Friday, December 13, 2019

Ube halaya cream tart

Poor Judgement.

It's that time of the year again! How's the Christmas shopping er baking so far?!

Remember to buy only what you can afford! Needs vs Wants. Your purchase(s) may look good on Social Media but not on your bank account...

A friendly reminder from someone who's earning a pittance. You're welcome! 

I baked this nearly 2 weeks ago but as always, it's easy to bake, even easier to consume almost all the whole tart.. Writing the blog post though is another matter especially if you don't know what to write 🙄


Ube halaya is a Filipino delicacy made from mashed ube or purple yam, coconut milk, condensed milk and some pantry staple ingredients. Cooking is straightforward as you just need to combine everything and cook until mixture thickens.

Ube is a tuberous root vegetable often confused with taro or purple sweet potato though it has almost the same flavour characteristics as the other two. Colour may range from vivid purple to lavender but sometimes you can find white ones as well.

When the weather starts to get a bit cooler here in smoggy Hong Kong, you can find lots fresh ube at the wet market. If you go to market often you can also find it during summertime though not as much  compare to cooler months.

Ube halaya is delightful on its own or as a bread or cracker spread, on cheesecake, ice cream but why stop there?! Colour of the ube halaya will depend upon how vivid the ube you've used. You can use ube food colouring if desired.

Giving this popular Filipino delicacy a French twist, another one of my East meets West dessert. This tart has 4 layers, the sweet pastry crust, salted caramel, diplomat cream and the homemade ube halaya. No, don't omit the salted caramel (recipe here) as the diplomat cream and ube halaya combination is a bit boring without it.

Layers are not as neat as some of my previous tarts and the crust is bit uneven as well but taste is all that matters...

Ube halaya, recipe adapted from KULINARYA

350 grams (steamed and mashed) ube/purple yam
85 grams sugar
300 grams coconut milk           
50 grams condensed milk
45 grams butter, softened

* In a blender or food processor, combine ube, sugar, the 2 milk and process until mixture is smooth.

* Pour mixture in a non-stick pan, let it boil over high heat while stirring constantly. When mixture starts to bubble, turn down heat to medium heat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until it thickens.

* Transfer to a prepared sterilized jar, let cool completely before storing in the fridge. Take out in the fridge an hour (more time if it is cold in the side of your world) before using.

* You'll need about 350 grams to fill the the rectangle pan so as the 2 minis. Stir or beat lightly so that it'll be easier to pipe.

Makes about 750 grams

* Make this a day ahead.

Adjust the sugar according to preference. You can add ube flavouring if you want a vivid purple hue.

Pastry cream

3 grams gelatine leaf/sheet
200 grams whole milk, fresh or UHT
25 grams sugar (1)
some vanilla seeds (from homemade vanilla extract) or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks (about 35 grams)
15 grams sugar (2)
20 grams cornstarch
20 grams unsalted butter, softened

* Soak gelatine in cold water for 5-10 minutes or until softens. Once softens, squeezed out excess water and set aside.

* In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar (1)  and vanilla seeds, bring into a boil.

* Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar (2) until light and creamy, add in the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Pour hot milk gradually over the yolk mixture, stir as you pour to prevent curdling. Pour mixture back into the saucepan, bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Cook cream over medium heat for another 2 minutes until mixture thickens. Turn off heat, add in the softened gelatine and stir until melted then add in the butter, mix until well incorporated.

* Transfer to a bowl and place a plastic wrap directly on top of the cream. Let cool completely and chill in the fridge before using.

* Make this a day ahead.

Diplomat cream

250 grams pastry cream, at room temp but still cool, recipe above
145 grams whipping cream

* Beat cream until almost stiff peaks, set aside or you can chill it in the fridge if the weather is warm.

* Whisk pastry cream until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions until well combined. If the diplomat cream looks a bit lumpy, use the hand mixer and whisk over low spread for about 30-45 seconds. Chill in the fridge until needed. 

Sweet tart dough, recipe adapted from Pastries

75 grams butter, softened
50 grams icing sugar
25 grams almond powder
2 grams salt
20 grams/ 1 egg yolk
5 grams vanilla extract
75 grams cake flour + 50 grams plain flour

* Beat butter until smooth, add in the sugar, almond flour and salt. Add the flour and beat until just combined, add in the yolks and vanilla and use a spatula to mix everything. Gather dough into a ball and knead gently 4-6 times until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill into the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

* The next day when you assemble the tart: Roll dough into 3 mm thick, gently transfer dough into the prepared lightly-greased 25x9.5-cm fluted tart pan, lightly smoothing the sides and bottom, trim off excess. Do the same with the mini tart using two 6x3-cm square and trace a mini spoon to make 2-4 pieces spoon-shaped cookies. Prick the pastry shells with fork and freeze for 1 hour. Take out from the freezer, line the pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with baking stones. Freeze again for another 20 minutes (a must if the weather is hot).

