Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thai Tea Cupcakes with Coconut Cream

A trip to Bangkok is effortless from Singapore, a mere 2.5 hours away and were soaking in the chaotic, bright and TASTY mess that is Thailand. Thai food is brilliant, with beautiful punches of lime, lemongrass and chili. Ive been on abit of a Thai food kick recently, whipping up elementary Pad Thai / Green Curry Fried Rice with chicken (recipe to follow soon! ) because the I love the feisty and rich flavours that are so easy to recreate.

This cupcake is easy to whip up, and brings me back to 2012 in Chiang Mai. We were university kids on a volunteer trip and raided the 7-11s like there was no tomorrow, and I FELL IN LOVE with their Thai ice tea on dispense. Creamy, cool and sweet, sort of like this cupcake. Its topped with a frothy, slightly sweet coconut cream and filled with Speculoos (just because I had some extra )

Thai desserts are often themed with coconut, and the pandan extract marries well with the Thai Tea, but substitute it with coconut extract or give it a miss if you cant find it in stores. ( I got mine at a local Phoon Huat)

Rather excited to share this recipe with my fellow volunteer mates who are actually coming over for dinner next week, cant wait to hear what they think!


Thai Tea Cupcakes (Makes 12 cupcakes or 1 9 inch round cake)
·       1/8 cup condensed milk
·     1 cup whole milk
·       3/4 Thai iced tea mix (see note, below)
·       1 3/8 cups cake flour
·       1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
·       ½ tsp. salt
·       1 stick (113g) butter, room temperature
·       3/4 cups sugar
·       2 eggs, room temperature
·       ½  tablespoon vanilla
·       ¼ teaspoon pandan extract (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Whisk together the milk and condensed milk in a medium pot. Heat over medium or medium-high heat until scalded – steaming with bubbles forming around the edge – stirring occasionally. Add the tea mix, remove from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Pour through a sieve to strain out tea leaves. Let the mixture cool to somewhere between room temperature (a bit warmer is okay, too), using the refrigerator or freezer to cool down quickly if necessary. You can work on the next few steps while youre waiting for the milk mixture to cool down.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld) on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (mixture should be pale yellow ).Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pandan extract.  Scrape down the beaters and the sides of the bowl as needed.

5. Reduce speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. As soon as the flour is almost incorporated, add half the milk mixture. Repeat with a second third of the flour mixture, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour, making sure not to overmix after each addition.

6.  Give the batter a final stir, scraping along the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure all lumps are incorporated and that there are no pockets of dry ingredients hiding in the batter.

7. Pour the batter into cupcake trays, about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes.  When done, the middle of the cake will spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip and a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come back with a few crumbs attached.

8. To assemble, core the cupcakes ¾ way through with an apple corer or paring knife. Using teaspoons, gently spoon speculoos spread into the cupcakes. Seal the hole with leftover crumbs. Top with a scoop of whipped cream and use a spatula to make random swirls. Sprinkle on leftover crumbs.

Coconut Whipped Cream (Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Cakes)
·      1 cup heavy whipping cream
·      ½ cup coconut cream
·      ½ teaspoon vanilla
1.      Beat the whipping cream, coconut cream and vanilla in a bowl on high speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy and small peaks form.
2.    Refrigerate if not using immediately. Cold cream can be rewhipped if it becomes too firm in the fridge.

Baker’s Notes

1.      Use real ground Thai tea and not the instant mix.

2.    The coconut cream is GENIUS, frothy and lightly sweetened. It does not need any extra sugar.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hummingbird Bread Pudding with Cream Cheese Glaze

In Singapore, I grew up on a rice based diet with occasional soupy inflections of noodles (beehoon, ramen - the works!) So bread pudding was a completely foreign and off putting dessert to me. Mucky white bread in soup? Eh Meh. But enlightenment dawned when a friend suggested we try Nigella’s caramel croissant bread pudding and I’ve never looked back.

This recipe is loosely based off my ALL TIME FAVOURITE desserts show - Unique Sweets (Episode-Something Old, Something New). Donna Bell Bake Shop in NYC twisted a classic American cake into bread pudding. EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MADE INTO A BREAD PUDDING. This one has white chocolate, pineapples and bananas, slathered with a cream cheese glaze and toasted walnuts. A welcome tropical twist on a usually heavy dessert.  

