Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Baked matcha swirl cheesecake

Hey guys , how's your holiday so far ? Hope it is as relaxing as mine ......

I made this matcha cheesecake on Christmas Day but actually took photos of it after a day of procrastinating tsk tsk !

Anyway , not my best looking cheesecake to date but certainly the most delicious ! Cracks at all sides , obviously cramming more than 700 grams of cheesecake batter in a 6-inch square pan is a no-no . Or maybe I should have lowered the temperature a bit *sigh*

I used homemade creme fraiche in this cheesecake instead of the usual sour cream . Creme fraiche is a bit expensive here and I found this recipe a long time ago from one Dorie Greenspan book . It was pretty easy to make but you need to prepare it , about 2 days , beforehand . You can always use Greek yogurt or plain yogurt but you need to drain it to get rid of some of the whey . 

If you don't want any more fuzz , you can forego the topping and eat the cheesecake as is but any homemade cherry or strawberry ( festive color ! ) sauce is really delicious paired with this cake . In my part , I need to get rid of some of my white chocolate and decided to make a ganache . I was supposed to pipe it but it's winter in this side of the world , not cold but more of a chilly weather , the ganache sets very fast and I had a hard time piping them . Instead of a pretty Hershey's Kisses-like shaped that I envisioned , they look more like a poop-shaped lol The shape looks so ridiculous so I just rolled them into small balls .

This cheesecake is as always pretty easy to make as all of the my cheesecake posted on this site . I wrote the instructions as detailed as it can be , okay , more step by step photos would be nicer ha !

If you're looking for an easy yet scrumptious cheesecake for this coming New Year's celebration , look no further ! 

For the crust :

150 grams Biscoff biscuits ( or any biscuits you like ) , crushed into fine crumbs 
40 grams butter , melted and slightly cooled 

* Mix both ingredients and press into a ( lightly grease and line the bottom with baking/parchment paper ) 6-inch loose-bottom square or round pan , ideal pan size should be 7-inch and 8-inch is nice but the filling is not so thick .

* Freeze until needed . 

For the filling :

300 grams cream cheese , at room temperature 
100 grams granulated sugar
250 grams *homemade creme fraiche or store-bought
2 large eggs , at room temperature 
12 grams Uji matcha powder or any green tea powder you have on hand 

* Preheat oven to 160ºC , if using a 6-inch pan , lower to 145ºC ( I know , I know ! ) . Place a roasting tin at the lowest rack of your oven 

* Prepare a pot of hot water for the water bath .

* Combine cream cheese and sugar , beat at medium speed using an electric hand mixer for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy . Add in the creme fraiche and beat for 1 minute. 

* Add in the eggs , one at a time and beat on low speed for 30 seconds each . Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed . Take out 1 1/2 cups of the cheesecake batter and transfer into another bowl  then sift in the matcha powder and mix on low speed until well combined . 

* Drop the plain and matcha cheesecake batter , alternately , into the prepared pan and use a skewer to make a swirl on the batter . Tap the pan on the surface several times to get rid of the bubbles on the batter .    

* Pour hot water in a roasting pan and place the pan ( with cheesecake in it ^_^ ) one rack above it . This way you don't have to use a foil to cover the bottom of the pan and no water will seep inside the cheesecake while baking .

* Bake cheesecake for 30-35 minutes , at 160ºC , if using an 8-inch pan , 150º if using a 7-inch pan  , for 40 minutes and 145ºC for a 6-inch pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until cheesecake is set at the side but still jiggly at the center . 

* Open oven door slightly ajar and leave cheesecake inside for an hour or 2 . Take out from the oven and gently ran a knife at the sides of the pan . Let cheesecake cool in a pan on a wire rack completely before putting in the fridge to chill overnight ( at least 8 hours ) , uncovered . 

* Unmould cheesecake and transfer it to a serving plate or cake stand or just cut it straight from the pan . Serve with any toppings you prefer . 