* Preheat oven to 170ºC.

* Bake for 20 minutes. Take out from the oven and remove the baking stones and the parchment. Return the tart base to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes until light brown in colour.

* Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before adding in the filling(s).

To assemble the tarts

* Spread a bit of salted caramel at the base and top with diplomat cream. Lastly, spread some ube halaya on top of the cream. Use a small offset spatula to smoothen the cream and the halaya. Pipe a bit of remaining diplomat cream so as the ube halaya on top, Chill in the fridge to set for at least an hour.

* Decorate with ube macarons and spoon-shaped cookies before serving.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Mango-matcha charlotte cake

No butter shortage, only money shortage

Here's my take on the Charlotte cake, giving it a delightful Asian twist, using mangoes from #Duterteland and matcha-flavoured sponge cake.

Charlotte cake is made of ladyfingers or sponge and filled with cream or mousse or jelly and top with variety of fruits. The name of the dessert was a tribute to Queen Charlotte. Bread though was the basis for the earliest charlotte recipes, it's a dessert with fruit jelly or preserves and baked over hot coals and eaten warm.

Charlotte cake is more of a summer cake, the abundance of strawberries during summertime makes this cake a popular choice for a simple yet refreshing dessert. But that doesn't mean you can't make it past summer 🤣

My version of Charlotte cake is mostly made of the usual things you'll find in some French pastries. I used créme diplomat because I've got some egg yolks from macaron making and it's pretty easy to make. Créme diplomat is just a mix of pastry cream and whipped cream. Genoise sponge is sturdy enough as a base to hold the cream. The filling is supposedly a mango jelly but I want to try a compote. Compote means a chunky fruit sauce but the very ripe mangoes tend to disintegrates when you cook it thus the smooth compote.  As you can see from the photos, there's a slight dip in the middle of the sliced cake because I forgot to add another layer of cream  on top of the compote before adding the sponge. I used some of the extra créme diplomat to make a mini cake, sponge is from scraps.

Toppings are leftover créme diplomat, homemade green tea macs and fresh cubed mangoes

So how's your Baking mojo nowadays?! 😅

Pastry cream, make this a day ahead

250 grams whole milk (UHT or fresh)
40 (1) grams sugar
some vanilla seeds or 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks 
10 (2) grams sugar
20 grams cornstarch
1 gram fine sea salt
20 grams butter, softened
4 grams gelatine sheets

* Soak gelatine sheets in cold water for 5-10 minutes. Once softens, squeeze out excess water and set aside.

* Bring milk and sugar into a boil.

* In a mixing bowl, beat yolks and sugar until light and creamy, add in cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Gradually pour in the warm milk mixture, whisking as you pour to prevent eggs from curdling. Pour back mixture back into the pan and bring into a boil while whisking constantly. Let cream boil over medium heat for 2 minutes until thick, turn off heat and add butter; stir until well combined. Add in the softened gelatine and still until completely melted.

* Transfer to a shallow heat-proof bowl and place a plastic wrap directly onto the top of the pastry cream. Let cool at room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

Mango compote, recipe--->>> here

Genoise sponge, recipe adapted from Okashi

115 grams cake flour
4 grams matcha powder, sifted 3 times together with the flour
170 grams (3 large) whole eggs
100 grams caster sugar
15 grams glucose syrup
30 grams butter
45 grams (fresh) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

* Line a 12-inch square pan with parchment, set aside.

* Preheat oven to 190ºC.

* In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with whisk, add in glucose and sugar, mix well. Place bowl over a saucepan with barely simmering water, stir mixture until sugar is completely dissolved or the temperature has reached 39-40ºC.

* Take bowl off heat and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and continue beating for 1 minute to even out the batter. Gently fold in the flour flour-matcha mixture.

* Combine the butter, milk and vanilla in a small heat-proof bowl, place bowl in a saucepan until butter is melted.

* Add about 1/4 cup of the egg batter to the warm butter mixture and mix well. Add it back to the remaining batter and fold evenly.

* Pour into the prepared pan, drop the pan gently several times to remove air bubbles.

* Bake for 16 minutes. Take out cake from the oven and immediately remove from the pan. Cover cake with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, gently scrape off the brown crust from the top of the cake before cutting.

