raising flour and coconut in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix baking soda with 1 tbsp milk until melted, and set aside.
  3. Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup over low fire in a saucepan, constantly stirring until everything has melted.
  4. Add baking soda and milk mixture in to the butter mixture. The mixture will thicken slightly upon addition for a minute more before removing from heat.
  5. Add the butter mixture in to the previously mixed flour mixture, and combine until no excess flour remains. Leave to cool for 30 minutes or until firm and cool to the touch.
  6. Preheat oven to 180C.
  7. Roll in to 24 pieces, forming balls and placing upon a lined baking sheet. Leave some space in between for expansion.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Leave to cool, before consuming either by itself or with milk.
1

easy butter raisin muffins

Butter cakes are quite easily the easiest but most versatile cakes one could bake, especially in a pinch. I was bored one Friday evening, and since I usually baked something to bring along to my Saturday morning classes (its my effort to beat Saturday morning blues for me and my friends), I was rifling through my refrigerator only to realize I had a block of butter… and not much else.

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As simple as they may look and be though, they can be deceptively delicious. If you’ve tasted one of my mother’s butter cakes before, you’ll know what I mean. They use minimal ingredients, but are capable of turning out so delicious! Provided you get the time and ingredients right of course.

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I could never do my mother’s cakes justice. Something about the way she makes them just makes it taste a tad bit better then mine, regardless of the fact that I use the exact same ingredients as she does. Maybe it’s the way she whisks it? Folds it? Or maybe she just has a whole lotta love for me when she makes it. Either way, I attempted once more to recreate her way of making butter cakes with this, but this time made it in muffin form, and added raisins.

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I have to say, the result was not satisfying. Again, not as good as my mom’s butter cake. The fragrance was there, but the texture just wasn’t as fluffy, as crumbly nor as delicious as how she makes it.

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Regardless though, it isn’t half too bad itself. The tangy bits of raisins and chocolate rice flakes I added in provided that extra lift the butter muffins otherwise lacked, and the body of the cake itself was satisfying, if not entirely. It’s simple to make in a pinch… but I still search for that one time when I’d be able to be as good as my Mom in terms of making butter cakes.

Butter Raisin Muffins

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 35g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon full cream milk
  • a handful of raisins and chocolate rice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 180C. Melt the butter over a stove.
  2. Add in sugar, and whisk until well incorporated. Removing from the heat, whisk in the beaten eggs quickly to prevent the eggs from cooking.
  3. Fold in the sifted flour, and whisk once more to ensure no lumps of flour remain. Add in the milk and vanilla essence.
  4. Add in the raisins and chocolate rice and mix well.
  5. Fill cupcake liners up to 3/4 full, and bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until set.
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pork rice dumplings | bak zhang

Happy Dragon Boat Festival everyone! It’s one of the many traditional chinese celebrations that come along with a form of food, and the food this time is the ever famous, well known rice dumplings. Over the years, many different types of dumplings have evolved from tradition, and I love the nyonya ‘zhang’ my grandmother makes. Because of age though, she rarely makes them, as well as the alkaline infused yellow coloured ‘kee zhang’, that’s usually filled with red bean paste.

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Being ambitious though, my mother decided to make a small batch of ‘bak zhang’, or pork rice dumplings this year, and I jumped on the bandwagon. For one afternoon, we stuffed the overnight soaked bamboo leaves with glutinous rice and the cooked fillings of pork, mushroom, preserved ‘lap cheong’ and salted egg yolk, before proceeding to cook the wrapped dumplings for 2.5 hours.

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Making traditional chinese food items for some reason, have never been complicated, but more arduous in process. To make the separate components of the dumplings is easy, but the putting together part requires more back-breaking work.

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The effort pays off at the end though. We had two families over for the process of making the ‘zhang’, and by the end of the 2.5 hours, all 8 of us crowded around the boiling pot eagerly, awaiting the fruits if our labor, and rightly so. My mother makes the best bak zhang’s, and I cannot wait to share this recipe with you, courtesy of my birth giver.

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The rice was delicious by itself, but the fillings made it taste even better. The mix of pork and rice texture, or mushroom in a single mouthful is delightful. And if you get the salted egg yolk in there too, even better. It’s a mix of flavors unique to chinese cooking, and part of why I love my heritage.

