Monday, December 22, 2008

Onion Flowers

These elegant onion flowers are sitting in my living room now, and I can't resist taking a photo or two to capture their beauty. They last well too, I've gotten them 3 days ago and they look just as fresh as they were on day 1.

Very happy to find a florist near my place. It's run by a cheery chatty old gentleman. Somehow in Hong Kong, people manage well with small spaces. He runs his shop in a meter-wide lane between 2 buildings. It's feels like treasure hunting during flower shopping. ^__^

Friday, December 5, 2008

Coffee Truffles - Tribute to Cee

Unveiling... *drumroll*


I have to thank Cee for the start of my home chocolate making venture. It's been months since I left off. After moving to a new city and bad bouts of morning sickness the past few months, I'm finally ready to hit the kitchen again.

She brought me 3kg of Manjari all the way from Singapore! I've never worked with this dark chocolate from Valrhona before, and it's a going to be lots of experimentation with this new flavor. Manjari has a very light and refreshing taste with sourish notes.

The first batch of chocolates from this bagful is coffee truffles. Cee has something for her coffee, be it a wake-me-up in the morning, caffeine-high in the office at 2 pm, or an after-dinner dessert. Just pure addiction for her. I think she would have love them if she could try some. Till we meet again in January, I can only dedicate these truffles to her for now!


For this batch, I used:

- 350g of Manjari
- 250 ml of heavy/whipping cream
- 40g of butter (cubed)
- 40g of sugar
- 4g of instant coffee

1) Half melt the chocolate in a double boiler. (Some work with unmelted chocolate pieces. I use buttons too, but I find that many times, I cannot emulsify properly and get lumps or a grainy texture when I work with unmelted chocolate. Some chefs work with melted chocolate. I wonder what works for you?)
2) Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and coffee. Stir till sugar and coffee granules are melted, and cream comes to a boil.
3) Pour cream over chocolate.
4) Stir mixture slowly. (A chocolate chef once told me to stir from in to out, meaning you work the chocolate from the center of the bowl and then outwards, in small and widening circular motions.
5) Add butter cubes slowly, a few cubes at a time.
6) Continue to stir till mixture is well emulsified.
7) Pour into a 8" square tray.
8) Let mixture cool till room temperature before putting the tray into the refrigerator. (Please be sure to wrap with plastic wrap, as chocolate takes on odors very easily.)
9) Leave overnight (or enough time to ensure a hard ganache to be cut into pieces.)
10) Cut into desired dimensions.
11) Coat or dust with cocoa powder.
12) Keep refrigerated! These truffles are not coated with tempered chocolate and do not keep well w/o refrigeration!


- I like it a lot, but would have liked it more if it were to be more milky. The acidity and aromatic "roastiness" of coffee complemented with the sourish, refreshing notes of Manjari but it left too strong an aftertaste for me. But it's just me. It's just like how some people would add milk to their coffee, and some would never have anything else but black.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sorry for the MIA!

Been busy, been lazy, had not been baking, had not been making chocolates, had not been myself! And it's for months. I've recently moved to a new city, and yes, besides being homesick and sick of unpacking, I haven't figured out where to get ingredients from! Cranky, grouchy and simply out of sorts. Did they tell you baking could be therapeutic?

I guess, when I can't stand it any longer, I would be doing Betty Crocker's brownies to get started. Speaking of which, I even messed up a BC brownie years ago when I just started baking. I accidentally switched my oven to grill mode and set the top of the brownie on fire! I jumped up and down on the kitchen floor, took the brownie tray out, and quickly slammed shut the oven door. Really didn't want to panic the smoke detector (Mom) and be banned from the kitchen forever. Haha...

Will still be missing in action for a while. Hope to be forgiven by Spatula, Whisk, Oven & Mixer. Hope to be back with a vengeance...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Chocolates seem to make me popular...

Haha... terrible blog title I know! Like all food bloggers or foodies would know, food unites. If there is something more I can add for chocolate, it's "Chocolate DELIGHTS".

It seems truffles have brought me some new friends, and have given me very good reasons to meet up with old ones. I enjoy packing things neatly, and adorning them with a simple ribbon; Nothing pleases me more when what's inside is edible. Sometimes I wonder if I have baked cookies and rolled truffles so I can package them and give away as presents? (and not really to eat them myself?) Nonetheless, the effects of my interests seem to have helped me break out of my sometimes-prolonged bouts of anti-social behavior, and I am happy I did. K. sent me a lovely test message telling how much the bag of truffles brighten her day. That text message brightens up mine too. :)

I met up with W. for coffee because he had long been a loyal guinea pig (well, I hope he no longer feels so...), and I wanted him to try this new recipe. Maybe W. (and E. and A.) didn't enjoy it, have not heard from him. It's okie! I think meeting up for coffee was the real deal.