For the homemade creme fraiche : 

250 ml cream 
1 tablespoon butter or plain yogurt 

* Place cream and buttermilk or yogurt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake for 1 minute or so . 

* Leave the mixture at room temperature to thicken , 12 to 24 hours , depending on the warmth of your kitchen/place . Chill in the fridge for 1 day before using . If you see some whey or the mixture separates , just stir it and it'll be fine .

For the matcha-white chocolate ganache topping : 

200 grams Guittard white chocolate chips 
50 grams whipping cream 
3 grams Uji matcha 

* Combine chocolate and cream and place bowl on a pan of barely simmering water . Stir mixture from time to time until melted then sift in the matcha , stir until well combined . Let cool slightly before using . During winter it takes less than 10 minutes for the mixture to set especially if the amount is not that much but during summer when it's hot , say 30ºC , it'll take longer . 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dandan noodles

Hi guys , how's the weather in your side of the world ? Still warm ? Yeah , here , too ! It's November and we got a high of 30ºC yesterday *sigh*

Crappy weather aside , I began my soup season few weeks ago though I had to use the fan to cool my soup before scarfing it hee hee !

Anyway , here's another dandan noodle recipe that I found while browsing the Chinese cookbook section at the library . I thought this would be the recipe almost similar to the one we had before at the newly-renovated Chinese restaurant near us , sadly , it wasn't . The original recipe tasted bland
so adding a few more ingredients is a must .

Re thin sesame paste , I can't seem to find it anywhere here so I just used the good old sesame paste available at the market . Peanut butter  adds a delicious flavor in which the original recipe lacks and you can add more if prefer . For the toppings , the more , the better , the flavor and texture contrast is just wonderful . Remember to serve the noodles as soon as you finished cooking it as the noodles will absorb the soup it as it cools down though it will be just as delicious eating it a bit dry .

Recipe adapted from Shanghai cuisine book

My modifications in blue

150 grams Sichuan noodles

Toppings :

1/2 tsp chopped dried shrimps 1 tsp
1/2 tsp diced preserved Sichuan vegetable 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp chopped deep fried peanuts 3 tablespoons
1 sprig spring onion , chopped

Seasoning :

2 tsps thin sesame paste 1 generous tablespoon
2 tsps crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp chili oil 2 1/2 teaspoons
1/ tsp lychee vinegar 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1/2 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
100 ml hot water

* Bring a pot of water to a boil , blanch noodles for 1 minute  , 2 minutes , take out and set aside .

* Bring chicken broth and water to a boil , add sesame paste , mix well then add in the remaining seasonings . Bring to a boil , adjust taste , add  the noodles , immediately turn off the heat , dish up . Sprinkle top with chopped dried shrimps , preserved vegetable , peanuts and spring onion . Serve immediately with extra toppings .

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Shanghainese hot and sour soup

Shanghainese hot and sour soup is more of snack here in Hongkong than a soup usually serve at dinner . It's a popular street side snack and you can buy it all-year round .

Pig's or chicken blood and pig's innards are commonly use to make this soup . The ones I tried so far , were nearly similar to this recipe though pig's blood sounds interesting and I'm sure quiet delicious in this soup .

The hot comes from chili bean sauce and the sour from Zhengiang vinegar . You can adjust the ingredients according to preference . Take care when adding salt , I reduced mine to almost one-thirds but according to my test taster , still a tad salty .

This soup is so easy to prepare , cooking time is actually about 6 minutes , but the preparation of the ingredients will take longer .

Recipe adapted from Chinese cuisine for beginners

Serves 4 - 6

My slight modifications in blue

60 grams ( canned or fresh ) bamboo shoots
30 grams black fungus , soak until soft
3 dried mushrooms , soaked until very soft
1 pc hard beancurd , thinly sliced
80 grams lean pork , thinly sliced , I used 90 grams boneless chicken thigh 
1 egg , beaten
600 ml chicken broth

Seasoning for the pork chicken :

1/4 tsp salt a pinch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Seasoning for soup :

150 ml water 200 ml
3 tbsps chili bean paste
3 tbsps Zhenjiang vinegar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps sesame oil

some sliced spring onion for garnish

Thickening :

3 tbsps cornstarch mix with 3 tbsps water

* Boil bamboo shoot for 20 minutes , drain , rinse well and shred .