Pork Rice Dumplings | Bak Zhang

Ingredients for Rice

  • 1 kg long grain glutinous rice, washed and rinsed and soaked overnight
  • 3-4 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Ingredients for fillings

  • 200g shallots, peel and sliced thinly
  • 70g dried prawns, rinse and soaked
  • 70g dried chinese mushrooms, soaked till rehydrated, squeezed dry and slice
  • 500g pork belly
  • 100g preserved lap cheong
  • 8 yolks of salted egg, halved
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 4 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Other Ingredients

  • 50g bamboo leaves, cleaned and blanched, before soaking overnight
  • 25 hemp strings, soak with leaves

Insructions

For the fillings

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  1. Prepare the filling by frying shallots in oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
  2. Heat up oil and stir fry dried prawns until fragrant and golden.
  3. Add mushrooms and mix well.
  4. Stir fry pork belly cut in to chunks, with light and dark soy sauce, salt, sugar and oyster sauce.
  5. Mix the stir fried pork belly with half of the fried shallots, and stir till evenly mixed.
  6. Drizzle with a bit of water and allow it to absorb, before letting all the fillings to cool.

For the rice

  1. Drain rice, and mix remaining shallot in a clean wok and heat.
  2. Add soaked glutinous rice, and stir.
  3. Season with light soya sauce, salt, sugar, white pepper. Stir till well mixed.
  4. Transfer to a bowl.

To assemble

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  1. Overlap 2 bamboo leaves lengthways and fold in to a cone shape.
  2. Fill in 2 tbsps of glutinous rice, 5 tbsps of fillings (to your discretion), and top off with glutinous rice.

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  1. Press down to compress the dumpling, and wrap in to a pyramid shape.

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  1. Using the hemp string, tie to secure by going twice around the dumpling, and then tying a dead knot. It cannot be too loose or the dumpling will come undone midway through.
  2. Immerse the dumplings in a pot of boiling water, and let it bubble for 2.5 hours.
  3. Remove and let cool before enjoying.
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3 ingredient japanese cheesecake

Baking is tedious work, so sometimes I wonder why I find such joy in it. It’s a laborious process of measuring, chopping, shaving, sifting, whisking and double-boiling, but the results.. oh so worth it. Sometimes though, certain recipe’s only need a pinch of this or a teaspoon of that, and I end up with a lot of leftovers I have no idea what to do with.IMG_7456

The same thing happened over the weekend, when I used half a block of cream cheese to make my brother’s cheesecake jars. At a loss of what to do with the rest of the cheese, I suddenly remembered I had a block of white chocolate left from the previous time I made a birthday cake (used it for decorations only), and immediately pounced on this internet-viral 3 ingredient cheesecake.

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While the ingredients seem simple, the steps are as laborious as making your standard japanese cheesecake. The only difference is that you’re only working with three ingredients.

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Flourless and sugarless, the sweetness comes from the melted white chocolate, and honestly, its way more moist then your standard japanese cheesecake too. It’s not as tall either, but that might depend on the size of the cake pan you use. Mine was fairly big, so my cake ended up without the requisite height, but the taste was delightful. It tasted like a full fledged baked cheesecake, deliciously cheesy and crumbly.

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If you find yourself with too much leftover white chocolate (which afterall, is rarely used in baking no?), this might be a good idea for a quick cheesecake recipe.

3-Ingredient Japanese Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 120g white chocolate
  • 120g cream cheese
  • 3 cold eggs, separated

Instructions

  1. Line a cake pan of your choice with baking paper, and preheat oven to 170C.
  2. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and stir till smooth. Add in the softened cream cheese and whisk until well mixed and smooth.
  3. Take the pot off the heat, and whisk in the 3 egg yolks.
  4. Beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form, and it will not spill if tipped over. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue in to the chocolate, cheese and egg yolk mixture.
  5. Once well incorporated, add in the rest of the meringue and fold to combine.
  6. Pour in to prepared cake pan, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to 160C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Leave the cake to cool inside the oven for 15 minutes, before removing.
  8. Let cake cool completely on counter, and then refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours until firm, before serving.