Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Creipac

To be honest, at first I wasn't looking forward to our French lessons. And I guess that's single handedly from experience of dreadful Saturday language school.

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. It was about a half an hour drive from the city centre (Noumea). To my surprise, they were some of the best lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made our lessons incredibly interactive. Also, having a small class of 7 students, was really comforting. We all felt comfortable making mistakes and talking with each other all en francais.
3 hours went incredibly quickly, and many of us just long to have language classes like that yet again. 
Our teacher, Ghislaine helped us immensely, I can't thank her enough! It was mostly an emphasis on speaking & listening. The activities we did were fun, for example some of us had to go up and give a short brief description of an imaginary person, based on a single picture we were given. Then, all of us would 'interrogate' the person and ask all sorts of questions.

It also really made me realise and value how much the fact that smaller classes are very beneficial for language classes, and learning a language is something that I feel passionate about (I have yet to master Chinese.. uni?) because the problem with a lot language classes in school, it's too big. Sometimes, a teacher can't handle so many people, and consequently students are timid talking in front of the class. Since I go to a public school, we don't have the luxury of small size classes like private schools.
But I would definitely give the Creipac experience 10/10!

View from the pier opposite. The language centre is nestled in lots of trees, near the mountains! 
The view wasn't too bad either. 
At the end of our lessons, we received fancy certificates saying that we had completed 18 hours of French lessons at the Creipac language centre. 

Merci pour tout Creipac :D 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hummingbird bundt cake

Last year I discovered hummingbird cake. Aunty SS made me a hummingbird cake for my birthday, and I loved it!
Hummingbird cake is practically another version of carrot cake sans the carrot of course. Add pineapple and banana, voila.
This is simply a no fuss cake because personally, I find layer cakes cumbersome. Two reasons:

1) I am not artistic AT ALL. I cannot draw to save my life, so making a layer cake look pretty is the last thing on my mind. I am more of a person who will execute and replicate a recipe, or even a piano piece. I can't listen by ear in music, unlike my second sister who can magically play tunes without the piece in front of her. I unfortunately lack creativity (no I'm not a drone)..

2) It's really troublesome you know. 2, 3, 4 layers yeah whatever. Then you have to put a 'crumb coating' and how do you get your icing to look so clean and cut? I wonder. But I do love the look of layer cakes. I'm just lazy. 
Anyway, punch line is: bundt cakes are so much easier to handle. The glaze? Even easier. Just whip some cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and add a little milk and drizzle. I love uncomplicated things. 
Hummingbird bundt cake with cream cheese glaze
Ingredients
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted (Walnuts or pecans etc)
2 and 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oil (I used sunflower)
2 cups sugar *
4 large eggs, lightly beatened
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 can of crushed pineapple, undrained

*Reduced sugar to 1 & 1/2 

Cream cheese glaze
4 oz (113 g) cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted *
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp milk

*Reduced powdered sugar to 1 & 1/2

Method
1) Preheat oven to 365 degrees F/180 C. Cover bundt pan with non-stick spray (or grease with  butter) and dust with flour
2) Place toasted nuts, flour, baking soda & salt in a bowl and mix until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
3) Transfer to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto wire a rack to cool completely before glazing
4) For the glaze: place cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla in a bowl and mix until combined. Add milk in one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Add more if necessary to achieve a pouring consistency. Drizzle on top of bundt cake. *Optional: finish with finely chopped nuts

Adapted from Bakers royale


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noumea day 1

If there is one word to describe my trip to Noumea, it would be bliss.

Quite literally a trip of my life. Immersion into culture, bonding with my school friends and enjoying the sun pretty much sums it all.
Many people do not know where New Caledonia is. When I try to explain that it's a small French island in the Pacific, near Tahiti and Fiji, many people jump to the conclusion "So basically France?"

Pas exactement- not exactly. How about 17,000 km away from France?

School WITH A VIEW! 
Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia. Think crystal blue waters, white sand and lovely weather. Locals think that '18 C is cold'. Quite the contrary for us Melburnians. We experience freezing, wet winters! 18 C is lovely. 

The Age also wrote an article about it

Its tourism isn't as well developed as many other well known pacific islands but it really does have the potential. So it was a nice change to see that there weren't too many tourists lurking around. A lot of tourists notably from Japan, New Zealand and Australia. I went on an educational tour with my school via GET, which was quite professionally done! 14 students and two teachers.