* Marinate chicken . Trim and shred mushrooms and black fungus .

* Heat saucepan over medium high heat ,  pour in 1 tbsp oil , when oil is hot , add the sliced chicken and cook until it changes color . Add in the mushrooms , black fungus  and bamboo shoots , mix well . Pour in the broth and beancurd and let boil . I simmer it over low heat for 3 minutes .

* When the soup boils again , add in the seasoning and stir in the thickening gradually . Turn off heat , add in the beaten egg and stir to form egg shreds . Serve piping hot . 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Portuguese egg tarts

You can easily identify Portuguese egg tart  by its charred spotted surface , some called it Maillard reaction but actually more of caramelization of milk and sugar when baked over high heat .

Tried the recipe that I saw from the Chinese book and the result was just so-so , though the puff pastry is easy to make . As with most bilingual cookbook , no exact measurement is listed on the instructions so I made it the same way as this croissant .

Baking the tarts at 230ºC for 15 minutes as stated in the book resulted in a soggy bottom . So , I tested the other recipe that I found more than 2 years ago in one of the free Chinese dailies here . Only the filling recipe since I can't figure out the instructions on how to make the puff pastry after reading it several times lol 

When I made them previously, I trimmed off the ends of the rolled pastry and divided it into 10 pieces ( as stated in the book )  but I found them too thick ( but with nice layers ) and lots of leftover custard filling . This time , I divided it into 14 pieces though from what I discovered , 12 is just about right . 

Baking them at 230ºC for 25 minutes in the upper thirds of the oven seems to be the best way to get a nicely charred surface . I might say that they look pretty delicious ! 

Remember that not all ovens are alike , so make sure to adjust the temperature accordingly .

2nd attempt : baked at 230ºC for 25 minutes , middle rack 

Thick and flaky crust ( pastry crust divided at 10 portions )

Buttery , flaky and crispy crust with soft custard filling , these tartlets are so much better than your neighborhood Colonel Sanders ! Best of all the crust will stay crispy for about 4 hours ....

Recipe adapted from 入爐Easy go! / 鮑魚[著].

Makes 14 pieces ( though 12 is perfect )

For the tartlet pastry : My slight substitutions in blue

130 grams cake flour 110 grams
20 grams bread flour 40 grams 
25 grams shortening homemade lard
80 grams water

100 grams margarine , butter , 4x4-inch square

* Combine the 2 flours together in a clean work surface , add in lard and use fingers to combine until lard is coated well with flour .

*  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the water , knead to form a smooth dough ,  3 minutes . Form into a ball and chill in the fridge overnight .

* Please check this link for the step by step photos on how to make a pastry .

* Enclose butter into the chilled dough and roll into a 9x14-inch rectangle and do a 4-fold , do this 3 times .

* Place pastry in the freezer for 20 minutes after each turn . After the final turn , roll it up and wrap in plastic wrap , chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before using .

* Preheat oven to 230ºC . Place oven rack at the upper third  of the oven .

* Cut tartlet in 14 or 12 pieces  . Coat bottom with cake flour , and place into a greased moulds . Using the moistened 2 thumbs , press pastry from center up to sides evenly , the pastry should be higher than the mould . Place on the baking sheet and continue with the remaining pieces .

* Stir filling and pour into each pastry almost to the rim , don't worry the pastry will puff up first before the filling so it won't overflow .  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown .

Filling recipe adapted from Layers , check original recipe at the bottom of this post

Makes 2 cups

250 grams whipping cream
125 grams UHT milk
88 grams granulated sugar
2 eggs yolks
30 grams ( beaten ) egg

* Combine cream , milk and sugar in a saucepan , turn on heat to medium and stir mixture until sugar is dissolved , about 3 minutes  . Meanwhile , beat egg yolks and the 30 grams egg in a small bowl , pour about 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture into the beaten eggs , stir until combined then pour this egg mixture back into the saucepan . Continue to cook the custard for 1 minute then strain mixture into a heat-proof container , cool a bit before using . You can make this ahead and chill in the fridge overnight ( it will get a bit thicker ) , let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before using . 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Matcha and chocolate snowskin mooncake with mung bean filling and some with homemade ( almost ) Cherry Garcia ice cream

Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important event in Chinese traditional holidays . This festival was a time to enjoy the succesful harvest with food offerings in honor of the moon (Wiki )

Today , it is more of a family gathering or reunion , kids carrying brightly-lit lanterns at night and making or buying and giving mooncakes .

Traditional mooncake is made from Chinese pastry crust with rich filling either from red bean paste or lotus seeds and may contain yolk(s) from salted ducks egg(s) and baked . Though this kind of mooncake is still popular here in Hongkong , some people prefer the snowskin mooncake which was popularized  by Taipan bakery .

Snowskin mooncake is made from glutinous rice , flour , sugar , milk and oil and the filling is usually mungbean paste and must be stored in the freezer  . Some version have fruits , chocolate , cream cheese or any fillings under the sun  that pastry chefs can think of .

Making snowskin mooncake is pretty easy just like making a mochi but much prettier . Different kinds of plastic moulds are used to create different patterns . In these mini version  , I used a 50 grams mould and filled some pieces with both mung bean and ice cream and made a sort of matcha mochi ice cream mooncake  . The filling is wrapped inside the cooked snowskin dough , dusted with some cooked glutinous rice flour to prevent sticking then pressed into the desired mould . This kind of mooncake should be kept frozen .

I had a hard time with ice cream filling though , it should be soft enough  but not melting when you wrap the snow skin over it . By the time I wrapped it , there was a tear here and there and the ice cream started to leak out . You have to patient when making this which sadly ,  I was short of it that day lol If you want to try your hand in filling the snowkin with ice cream , try it half skin and half filling . Flavor-wise , you can barely tastes the matcha and chocolate flavor though , I think it was muted by the amount of coconut milk . And for the mungbean filling , it's way better than the one I made last time !

Recipe adapted from Homemade Delightful Fruit Desserts by Charles Ho

Snowskin :

110 grams coconut milk
70 grams fresh milk
35 grams caster sugar
10 grams vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
25 grams rice flour
20 grams wheat starch
20 grams glutinous rice flour
10 grams cake flour

40 grams cooked/fried sweet glutinous rice flour for coating

* Sift together rice flour , wheat starch , glutinous rice flour , and cake flour , set aside .

* Bring coconut milk , milk , sugar , oil and vanilla to the boil , reduce to low heat . Add in the sifted dry ingredients , stir until dry ( about 4 minutes ) . Transfer to a bowl , let cool and chill in the fridge to loosen texture . You can make this a day ahead . I made 13 ( 20 grams each ) mini mooncake from this using 50 grams mold .

If you want to use ***cocoa powder , add 5 grams and reduce glutinous rice flour to 13 grams .  ***If using matcha or coffee powder , 3 grams , no need to reduce the flour .

Mungbean / green been paste :

80 grams skinned mungbean
35 grams coconut milk
15 grams butter
15 grams caster sugar
85 grams condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
20 grams custard powder
8 grams wheat starch
8 grams milk powder

100 grams mango , diced and frozen , for filling ( omitted this )
ice cream , optional

*  Soak green beans in water for 20 minutes . Drain and rinse . Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the beans ( I used 1 1/2 cups ) , let boil and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until soft and mushy , drain ( not much water left to drain , in my case ) . Add in coconut milk and blend into a paste . You can use a fine sieve , use a spoon or a spatula to push the mixture through it or to make your life easier , use a food blender /food processor/ immersion blender .

