Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shortcake aux Fraises

It's not quite summer yet here in California, but strawberries are starting to show up everywhere. Although, it's true that you can find fresh berries all year around in CA, but they taste best in Summer.

I had a box full of over-ripened strawberries in the fridge. I have sooo many ideas of cakes and desserts when it comes to strawberries, strawberry tart, strawberry mousse cake, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, you name it. They even look fabulous as garnish. They definitely contribute to the "wow" factor of a cake. Its vibrant red color, the fragrance, the shape, just make anything stands up among others.

I wasn't actually planning to make this cake. I just didn't want to waste the beautiful strawberries. I'm sure they'd go bad if I let them sitting in the fridge for a day or two longer. I had to use it up by using whatever I had in the fridge the other day. Since I didn't want to make something that requires multiple layers of filling, I decided to make this shortcake aux fraises, or what we would normally know as strawberry shortcake. Not the regular American shortcake, which uses shortcake as a base.

Nothing fancy, it's just two layers of vanilla chiffon cake, chantily cream flavored with Cointreau (orange liqueur), fresh strawberries, and clear neutral glaze on the top surface. I decided to decorate it like the traditional fraisier (French strawberry cake with Kirsch creme mousseline filling) decoration because I didn't have enough cream to cover the whole cake. Besides, I love this decoration. It's simple, elegant, and doesn't require much effort.


I also made chocolate leaves for the first time using fresh mint leaves. It turned out that it wasn't too difficult to do.

I get to taste the cake a couple of hours ago with my nephew. The chiffon cake was soft, with a light orange taste in the background, combined with the fresh taste of sweet strawberries. My nephew ate two slices by himself, and he doesn't normally like to eat. It doesn't have the complexity flavor of many other multilayer cakes, but yet tastes so simple and refreshing. I really can't wait for summer to come. I'm so looking forward going to farmers' market just to buy a couple boxes full of sugar-sweet strawberries. Seriously, I've never thought before that strawberries and even raspberries could be so sweet. All this time, I thought they're supposed to be tart and sour, but oh boy, what have I missed all these years. I would think twice, well maybe ten times before decided to buy berries from grocery store.

This is also my entry for the "Strawberry Seduction" event hosted by Mike. You can find the complete information about the event here.

Strawberry Seduction Logo

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

100 g cake flour
20 g cornstarch
pinch of salt
50 g sugar
75 g oil
100 g milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
50 g sugar
  • Line the base of two 9-in round pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Sift together cake flour, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until well blended.
  • Add the oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  • Mix in the flour mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar. Keep whisking until the bubbles are smaller. Add the second half of the sugar gradually and keep whisking until it reaches soft-peak stage.
  • Fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture in addition carefully so that you won’t deflate the air.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans . Tap each pan gently against the countertop to remove the excess air bubbles.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool.
Filling:
500 g heavy whipping cream, cold
4 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. Cointreau (or other orange-flavored liqueur)

Fresh sweet strawberries for filling and decoration
clear neutral glaze (optional)
  • Whip all of the ingredients until it reaches medium-stiff peak, but not dry.
To Assemble:
  • Prepare an 8.75 in round cake ring (or use smaller size) and cut the chiffon cakes to the size of the cake ring. Use cake ring only if you want to make it like the decoration in the picture. Otherwise, don't bother
  • Spread a layer of orange-flavored creme chantily and scatter the sliced strawberries on top.
  • Top with another layer of chiffon cake.
  • Cover the whole cake with the leftover cream if you prefer. Or if you want to decorate it like what I did, spread a thin layer of the filling on top of the cake.
  • Decorate all you want.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Cookies

Easter is tomorrow. I don't normally make something for every occasion, but I always get excited when special holiday or occasion is coming. That mean's that there's an excuse to make dessert or cake :). But, most of the time, although I have planned the cake I want to make, the decorations, and everything, it always ended up not baking anything. I don't know why or how, but when the day is getting closer, I'm always loaded with a lot of activities.