The trip to the airport was actually pretty exciting, because we've pretty much all never been on a school overseas trip. The plane ride was only about 3 and a half hours, not too long. I sat with my friend Eric and one of the school teachers. We watched quite a few episodes of Friends (my all time fave show) and by the end of it, we were struggling to keep our eyes open. Actually, I think everyone was quite exhausted despite the short flight because it was a reeeeally long day at the airport and arrived in the evening.

  My friend, Yi Shan has a Gopro so she took that everywhere. So handy for group selfies ha ha ha.

There were also several other schools from Australia.

In a later post, I will write about Amedee, an island where we went snorkelling. I would've also loved to see Ile de pins, but we didn't have time to visit there!

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. They were quite literally some of the best oral lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made the activities fun and we all learned from our mistakes. More on my French lessons in a later post.

Anyway, on the first night, we didn't do much because we arrived in the evening. We all had a pretty magnificent burger and a taste of Orangina- the French version of Fanta except that it is less artificial and more bitter..I quite liked it. First night was at the hotel, so us students played cards all night, trying to keep quiet but that really failed. But what do you expect with a bunch of students running wild in a foreign country?

Actually, our definition of 'wild' is playing countless card games........
Next morning, trying to keep our eyes open. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Caledonia


Last week, I came back from my trip to New Caledonia. I was there for 11 days, and they were some of the best days I've had all year (apart from Singapore). 

 The water is so picture perfect, the weather was amazing (Apart from one day where I wore a t-shirt and it was windy & raining. Possibly the worst idea). The trip was for a school French study trip, and I am so glad that I went. I had to really persuade my parents to let me come on this trip (I presented them my case last year), and I am really blessed to have had such a wonderful time there. I'll be of course writing & posting pictures of my adventure in New Caledonia, but that won't be for a while because of exams :( But I had such a lovely time there, I MISS THE COUNTRY SO MUCH ALREADY AND SAYING MERCI TO EVERYONE!
 Ok gotta study study study.. :(


Friday, September 5, 2014

Chilli brownies

So since I did the 40 hour famine, I was asking my older sister to ask her colleagues if they could sponsor me.. And in return, I would bake something! So I have baked oreo cheesecake cupcakes, baked brownies and these chocolate chilli brownies.

Someone requested chocolate chilli brownies, and at first I was quite adamant. "What about just normal brownies?" However, I searched up some recipes.

So I settled on this recipe which gave me a different type of brownie. Normally I bake very dense, fudgy brownies, but these are a little mixture of both: fudgy and a bit cakey, thanks to the addition of baking powder & soda. Now, some of you may be shaking your heads.. "A BROWNIE SHOULD BE COMPLETE FUDGE OTHERWISE, IT'S JUST A CHOCOLATE CAKE." Yes, I can see your argument. But, I became a little bit bit more liberal when I tasted one of my friend's brownies... Cakey, moist with lots of chocolate chunks.

I added dark chocolate chunks and white chocolate chips! And I added a little bit more chilli powder than it asked for which gave it some kick. I think they're pretty good brownies, even though chilli sounds a tad weird. I'll definitely keep this recipe for normal cakey brownies too!

Anyway, this might be my last post for a while, at least for a good 2-3 months! I am going on a very exciting trip soon, and then after that I have my final year 12 VCE biology exam (which actually counts towards my score for next year) and then the rest of my year 11 subjects (that don't count).. I can't wait to rejoice with baking lots of chocoaltey things and devouring many books and having TV marathons.... November, I'm waiting for ya.
Chilli chocolate brownies
Ingredients
230 g unsalted butter
220 dark chocolate, divided in half
1/2 tsp ground chilli
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 shot espresso or 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips or roughly chopped chunks
Icing sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 F
2. Place butter, half the dark chocolate, chilli & mixed spice in a saucepan and gently melt together, stirring to prevent it catching on the bottom
3. Transfer melted chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla extract, espresso, cocoa powder, brown sugar and eggs. Mix well.
4. Sift in flour, baking powder & baking soda and mix until flour is just moistened.
5. Roughly chop the remaining half of the dark chocolate and stir through brownie mixture along with whiter chocolate. Pour into lined 20 cm tin.
6. Bake for 30-35  minutes, until firm around the edges and still slightly soft in the middle.
7. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream

Adapted from Our Kitchen

Friday, August 22, 2014

Peanut butter cookie cheesecake


This is for a dear friend whom I met about 9 years ago, when I first arrived in Australia from Malaysia! My teacher assigned her to show me around and everything, and since then we've come a long way.

