Aug 20, 2010

Apple Caramel Scones

This is my first time baking in the oven in my new house and needless to say I was very apprehensive. What if my baking streak was all due to my oven at home?!! Thankfully, the baking gods were on my side when I made these scones.

I have been in love with making scones every since the orange cranberry scones. They are so easy to make and with my mistake (great discovery) with the cake flour, they are even better than ever!

I decided to make these scones for an office picnic. The apple scones by itself is a bit bland so I put a caramel topping on it. yummy! Here's the recipe, it's basically the same recipe as the Orange Cranberry scones just with some minor adjustments.

p.s. Has any of you ever tried cleaning your oven using the self cleaning button? I tried that today and boy was it amazing!! I normally just clean my oven manually, but I thought I would give this "clean" button a try. The oven looks brand new now, I'm really impressed. The eco-friendly side of me is saying I used way too much electricity cleaning the oven this way. Basically what it does is heat up your oven till it's really really hot, the residue in the oven then turns into dust and all you have to do is wipe it off. The problem is your oven is heated for about 2 hours!!! Mother earth or lazy me? ouvei! Here's the recipe.

Apple Caramel Scones
adapted from Baking Illustrated

7 oz all purpose flour
3 oz cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup apple, diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the flours, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Whisk together or process with six 1-second pulses.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. If using a food processor, remove the cover and distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with twelve 1-second pulses. Add the apples and quickly mix in or pulse one more time. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

4. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer the dough and all dry flour bits to a counter top and knead the dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds.

6. Pat the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Punch out dough rounds with a biscuit cutter. Push together the remaining pieces of dough, pat into a 3/4 inch thick round, and punch out several more dough rounds. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Caramel Sauce
adapted from My kitchen cafe

7 soft caramel candies
1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream

1. Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle on scones.

Aug 16, 2010

Spaghetti with chicken, garlic and cumin

Mr. G and I finally moved in together and for our first dinner together in our new home, I made spaghetti with chicken, garlic and cumin. My sister gave me this recipe awhile ago and this is the second time I made it. The original recipe doesn't include chicken, but we needed some protein so I added some chicken breast.

I love this dish, it's so easy to make! I love Italian and Indian food, and this recipe combines my two favorites. Pasta with Indian's so good! Here's the recipe.

Spaghetti with Chicken, Garlic and Cumin
adapted from Bon App├ętit, December 2002

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 first-course servings

2 chicken breast
1/4 cup olive oil (see note)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (see note)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (see note)
12 ounces spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

1. Season chicken breast with salt and black pepper. Pan fry chicken breast on both sides until they are cooked. Allow the breasts to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into slices.

2. Mix first olive oil, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and red pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain spaghetti, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add oil mixture and toss over medium heat to coat, about 1 minute, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

  • *The original recipe does not include chicken.
  • *The original recipe uses 1/2 cup of olive oil, I thought 1/4 cup was more than enough.
  • *The original recipe uses parsley, I love cilantro, so I substituted it.

Aug 5, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I made this decadent chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for my coworker for her birthday. She's a big peanut butter fan and I searched for peanut butter recipes and came across this.This was actually a variation of a previous Daring Baker challenge. I remember this being a very good cheesecake recipe, so I decided on this recipe.

I made a few changes to the recipe. First of all, I halved the recipe. I also omitted some steps, just out of pure laziness and exhaustion. I also made a different crust just because I wanted to use up some chocolate wafers I had.

The result is a very rich chocolate peanut butter cheesecake!! I loved the combination of the chocolate ganache, cheesecake and the crust! yummy!! Here are the recipes.

Chocolate wafer crust
from All recipes

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Mix crumbs and melted butter or margarine until well blended. Press into a 7 inch springform pan. Chill until firm.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
adapted from Dinner and Dessert

1 1/2 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 12 oz) room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Combine cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter, and melted chocolate in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add egg and mix until it's fully incorporated. Add heavy cream and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath.

5. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill.

Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Dinner and Dessert

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

2. Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Working with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motions. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients- the less you work it, the darker, smoother, and shinier it will be.

3. Pour ganache over chilled cheesecake, and refrigerate until set.

  • *The original recipe for the Chocolate Peanut butter cheesecake uses a peanut butter cookie crust. It also has peanut patties in it, and it's topped with reese's peanut butter cups! All sound like wonderful inclusions, I was just too lazy! =) Check out Erin's original recipe here!

Aug 1, 2010

Swiss swirl ice cream cake-Daring Baker

I have been a horrible daring baker. I missed the last two daring baker challenges and I'm really late on July's challenge. Better late than never right?!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

I made this swiss swirl ice cream cake using a vanilla swiss roll and a lime sorbet. This cake was the dessert for my friend's baby shower and it was a hit! Yipee!! I personally had a problem with it. My problem was the texture of the cake didn't quite match the texture of the sorbet. I think a regular ice cream might have been better. By the time the cake got to a softer consistency, the sorbet was already melted.

I ended up eating the sorbet part on its own, then waited for the cake to thaw a bit and finished it off then. I have to say I love the sorbet!!! I will definitely make other sorbets using this recipe. I'm thinking of lychee sorbet with a bit of mint?! Here are the recipes.

Swiss roll ice cream cake
inspired by Taste of Home

For the cake:
6 medium sized eggs
1 cup of caster sugar + extra for rolling
10 tbsp of all purpose flour, sifted (see note)
2 tbsp of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

1. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.

3. Add the flour, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.

4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.

5. Place the pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the center is springy to the touch.

6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.

7. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.

For the filling:
2 cup of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tbsp of caster sugar

1. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.

2. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.

3. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of 1/2 an inch should be fine).

4. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Lime Sorbet
From Cook's Illustrated, Entertaining Spring 2009

2 tsp zest from three or four limes
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cup cold water
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar (see note)

1. Combine zest, lime juice, water, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir on and off for several minutes until sugar is dissolved. (Rub finger along bottom of bowl to see if sugar has dissolved.)

2. Pour mixture into airtight container. Refrigerate until mixture is no more than 40 degrees. (if mixture has been stirred over bowl of ice water, it may already be cold enough, and this step may be omitted.)

3. Pour chilled mixture into container of ice cream machine and churn until frozen. Freeze.


1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices (approximately 2 cms each ).

2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm (at least 1 hour).

5. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

6. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

  • *The original recipe uses 1 tbsp of vodka, but since I was making this for my pregnant friend, I omitted it. Cooks illustrated states that the alcohol improves the texture of the sorbet.

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