For Easter this year, I've been planning to make decorated easter cookies and an easter cake decorated with basketweave, bunny, easter eggs, grass, flower,..... In my mind, it looks so Easter-y. So today, I made some time to make this easter cookies with my nephew. The cookie part was fine, but when it comes to decorating it, I barely have the patience to finish all of them. I ended up decorated 80% of the cookies and threw away the leftover icing. You need to be a verrryyy patience person to be able to decorate a cookie perfectly. Me?? no, I'm not that kind of a person. As you can see in the picture, they look like cookies made by children. It's so far away from neat. I like the pastel color though.
Anyways, I don't think I will be decorating cookies like this for quite some time now

For the cake, I don't think I would have time to do it by tomorrow. My biggest concern is who would finish up the cake? I really think my friends are getting tired of all the cakes I've delivered to their door. It's only yesterday that I gave them chocolate tiramisu cake. Although, it's gone now, but still, three cakes in a week??? who wouldn't be sick of that?
I might still make it though, since I have the chocolate easter eggs and the bunny for decoration, but not today or tomorrow. We'll see
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Chocolate Tiramisu Cake

Still in the tiramisu mood, one of my friends asked me if I could make a chocolate tiramisu cake for her husband upcoming birthday. Hmm...interesing. I made chocolate tiramisu cake once, trying out a recipe about two years ago. But I've never actually made it based on the recipe that I've been using.

Since I have leftover cream that's almost expired, I thought this is the perfect opportunity to experiment :)
So, this cake consists of two layers of chocolate sponge cakes, soaked heavily with espresso-rum mixture so that it would have the same texture as soaked lady fingers. The filling is the same as the classic tiramisu, mascarpone cream filling. I just added melted bittersweet chocolate and more rum and coffee in the filling so that the flavor would be more pronounced, since chocolate is a strong flavor.

I wanted to decorate it as simple as possible, but still looks elegant, so I piped chantilly cream on the top to look like a daisy, then dust it with cocoa powder. The side is decorated with just melted chocolate that I shaped like the picture. I'm quite satisfied with the look though.

I asked my QA friends (who get to taste almost every cake I make and give me some feedback) to taste it (although it ends up that they're not only tasting it, but finishing the whole cake!!! and I only got to taste about one spoonful of the cake). The whole cake disappeared in about one night. What I found in the fridge the following day, was just an empty box sitting nicely in their fridge.
The cake was great. It tasted like a very good chocolate mousse cake. You can definitely taste the rum and there's a pretty strong espresso after taste. So, the three main flavors are definitely there, but I might reduce the amount of chocolate in the filling so that it doesn't overpower the other flavors. I can barely taste the mascarpone cheese, which is predictable considering that mascarpone cheese is so subtle and chocolate is so strong.

Honestly, I don't think that reducing the amount of chocolate would make the mascarpone tastes stronger. Whatever modification I make, this is the best flavor I can get. Tiramisu is not tiramisu anymore if you add chocolate to it. It will completely change the taste.

I like the flavor of the cake. I mean, what else could you ask for? chocolate, rum, and coffee are definitely a match made in heaven. So, considering that I'm not a big fan of chocolate and I like this cake, I think this deserves to go into my permanent recipe file.

Here's is the individual version of it

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tiramisu

I posted about tiramisu cake before, but I just realized that I've never posted the classic tiramisu. I made this dessert so often a long time ago, but only a few of them for at least the last year or so. In fact, this is the first dessert that I attempted to experiment with and finally having a recipe of my own.


It's been so long that I forgot how easy it is to make this dessert. You don't even need an oven to make this. The longest part is to let the assembled dessert rest in the fridge for a good couple of hours before serving to give enough time for the flavor to marry and the espresso to soaked deeply into the ladyfingers.

Usually, I would make it in a pyrex type container. It's quick and easy. But since I'm crazy about neatness and perfection lately (read: the last couple of years), I made it using a cake ring this time. It takes a lot longer and a lot more hassle, but it's worth it.

I want the sides to be perfectly straight and neat, but I guess I wasn't doing a great job doing it, judging from the picture above. I froze the tiramisu for a couple of hours before cutting the four sides with hot knife. I think I need to freeze it a little longer so that it's completely frozen (at least the outer edge) before trimming the sides. But, I'm pretty satisfied with the result.