Créme diplomat

350 grams pastry cream
250 grams whipping cream

* Beat cream until (almost) stiff peaks, chill in the fridge until needed.

* Beat pastry cream until soft, fold in whipped cream. If there are still some lumps, beat mixture over low speed for about 30 seconds until smooth.

* Chill in the fridge until needed.

Cake assembly: See photos below

You'll need a 6-x3inch mousse mould to hold the cake so as 5-inch mould to cut out two 5-inch sponge

* Cut 2.5-inch x 17-inch rectangle to line the sides of the mould. Use the 5-inch mould the cut 2 pieces of round sponge.

* Line the sides of the mould with the rectangle sponge and place 1 round sponge at the bottom. Pipe in some créme diplomat in the middle (leave about 2 cm gap from the top of the sponge) use a small offset spatula to smoothen the top. Pour in some mango compote on top of the cream, top another layer of cream and cover with the remaining round sponge, pressing it down gently. Pipe in more cream along the sides and over the sponge, use a long spatula to smoothen the top. Reserve some créme diplomat for decoration. Chill in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight before un-moulding the cake.

* Ran a hairdryer or a kitchen torch along the sides of the moulds for few seconds and gently shake to un-mould the cake. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm it up a bit.

* Decorate top with leftover diplomat cream, mango cubes and green tea macarons.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Calamansi and salted caramel tartlets

When life gives you calamansi...

Back home in #Duterteland, calamansi is a popular choice when making a refreshing juice, marinades, dipping sauce to name a few; it's cheap and can be found anywhere, well, almost...

And just like lemon or lime, calamansi is also widely (?) use in baking.

This is a calamansi version of the tarte au citron, a French lemon tart. 

So, what's the difference between the French version and the classic lemon tart?!

Yup, you've guessed it right! Spin a win!!! 

Butter makes the French version a stand out. It is buttery, rich and tempered with the perfect tanginess of the calamansi.

And also unhealthy! 

Hey, you only live once....

The filling of this tart is basically a calamansi curd that has been cooked with butter (okay, lots of it to clog your arteries). Some version is to add softened butter after you've cooked the mixture but cooking it together saves time and effort considering the amount of it. I did reduced the amount of butter, from 140 grams to a respectable 90 grams. You can either bake the tart at 180ºC for 5-8 minutes to set the curd or just chill it for for at least 2 hours before serving.

I also added a layer of salted caramel sauce for flavour contrast.

Topping is supposedly a meringue but I over whipped it and and the result looks like a scrambled egg whites tsk! Good thing I've got frozen raspberries and mint leaves 🙄

Salted caramel sauce

115 grams whipping cream
140 grams sugar
30 grams (drinking) water
20 grams butter, cubed and softened
1.5 grams fine sea salt

* In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil; keep warm.

* In another saucepan, combine sugar and water, shake pan gently to evenly distribute the sugar. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time, for 6-8 minutes until the colour turn into golden brown or amber. Take pan off heat, add the warm cream gradually, whisking the caramel until smooth. Add in the butter and salt, mix until well combined. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before pouring in the prepared sterilized jar. Let cool completely. Chill in the fridge until needed. Make this a day ahead.

Yield: 225 grams

Pâte sucrée, recipe adapted from French Pastry 101 (slightly tweaked)

85 grams cold butter, cubed
150 grams cake flour or plain flour, sifted
60 grams powdered/icing sugar, sifted
30 grams almond powder
2 grams fine sea salt
30 grams (lightly beaten) whole egg, chilled
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

* In a mixing bowl or clean work surface, combine butter, flour, sugar, almond powder and salt. Use fingers to rub ingredients together until you have a texture like a coarse breadcrumbs. Add in the beaten egg and vanilla, stir with a spatula until liquid in absorbed; gather together to form a cohesive dough and gently knead 4-6 times until dough is smooth. Place in a plastic wrap and form into a 5-inch square. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours before using.

* Lightly grease six 8-cm and two 5.5cm tart rings, place them on a baking sheet. Pâte sucrée recipe will nicely fit in eight tart rings or a 9-inch fluted tart pan.

* Roll dough, between 2 sheets of lightly-floured parchment paper, into 2-3mm thick. Line each tart ring with dough, scraping the excess from the top with a knife, re-roll if necessary. If the dough becomes soft, place in the fridge to firm it up before working with it again.

* Freeze for 1 hour. Take out from the freezer and line the surface with parchment paper, add in some baking weights on top and freeze for another 20 minutes before baking.

* Preheat oven to 180ºC.