I don't know about other parts of the world, but the cupcake trend is still alive and well in Singapore. Hopefully one day with the help of instagram / social media, a bread pudding craze will descend on our shores! ONE CAN DREAM.. 

Hummingbird Bread Pudding (Serves 6) 
Recipe Adapted from Donna Bell's Bakeshop

  • cup whole milk
  • 1  1 greased jumbo muffin tin
  • tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • bananas, 1 mashed, 1 cut into small bites
  • 225g (1 cup) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 4 stale croissants (torn into pieces)
  • Zest + juice of 1 lemon
For the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a jumbo muffin pan with flavourless oil. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add the sugar, salt and spices. Mix in the smashed banana. Fold in the banana pieces, pineapple and white chocolate. Mix in the croissant pieces and let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring after 5 to 10 minutes. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes. (45 minutes if using a serving dish)

Cream Cheese Pecan Sauce
·  60g cream cheese, softened
·  tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
·  tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
·  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
·  1/2 cup toasted crushed pecans, for sprinkling on top
·  Zest + juice of 1/2 lemon

Whip the cream cheese with a spoon, then slowly add in the sugar until smooth. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Let the bread pudding cool slightly, and then drizzle the cream cheese sauce over the warm cake. Top with the toasted pecans.

Baker's Notes
1. The recipe called for regular french bread, but I prefer croissants because they're slightly buttery-er. Stale bread is best because it soaks up more of the custard!
2. The addition of citrus to the custard and sauce gives the pudding a lighter, tangier take.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chocolate Pound Cakes with Cream Cheese Swirl

Muffins are not a new thing. But there’s such a mind boggling amount of recipes, methods and cookbooks out there to tempt one and try all the different combinations. So I did, with ASTOUNDING SUCCESS! If you’re the sort who likes doughey, bready bricks. Meh.

Last week I tried making cream cheese swirl chocolate muffins, using an oil based fat. Even though the muffins puffed like beautiful chocolate mushrooms (Heehee Kinoko No Yama anyone?), the texture was too dense, too gummy.

The failure HOUNDED me throughout the whole of this week, so I devoured my recipe books and finally adapted a pound cake swirl number from Flo Braker. This batter encorporates sour cream, butter and coffee, so expect fluffiness and a deep cocoa flavor. Homemade muffins also mean one has a free reign (HALLELUJAH!) on mix ins, so I tossed in Bailey’s soaked raisins and extra wallop of Bailey’s for that creamy, Irish kick. Voila! If I do say so myself tender, cake like muffins with a tangy cheesecake middle. 

Cheesecake Swirl
·      110g cream cheese, softened
·      1/8 cup (25g) GRANULATED SUGAR
·      1 small egg
CHOCOLATE-SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE (Makes 9 regular muffins)
·      3/8 CUP (90G) WARM COFFEE
·      1 cup + 1 tablespoon CAKE FLOUR
·      1/2 TEASPOON SALT
·      2 EGGS
Before baking: Soak raisins for in Bailey’s liquor for at least 1 hour. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees f (or 325 degrees f if the pan has a dark finish). For the cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and warm coffee until blended; set aside to cool.

To make the Cheesecake Swirl: In a medium bowl, beat the cheese with a rubber spatula just until the cheese is smooth and creamy. Or, use a handheld electric mixer on low, being careful not to whip in too much air. Beat in the sugar until well blended. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined and creamy.

To make the Chocolate-Sour Cream Pound Cake: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until light in color and texture, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, sour cream and Bailey’s to the cooled coffee and stir to combine. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the Bailey’s mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing after each addition until incorporated. Again, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, gently stir in the soaked raisins.  

Spoon half of the batter into each muffin mould and spread it with the rubber spatula, working from the center outward to create a slightly raised ridge around the rim. Carefully spoon 2 tablespoons of cream cheese filling on top. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until the center springs back when lightly touched and a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of cake, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Baker's Notes
1.You can't really taste the Bailey's but the addition makes has that unique sweet Irish caramel fragrance. 
2. Feel free to substitute raisins with chocolate chips or nuts, that's the fun of homemade muffins after all!