I have just enough leftover mascarpone filling for one individual version. Instead of using lady fingers, I used some joconde that I kept in the freezer so that it would lined up straight with the filling. I also soaked the joconde heavily with the espresso-rum mixture so that it would have the soaked lady finger texture and the strong espresso flavor.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Durian Puffs

Another durian goodie. Made some mini durian puffs for a potluck party last weekend. This is my second attempt of making it. I made it once before using durian flesh and fresh cream, but I wasn't completely satisfied. So, I made another attempt and make a recipe for durian pastry cream or durian custard or durian vla.

Here's a closer look of the inside.

I was very happy with the result. The durian taste was so strong. I'm glad that the durian I bought was very sweet and tasty. It is the key to a great durian dessert compared to a good one.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Durian Cream Cake

Durian, The King of Fruits.
Some people would say "Yummmm", and others would say "Yucckkk" everytime this fruit is mentioned.

Me? I fall into the first category. I absolutely loveee durian. Despite some people who say that it smells like baby's dirty diaper, or some other stuff, I think it smells G-R-E-A-T!!

So, here it is, Durian Cream Cake. I made this once before, but it didn't turn out that great. The chiffon cake I used was not good and the durian wasn't really that sweet and aromatic. On the other hand, the durian I bought this time was really sweet, I almost cancelled my plan making this cake and just want to eat the custardy flesh by itself :)

Although I wasn't 100% satisfied with the chiffon cake this time (different recipe), my friends said that it was really really good. They even said that the sponge cake was good before I said anything about it. More importantly, the durian cream!. It was like almost eating a plain durian (maybe I'm exaggerating a little). I only ate a small spoonfull of the cake though. My friend eved had third in one sitting. Well, he's a big guy :)

Other than this cake, I made another Durian dessert. I don't know what it's called in English. The texture is a cross between a pudding, a custard, and something else. I personally would like it even better if it's somewhat denser, so that I can bite into it, but tastewise, it's soo duriany (if this word even exists)

I got the recipe for this blog here http://keikhouse.blogspot.com/2008/02/resep-kue-duren.html
it's in Indonesian language though
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Cream Puff Tower

I made cream puffs at least a million times before. Ok, I lied, maybe hundreds or more like 50 times? But usually, I just made them into plain rounds. Lately, I wanted to try making swan cream puffs. So, I piped the neck and the body separately.

It turned out that the necks were way too big. I mean it looked like swollen necks or diseased necks. So I threw it away. I can only save one neck that I think is "okay". Even that is a little burned :)
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Rum Balls

Rum Balls is not actually what you think (whatever it is). In Indonesia, rum balls is something we make using leftover stuff. Traditionally, it is made out of crushed biscuit, chocolate condensed milk, and rum flavoring. Then, it's shaped into rounds and rolled onto chocolate sprinkles.

Other than crushed biscuit, rum balls can also be made from leftover cake, which is what I'm using here.
Chocolate condensed milk is not common in the US, but I can find it in a small local Indonesian grocery store (although somewhat pricey). A friend asked me if I would make this for him, so I thought "why not?" since the last time I made it was at least ten years ago.

You see, in Indonesia, almost every kid would make it at least once. This is something that you would make with your kids (if you have any). When I was a little, I really think it was fun crushing, playing food with your hands, rolling in chocolate sprinkles, I mean who wouldn't? There's no recipe for this and you can use pretty much anything you like in this cute stuff. Sky is the limit.

I made this cute little balls using leftover cake I made two weeks before and left it in the freezer. Since I didn't want to bother buying the chocolate condensed milk, I use regular condensed milk. And instead of using chocolate sprinkles, I also rolled it on shredded cheese.
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Berry Cream Cakes


Here are the cake my nephew and I made with the leftover cream and joconde cake. He's my little sous chef :). After making the guava cake, I asked him if he wants to create a cake on his own (with my help of course). While I made mine with all raspberries inside, he used raspberries and blueberries for the filling. I used regular dairy cream, while he chose to use the non-dairy type. I just realized that the color of the non-dairy cream is a lot whiter than the regular dairy cream. Oh, one more thing, we both used raspberry simple syrup to moisten the cake flavored with Razzmatazz (raspberry flavored liqueur).