* Blind bake for 22 minutes until top is slightly golden. Take out tarts from the oven and carefully removed the baking weights. Bake for another 8 minutes. Let cool completely before using.

* Colour of the baked pâte sucrée is a bit darker in real life.

Calamansi curd filling:

2 large egg plus 1 large yolk
115 grams sugar
100 grams freshly-squeezed calamansi juice
2 grams calamansi zest
90 grams butter, cubed

* In a small saucepan, combine the eggs, yolk and the sugar, whisk until mixture is light and smooth. Stir in the juice and zest; add in the butter.

* Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching the bottom, for 6-8 minutes, at 85ºC/185ºF. Strain curd over a fine wire-mesh sieve and let cool for 10-15 minutes before using.

To assemble the tartlets:

* Place 15 grams of salted caramel in each tart ring and 10 grams in smaller ones. Pour in the cooled calamansi curd on top. Chill in the fridge to set for at least 2 hour or so.

* Decorate with raspberries, mint leaves and some milk Crispearls. Serve straight from the fridge. Best eaten the day the tart is made but leftover can be stored inside the fridge in an airtight container. Consume within 3 days.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Salted egg yolk chicken wings

A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.

I'm probably late on this salted egg yolk craze but better late than never...

By now, you've probably heard or even eaten salted (duck) egg yolk fish skin or chips....

Or the crisp-fried lizards in packets of salted egg fish skin in Singapore?!

If not, where the hell have you been?!  🤣 

Salted egg yolk is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, from soups to traditional baked mooncakes and now the ubiquitous salted egg yolk fish skin or chip snacks which exploded in Singapore's food scene 2 years ago. 

And there's of course, the salted egg yolk fried chicken, an Asian-inspired take of the ever popular poultry. Fried wings are simply coated with rich and creamy egg yolk sauce. Original recipe calls for 20 curry leaves but I can't find it here so I sub it with both lime zest and Thai basil. 

Recipe adapted from MeatMen

15 pieces chicken wings or 600 grams boneless whole chicken legs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 egg, beaten
120 grams sweet potato starch or potato starch
Cooking oil, for deep-frying
2-3 bird's eye chillis, sliced
Zest of 2 limes
10 pieces Thai basil
40 grams butter

Marinade for chicken:

3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp cooking sake or Chinese rice wine

Salted egg yolk sauce:

6 egg yolks
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger

* Marinate chicken for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight in the fridge (or 1 hour, if using boneless chicken pieces). Take out chicken from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.

* Add beaten egg to the marinated chicken. Set aside.

* Prepare salted egg yolk sauce: Steam egg yolks over medium heat for 10 minutes. Once cooked,  push yolks through a fine-wire mesh sieve to get a smooth texture or mash with fork (or potato masher) as fine as you can.

* Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium heat, add the mashed salted egg yolks and stir fry until foamy, about 3-6 minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Dish out and set aside.

* Coat chicken with potato starch, shaking out excess.

* Heat enough oil for deep-frying. Fry chicken in batches for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Place in a wire rack to drain excess oil, set aside.

* In a clean pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat, add chillis, lime zest and basil. Stir fry for about 30 seconds, add in butter and egg yolk sauce and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the fried wings and toss until evenly coated with the sauce. Dish up and serve. Best eaten with rice.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Cherry-calamansi curd breton tartlets

Easier said than done.

I made these tartlets last week so no leftovers. Sorry! Not! 

It's easy to make pastries, much easier to take millions of nice photos but writing a blog post?! #*%$@

So, I'll just keep this post short and sweet....

The recipes though are way too long 🤣

Sablé Breton is a French butter cookie, the dough is enriched with egg yolks and seasoned with sea salt. It originates in Brittany, France, which is famous for its Guerande sea salt and of course, butter.

This butter cookie is leavened with baking powder and has a crumbly texture with delightful crunch in every bite. You can eat it on its own or use as a base for fruit tarts.

You can use diplomat cream rather than mousseline cream as frosting, but I want to eat butter,  thus the latter. Mousseline cream is made of pastry cream enriched with butter, mixture should be 2 parts pastry cream to 1 part butter.

I love pastry with contrasting flavour so I used calamansi curd to offset the rich and buttery sablé so as the butter frosting. And what is French pastry without fresh fruits?! 

Sable breton recipe adapted from The New Pâtissiers

72 grams all-purpose flour
5 grams baking powder
1 gram fine sea salt
25 grams egg yolks
51 grams sugar
51 grams butter, softened

* Lightly grease five 8.5cm tart rings and place into a silicone/parchment-lined baking sheet.

* Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

* In a small mixing bowl, whisk yolks and sugar until thick and creamy. Gradually add in the butter into the yolk mixture and whisk until well-combined.

* Add in dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Divide evenly into the prepared tart rings, place a small parchment on top of the dough and press gently to smoothen the surface. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

* Chill in the fridge overnight.

* The next day: Bake at 150ºC for 22-24 minutes.

* Let cool slightly before unmoulding. Cool completely before using.

Pastry cream 

200 grams milk
some vanilla seeds (from homemade vanilla extract)
35 grams egg yolks
40 grams caster sugar, divided
20 grams cornstarch
15 grams butter, softened

* In a small saucepan, combine milk, half of the sugar and vanilla seeds; bring to a boil.

* Meanwhile, whisk yolks and the remaining sugar until creamy; add in the cornstarch and whisk agin until smooth. Gradually pour in warm milk into the yolk mixture and whisk until there are no lumps. Pour back mixture into the saucepan and bring it to a simmer while continuously whisking. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until thickens. Turn off heat and add in the butter, stir until well-combined. Pour pastry cream into a shallow tray or bowl, place plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent skin from forming. Let cool and chill in the fridge until needed.

* You can add 2 grams of softened gelatine leaf/sheet to make pastry cream a bit stable.

* Make this a day ahead.

Yield: 275 grams

Mousseline cream 

135 grams butter, very soft
275 grams pastry cream (temperature should be almost the same as the butter)

* Beat butter until smooth, add in the pastry cream in 2 additions and beat until mixture is smooth and pipeable.

Calamansi curd, recipe here


Cherries (sliced and whole) for topping
Mint leaves and (Callebaut) strawberry crisp pearls for garnish

* Pipe some calamansi curd in the middle of the sable breton. Using a French star tip, pipe some mousseline cream around the sides. Do the same with the rest.

* Add in some sliced and whole cherries in the middle and garnish with mint leaves and crisp pearls.

* Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes, depending on the ambient temperature, before serving. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Thai green beef curry

Keep calm and curry on.

Because making this dish is easier than laminating the croissant dough... Hey, one can only make so many French pastries!

Green curry is one of my favourite Thai food. Chicken rather than beef is commonly used when making this type of curry but I think using the latter is so much better.

Green curry paste is made up of different spices, the green colour comes from bird's eyes chillies and by adding Thai basil in the mixture, it will intensify the colour without the heat.

It may not look like much but this curry is packed full of flavour, the combination of different flavours and textures are perfect with steamed rice or noodles. Nope, the green curry paste is not made from scratch as I don't have all the spices on hand. 

This is more like a soupy curry rather than the thick saucy version that I usually have in some Thai resto here. According to Hot Thai Kitchen cookbook, where I got this recipe, this curry should have a creamy mouthfeel but should not be thick or viscous, so I got it right. I like a more thicker version though, maybe will adjust the amount of liquid next time 🤪Recipe listed below is my tweak version.

You can use different kinds of vegetables when making this dish. I added zucchini for its firm and crunchy texture. 

Recipe adapted from Hot Thai Kitchen cookbook

600 grams boneless short ribs, cut into bite-sized pieces
500 grams coconut milk
85 grams (store-bought) green curry paste
5 grams coarse sea salt
3-4 cups water, for boiling the beef
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn into chunks
50 grams palm sugar, grated or finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
300 grams bamboo shoots (from 1 can, drained), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stems of Thai basil, use only the leaves

* In a medium-sized saucepan, add the beef, 60 grams coconut milk, 25 grams curry paste and 5 grams salt. Add enough water to completely cover the beef, bring to the boil, loosely cover and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. Skim off the scum that accumulates on the surface of the stock. Add more water if necessary.

* Remove beef chunks from the stock and set aside. Reserve 500 ml of the beef stock, if there isn't enough, add more water to make up the difference.

* Reduce 3/4 cup of the coconut milk in the saucepan over medium-heat until very thick and the clear coconut oil starts to separate from the white portion, 10-15 minutes. If the separation doesn't happen, don't worry, just proceed with the recipe.

* Add curry paste to the reduced coconut milk and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes until curry paste is very thick. Add the remaining coconut milk and stir to mix. Turn heat to medium and add the beef stock, lime leaves, palm sugar, and the fish sauce, bring to the boil. Add the beef chunks, bamboo shoots, zucchini and bell pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes, adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat and add in the basil leaves, mix well.

* Transfer to a serving plate or bowl or ladle over rice or noodles. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve hot.