We have been in the same class twice in primary school, and we have been in the same class since we were 13 in high school until now. She recently did debutante and I was invited as one of her guests! So honoured and such a fun night.

More than grateful to have a friend like you M.

Anyway these are easy and super tasty. Definitely a crowd pleaser from the raving reviews I got from my friends. Great hybrid like oreo cheesecake ehehehe. So I'm just quickly posting this post because tonight I'm doing the 40 hour famine.. 40 hrs without technology! What will I be doing? Catching up on school work, reading lots of novels & magazines and perhaps going out for a walk (instead of the treadmill!).

Peanut butter cookie cheesecake
Ingredients
1 unsalted stick butter (113 g or 1/2 cup), softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips (or chunks)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 block, 250 g)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Method
1. Make the cookie dough. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I just baked at 350 F or 180 C). Cream butter, sugars, peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add egg & beat well until incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda & salt. Slowly add the flour mixture in with butter & sugar, mixing well after each addition. Stir in oats & chocolate chips.
3. Make cheesecake filling. Cream cream cheese, egg, sugar & vanilla until smooth.
4. Press half to 2/3s of the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour the cheesecake filling over the dough. Crumble remaining dough and sprinkle over the top or roll it into a flat layer and place it over the cheesecake layer.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and cheesecake is set. Serve warm or cold, and store leftover bars in the fridge.

Adapted from Pinch of yum

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ottolenghi's chocolate fudge cake

 So my eldest sister has been requesting me for the past few months to make this: Ottolenghi's chocolate fudge cake. He has a bakery in the London which I would love to go to. I mean look at the picture...
Source: Triptease.com
Let me warn you that this is a chocolate cake not for the faint-hearted. This is a true chocoholic's dream (and I have a chocoholic family).
There's a lot of chocolate and butter involved. And you bake it twice! I accidentally used a big cake pan because I thought the mixture was going to over-flow, so my cake was rather flat. The texture of this cake is incredibly fudgy with a crackly top, almost like a brownie, but a bit on the lighter side since you have whipped egg whites. It's also not too sweet. Unlike the other flourless chocolate cake I made (using almond meal), it's more rich & dense.

The cake is indeed quite rich, and berries would complement it real well. Or even with ice cream. It's also pretty delicious when warmed in the microwave..Think warm fudgy cake.. 

But do you know what also goes really well with this? Green tea ice cream. We had a family lunch with my two sisters' boyfriends and my mum made some Malaysian food and I made this cake and green tea ice cream. Combine chocolate & green tea and voila, c'est super

Ottolenghi's chocolate fudge cake
Serves 8-10
Ingredients
240 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
265 g dark chocolate (52% cocoa), chopped
95 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
290 g light muscovado sugar (I just used light brown sugar) *
4 tbsp water
5 large eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
Cocoa powder for dusting
* I reduced the sugar to about 250 g

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
2. Butter a 20 cm (8 inch) springform pan and line bottom & sides with parchment/baking paper.
3. In a large heat proof bowl, combine chopped chocolates & butter and melt.
4. Combine the brown sugar/muscovado sugar with water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Pour the boiling syrup over the chocolate & butter and stir until they have melted.
5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time to chocolate mixture and then set the bowl aside until the mixture comes to room temperature.
6. In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites & salt to a firm but not dry meringue.
7. Pour 2/3rds of the batter into your prepared pan (about 800 g, saving the remaining batter for later)
8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven, and leave it on a wire rack to cool completely. Flatten the cake with an offset spatula, don't worry about breaking the surface crust and pour the rest of the batter on top.
10. Level the surface again. Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. When tested with a skewer, the cake should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
11. Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing it. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.

Adapted from Ottolenghi's cook book (via Not so humble pie)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Browned butter chocolate chunk cookie cups

To wrap up the end of the first semester, I wanted to whip up something quick and fast.. A portable dessert to feed some hungry friends of mine at school! Thursday I was rather lazy, so I just helped my mum cook some curry (With roti jala!) and watched Masterchef.. Cause ya know.. It's the end of the term! Thursday is essentially filled with 'Friday vibes'.