Pssstt...I think his looks better than mine. Ah, I should have glazed my raspberry, but I was too tired to even think about that. Oddly, I wasn't to tired to glaze his rasp., but didn't even bother with mine. I still have two big bowls of chantily cream but I threw it all away. It hurts when I saw them went down to the drain, but sacrifice had to be made.

There's no need a recipe for this. You can use any kind of sponge cake that you like, use any of your favorite berries, and sweetened whipped cream made from heavyc ream and a little sugar plus any flavoring. This is a very simple cake, yet very refreshing. It reminds me that summer is just around the corner.
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Guava and White Chocolate Mousse Cake (Shangri-La)


I made this cake for a friend who's birthday is on Feb 29th. Poor her :(. So, she only get to celebrate her real birthday once every four years. I was asked if I can make the birthday cake for her small birthday party and of course I said yes. Who would want to waste any occasion/chance/excuse to make a cake???

What came to my mind instantly at that time was a Blueberry Mousse Cake wrapped with violet striped joconde and gorgeous violet color of the blueberry and creamy white chocolate mousse in the middle, plus blueberru gelee in the middle of the cake as a surprise. But, I guess that's an aweful lot of work to do although this ides of cake has been on top of my "to-experiment" list. So, I changed my direction to another "to-experiment" list, which is guava and white chocolate mousse cake. I had guava mousse cake in a bakery called "The Extraordinary" in San Diego and another one here in Bay Area. I guess the flavor is unusual and that's what make the cake memorable. Besides, I love the color :).

I've been wanting to create the same idea of the cake, but instead of using a butter cake (which is what the two bakeries use), I'm using a light sponge cake instead because I think something as light as mousse should be paired with a light cake too. I've always thought that butter cake is heavy and dense. I tried to find guava concentrate everywhere but had no luck. So, I made my own. Using regular guava nectar, I removed the water by boiling it down until it becomes thick and concentrated. It took a while to get the consistency right. I don't even have the base recipe for white chocolate and guava mousse, so I experimented. That's why it is on "to-experiment" list :).

The white chocolate mousse turned out great although white chocolate is always too sweet for me. Next time, I would reduce the amount of white chocolate or increase the amount of cream. The guava mousse, I'm a little dissapointed. I think I didn't make anough concentrate for the amount of cream that I'm using. So, I added guava extract (which taste anything but guava to me) and it made the mousse taste somewhat artificial to me. It's not strong enough. I wish I had time to re-do the mousse, making the concentrate, etc., but it's just not worth the effort. The mousse tasted great, it's just that I can barely taste the guava. Some say it taste like candy (is it a good thing?). Anyways, that why it's called "experiment" right? I can't wait for the next time I have to remake this. I promise I would taste a lot better or should I say perfect (at least to me)?

I think the most time consuming is making the chocolate decorations. It looks easy not not much, but believe me, chocolate is pain to work with. It needs to be in the right temperature, you have to work fast before it starts to harden up, not to mention the pain of washing all of the equipments. Pheewww.... Chocolate has always been my enemy, but I keep using it for my cakes. It just looks wonderful if it's done in the right way. Practice makes perfect, it may not be right now, but we shall see :)
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Raspberry White Chocolate and Blueberry White Chocolate Cake

There were no special occasion when I decided to make these two cakes. It was simply that I have a lot of berries that I froze last year for my winter supply, but it's almost summer again, and I still have two big containers full of wonderful berries. And since my friends have been asking me to re-make the cake that I ask them to try a couple of months ago (not posted in the blog), I think this is just enough reasn (or excuse?) to make a cake (or two).