* Heat butter in a pan or a small saucepan , add in the green bean paste and the remaining ingredients . Mix well and stir until dry ( I cooked the mixture over medium heat for about 6 minutes ) . Let cool and wrap with a cling film , chill in the fridge before using . You can make this ahead .

* Divide snowskin and filling and roll into a small balls . If you have have a 75 grams mould , 30 grams snowskin and 45 grams filling . Or if you have 50 grams mould , 20 grams snowskin , 30 grams filling .

* Flatten one snowskin dough thinly and place filling into the center and roll into a ball , coat with fried glutinous rice , brushing excess flour before pressing into the mould .

* Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and continue with the rest . Put in the freezer several hours before consuming . Let mooncake stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before eating . The snowskin mooncake ice cream must be eaten straight from the freezer .

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Matcha danish loaf and croissants

Warning : Lots of photos ahead !

Looking for a croissant loaf recipe ?! This matcha danish loaf is made from croissant dough  and just like a croissant .....

Croissant is a flaky , buttery pastry made from yeast-leavened dough and butter . The butter is enclosed inside the dough , rolled and folded several times then rolled into a thin sheet , this technique is called laminating . This process results in a layered , flaky texture ( wiki )

The danish loaf is made the same way as croissant in this recipe except of course  , when shaping .

The recipe is pretty straighforward well , after I figured it out by reading other croissant recipes .

The problem with some bilingual books is that some of the instructions are a bit spotty and this book is no exception . If not for the photo of the danish loaf in the book , very pretty ( but the photo of the croissants doesn't impress me much ) and the reasonable amount of butter ( only 115 grams  ) , I wouldn't be so tempted to try the recipe . Hey , aren't you glad that I did ? lol

If you want to make this recipe and it's as hot as Hades in your side of the world , turn on the aircon , trust me , it'll make your life easier .

Buy the best butter you can find because you'll be the one who's gonna eat most of it . I used Beurre d'Isigny in almost all of the loaves and croissants that I made except in matcha loaf , in which I used Paysan Breton .

The photos in this post are the combination of my several baked danish loaf and the 3rd attempt at croissant making . Photos of the step by step instructions are mostly from matcha loaf and croissant .

I used 2 grams of yeast in baking both danish loaf ( original and matcha flavor ) and the croissant . Final dough may vary depending on how much extra flour I've added while kneading the dough .

My step by step instructions below are mostly based from what I've read at Joanne Chang's Flour , too and from Bouchon Bakery's croissant recipe . The original instructions from the book is at the bottom .

Recipe adapted from Homemade professional bakery-style bread by Charles Ho

Makes 1 8 x 4-inch loaf or 8 pieces 6-inch croissants plus 1 and 1/2 small croissants from scraps

Final dough in matcha danish loaf is 311 grams and 317 grams in matcha croissant

My slight substitutions in red

7 grams fresh yeast 2 grams instant yeast
15 grams caster sugar
2 grams salt
8 grams milk powder
8 grams Uji matcha powder
115 grams bread flour
45 grams cake flour 40 grams cake flour
40 grams ( beaten ) egg
20 grams fresh milk
45 grams water ( 50 grams water in croissant ) 
20 grams unsalted butter , cut into small cubes , at room temperature

115 grams butter block 4'' x 4' square

egg wash

* Combine all ingredients except the butter and knead until gluten starts to form . Add in butter and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic , about 20 - 25 minutes . Shape dough into a ball then flatten into a rough rectangle . Place dough into the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap . Chill in the fridge overnight , 8-10 hours ( figure 1 )

* Roll out dough into a 6 inch square , draw a 4 inch square as a guide ( for the butter ) and roll the 4 flaps at the sides . The middle of the dough should be thicker ( figure 2 )

* Place butter into the center ( figure 3 ) and close all 4 sides ( figure 4 and 5 ) Use the palms of both hands , firmly press down  the dough to create a 6-inch square (figure 6 )

*  Roll out dough to 12'' x 8'' rectangle ( figure 7 )  and do a 3 fold , just like folding a letter ( figures 8 and 9 ) . Rotate dough ( you'll have a 4 x 8-inch rectangle  after each turn ) at 90 degrees so that the opening is on the right ( figure 10 ) . The process of folding and rotating is called '' turning the dough '' .