Haha... silly post, I hope I'm the only one reading it! ^__^

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Truffles Au Cocolat

Beautifully rich and austere, these truffles turned out lovely. I didn't quite know what to expect actually. Having made dozens of batches of truffles with cream, I found myself drawn to Alice's recipe (she has gotten the recipe from her landlady years back in 1973) in this book, which uses egg yolks and boiling water to emulsify with butter and chocolate. An "authentic and virually obsolete" recipe, I knew it was THE recipe to try (was my birthday actually, so I just had to try something different).

Pleasant pleasant surprise! The ganache turned out smooth and rich, definitely less creamy (but still as creamy? arrgghhh, I don't know how to describe that melting-on-the-tongue intense feeling). The best part was, the recipe didn't ask for a coating of tempered of chocolate! Woohoooo! Just the run-and-go kind of recipe I needed for that rushed afternoon in the kitchen. I came back 5 hours later to roll them out, half of them plain, and the other half with some Les Perles Croquantes (Valrhona chocolate pearls). I love some texture in the truffles but I find most nuts overpowering. These crunchies are a wonderful complement to the plain truffles. Not my first time making crunchy truffles actually!

As with all other batches, this is yet again too much for myself and S. to finish. I usually like to consume the truffles within 2 weeks, or it'll end up untouched beyond 14 days. I can't tell you how much chocolates ended up in the bin previously, and I feel horrible horrible throwing them away. (terribly wasteful, which eventually made me stop baking/chocolate making for a while). But now that I vowed to finish or give away everything I make or bake while they are still fresh before I start on another baking/chocolate projects, I have been conscientiously meeting up with friends and eating. Maybe I should vow to exercise too? (hahaa.... better not commit to something I have never really started doing...)

I made S. bring a whole tray full of truffles to his colleagues, I hope they enjoyed it! If not I'll be known as Miss Truffle-Shuffler-Into-Your-Face.

Some pictures from the process:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Early Valentine

I know it's a month away, but I have baked these heart shaped cranberry white tea cookies months ago, and kept the photos in my hard disk for the longest time before they are allowed to unveil on a .com.

Cliche cookie cutter for Valentine's Day, but tried as I had, no other shape pleases more than a heart shaped one for this special day. I remember old school times when classmates gave out tiny bears, pink cards, heart shaped balloons to one another. Shy boys love to pick this sometimes not too auspicious day to confess their long kept secrets. Anonymous notes get passed around in lecture halls. Roses stuffed into bags. While I was never part of this romantic chain of melody in school days (blame the geeky specs and very bad haircut), my girlfriends and I have enjoyed hanging out on this day, often purposefully making sure we be out some where and not at home (now I wonder why?). Like Christmases, new Years and birthdays, February 14th brings happy memories of great company from old friends.

If you are baking for friends, family or a secret crush (hush hush), get a heart shaped cookie cutter. Shape them into a lucky clover (secret crush will find it more discreet).

I'll be baking for some friends, and will offer some for sale if I can manage. I do advise that you bake some yourself though, it really means a whole lot more! Enjoy ~~~

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A sweet goodbye to 2007...

It was a loved one's birthday on 31st Dec, someone very special. Special people get special gifts (argh, always tough to go shopping with such a objective.) I can't think of anything else except for something handmade or a big fat bag of cash. Since I can't quite afford the latter, I decided on a handmade bouquet (no oven, no chocolate making tools, no penknife, no paper, no fabric, no sewing machine in this situation). It's got to be an auspicious colour (sort of decided on pink).

I can't decide if the posy turned out well; It looked quite fine to me, but certainly not roundish like the rest of the wedding posies I have seen. Maybe I should go for floral arrangement classes or work at a florist's. Always dreamt of having a floral shop with country style decor and whimsical looking furniture and huge glass door. (sorry I got distracted again...)

I guess this kind of wraps up 2007. A year for new things, discoveries of hidden passions, loads of hands on, random acts from compulsive behavior and most importantly, a time to dream. I don't know what 2008 would entail, but I'm certainly hoping there would be enough time to bake and craft. I am en route to making the best dark chocolate cookies ever (evil grin), and when that happens, oh yes when it happens... I'll be posting and raving about it! Wish me luck!