The interesting thing about this cake is the layer. Unlike the usual cake that has different layer of filling between each layer, the fillings for this cake are piped separately in alternating colors (as you can see in the picture). The cake consists of two layers of very soft and light cotton cake (similar to chiffon type cake in texture), raspberry/blueberry jelly (homemade), and also white chocolate cream cheese cream and also the clear glaze ont op of the cake. Usually, I made this cake in square shape. That way, it's easier to pipe and you can see the alternating filling on all sides. This time, I'm using a round shape cake because I had four layers of the sponge cake sitting in my freezer.

If you see the raspberry one (the top one), the red gel-like color is different from the color of the filling. You know why? I was planning to use the leftover jelly for the decoration, but I completely forgot. I threw all of the rest away and started to realize after all of them went to drain (sigh...). So, I took a little of the neutral glaze that I used and add a little of raspberry extract and hence the color. The color looks a little artificial to me, but some people even said that they like the color of it. It's just a matter of taste.

The decoration is similar between the two cakes. Well, what can I do. I've always sucked in cake decorating skill. But, it's somthing that I want to keep learning.

I can't tell you which one tastes better, is it the raspberry or the blueberry. Based on the reviews that I got, they're equally great, really. Even my little nephew and niece couldn't decide which one they like the best :)

I think I have to come up with some sort of fancier names for the cakes that I'm making so that it won't be too long. Now, I have to think another cake that would use up the rest of the berries before summer is coming.

Here's the cake I made the first time. This is the last piece that I had and I managed to take a picture of it. I didn't bother decorating it or anything since it was only the first experiment. But I was just glad to see the beautiful filling and the most important thing is, my friends rated this cake to be the best so far among many many cakes they have tried. yippee...
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Lapis Surabaya (a.k.a. Spiku)


I made this cake about a week ago. I've never made this kind of cake before but it is on my "to-make/to-try" list for quite some time now and I've been trying to make a single one of the item on that list. But strangely, the list is not getting shorter. In fact, it's getting longer and longer by day :P

So, as usual I did research first before making this cake. What is the traditional method to make this cake, what is the standard minimum egg yolk for this cake (you won't believe it if I tell you), what are the tricks and tips, etc.

I settled on one recipe out of a couple of them. This recipe requires 15 egg yolks for each layer!!!!! and usually, it consists of three layers of very moist and dense sponge type cake with the chocolate layer cake in the middle, sandwiched between two golden sponge cake.

I made the yellow layer first and since I didn't know how the batter would turn out, it failed!!!!!!!. There's a thin layer of dense and rubbery layer on the bottom of the cake. I had a feeling that this cake would failed anyway before I put it in the oven because the batter was so thick (since it's only using the egg yolks) and the butter was beaten, not melted. It was so hard incorporating the two together because both are super duper thick. Besides, it's winter and so the butter is not soft enough to be folded to the yolk mixture. So, I made another one, the chocolate one this time. I was getting a little smarter by using my KA mixer to do all the butter folding in low speed. The result was satisfying.

I started to gain confidence so the day after, I bought a couple dozens of eggs and made another golden layer. I don't want to make two layers for the golden sponge cake so I cut each cake into three parts and so I had two cakes with two yellow layer and two chocolate layer (see pictures). I sandwiched them together using blueberry jam because that's what I have on hand. Traditionally, it's using strawberry jam.

In conclusion, I'm satisfied with the result although I think it's just a tad too sweet for my taste. The texture was very soft. Next time, I would use the better quality butter. I used regular American butter. In Indonesia, the best Lapis Surabaya is made using Dutch butter called Wisjman (I might be wrong with the spelling). But since this is my first time and the Dutch butter cost three times more expensive than regular butter, so I decided to make do with just regular butter.

I wanted to type the recipe, but I'm too lazy. Maybe next time if I have time. For now, enjoy the pictures :) (I should start learning --> taking class of how to make a great picture)

Oh, one more thing. There's a story behind the name of this cake. "Surabaya" is the name of a city in Indonesia. But the term "Lapis Surabaya" is only known by people outside Surabaya, while Surabayanese (pardon my language) doesn't even know that name. It is popular by the name of "Spiku". So, most of the people in Surabaya won't even know what Lapis Surabaya cake is. Oh well, fun fact to know and tell.
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