* Place dough into a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap . Put in the freezer for 20 minutes .

* Remember to lift or fluff the dough often and dust the work surface and the dough with flour to prevent sticking . Brush off any excess flour off the dough .

* Do the 3 folds 3 times and freeze dough for 20 minutes after each turn .

* As you complete each turn , you'll have 3 layers of evenly stacked dough . Rather than immediately rolling out these layers with back and forth motion , use the rolling pin and press it down firmly onto the length of the dough , creating ridges in the dough as you compact it ( figure 11 ) Once the dough is press down all over , roll the pin back and forth , smoothing out the the ridges as you flatten and roll .

* After the final turn with 4'' x  8'' rectangle  ( figure 12 ) . Freeze for the last time .

* For Danish loaf :  Roll out dough into 16 x 4-inch rectangle , the length of the dough should be twice the size of the loaf tin  , I used a 8 x 4-inch pullman tin . Cut into 3 or 4 strips and braid the strips of dough .

* Place both ends of the braid on the middle then put it into the tin up side down . Cover with plastic wrap , place tin onto the baking sheet and let proof until it fill up 80 or 90 % of the tin , about 4 to 5 hours .

* Preheat oven at 200°C . Brush top of the loaf with egg wash . Place the baking sheet at the lowest rack ( I use a table top oven ) and immediately lower the temperature to 180°C .

* Bake for 33 minutes or until loaf is golden . If the  top of the loaf starts to turn brown  , cover top with foil .

For the croissant : 

* Roll out dough to 15 x 8-inch rectangle . Starting at the bottom left corner of the rectangle , make a mark every 3-inches , you'll have 8 pieces 3 x 8-inch rectangle plus 2 scraps . 

* Pick one triangle and hold the base with one hand and gently stretch the length with your other hand to elongate it to about 10-inches in length . Place the lengthened triangle on the work surface and roll starting from the base , place in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper . 

* Let proof for about 2 hours or until doubled in size .

* Preheat oven to 200°C . Brush each croissants with egg wash . Place baking sheet in the middle rack and immediately lower temperature to 180°C . Bake croissants for 20 minutes . 

Original instructions :

Makes 10 to 12 croissants

* Put fresh yeast , caster sugar , salt , milk powder , egg  , fresh milk  , water  , bread flour and cake flour in a mixing bowl

* Use the spiral hook of a handheld electric mixer to combine ingredients at low speed . Add butter and mix until dough becomes shiny and smooth and can be stretch to thin membrane . Flatten dough with palm to rectangle shape . Chill in fridge and let ferment for 20 minutes .

* Roll out croissant butter with rolling pin until thin and soft .

* Remove dough from the fridge and roll out thinly . Wrap the entire piece of croissant butter with dough  .

* Roll out thinly with rolling pin to form a rectangle . Fold it into thirds 3x3x3 . Do it three times .

* Chill in fridge until dough hardens . Remove from fridge and roll out thinly for shaping .

For croissant , you'll need 5 pieces 15 cm even triangle pastry with 4 mm thickness . Preheat oven at 150°C . Adjust to 180°C  . Bake pastry until surface changes color . Adjust to 150°C and use only surface heating and bake until done . The entire baking process takes about 20 minutes .

For danish loaf , you'll need 220 grams of rectangular dough ( 7cm x 30 cm ) with 8mm thickness . You also need an 8 x 15cm loaf pan for baking the loaf . Preheat oven at 150°C . Adjust to 180°C and put tin into the middle of the oven . Bake until surface changes color , adjust to 150°C . Bake until done . The entire baking process takes about 35 minutes .