Semester 1 of year 11 was pretty tough.And what's coming ahead is supposedly even harder. I've learned to sort of cope with it now, at the beginning it was quite a transition.

So I'm promising  myself to a better semester 2! Even though I've only got 2 weeks of holiday, it's already jammed packed with outings & devoting my time to studying and NOT PROCRASTINATING.

These remind me a bit of the mini honey buns.. Everything mini looks great.

Anyway I didn't get great pictures because of the lighting. Food bloggers, you'll know what I mean when there's not much natural light and it's so frustrating to take pictures of food! Nevertheless, these were awesomely delicious. Have it warm and you'll have chocolate oozing with the dough crumbling in your mouth. Have it at room temp and it'll be nice, soft and chewy! Either way, it's a nice cookie.

Would I make these again? Absolutely. These are fantastic or parties/gatherings or really for just a quick cookie fix.

Browned butter chocolate chunk cookie cups
Ingredients
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, browned
1 large egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups bread flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup bread flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, optional and to taste
1 and 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 F(180 C) and spray or grease a 12 standard-sized muffin tin (I used a mini-muffin tray) with floured cooking spray or butter.
2. Melt butter in a skillet, over medium-low heat, stirring continuously. The butter will melt, foam, turn clear, golden, turn brown and smell nutty. As soon as the butter begins to turn brown, take the pan off the heat and continue to stir for about 1 minute, to make sure that the heat doesn't continue the browned butter.
3. Pour butter into a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool, so you don't scramble the egg.
4. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and whisk until smooth.
5. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Distribute amongst the muffin pans, about 2/3-3/4 cup full.The cookies don't rise much.
7. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until tops have set and are golden. If you are using a mini-muffin tin, cut the baking time, or just be wary not to over-bake them.
8. Allow cookies to cool in the pan and remove them.

Cookies keep up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temp or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Adapted from Averie cooks

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hiatus

Source: Averie cooks
I haven't posted for almost a month, so it's been quite a while. I have been baking but nowadays, I've become a little lazy to photograph it, and since it's winter here in Australia, it get darks pretty early! But anyway, I made Averie cooks apple cheesecake bar without the salted caramel sauce (because that failed), and it had the most incredible cheesecake base. I'll definitely have to make that again one day! I also made Sally's baking addiction lemon cheesecake bars. It's more convenient to bake cheesecakes in square tins, and I don't even bake them in a water bath. Plus, it's very portable, so cheesecake bars are a great dessert to bring to parties etc.

Anyway, I wrote this piece for the Huffington Post. See, I'm rather ashamed that I can't speak Mandarin or Cantonese fluently. Sometimes I'll have to mix Cantonese and Mandarin if I need to talk to someone who doesn't know English.. I was forced to attend Chinese school, and I suppose, just being that little ignorant girl, I didn't take advantage of it. I guess I was sort of influenced by culture and peers in Australia, and I also went to a primary school where I was quite literally the only Malaysian there.

But anyway, now I'm older and I understand things better. All it took was one trip to Beijing to see Uncle D & Aunty M and that really gave me a reality check that Chinese, let alone any foreign language is extremely useful. I'm hoping to study Mandarin during university or sometime in the near future. So go ahead and read it, and feel free to let me know your thoughts!

ALSO I HAVE A TUMBLR for photography and other things.. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Birthday cookies!

These are birthday cookies for my older sister. I've made these cookies before, but somehow I feel like the second time round was even better. I used 1/2 cup oat flour AND an additional 3/4 cup rolled oats to give the traditional oatmeal cookie chewiness.
The espresso/coffee granules is a nice touch to complement the dark chocolate and heartiness of oats. The best way to eat these cookies are freshly baked from the oven (state the obvious) with a sprinkle of salt and a cold glass of milk.
The first time I made these, were with macadamias. However my sister requested no macadamia nuts!One of my good friends really dislikes nuts in any baked goods..Even walnuts in brownies. Her claim is "It tastes too healthy!!!" But these are very nice with macadamia nuts too.

Oh and side note.. Look at the pretty cheesecake my mum made for my sister!I'd say it's 'triple chocolate' because there are white chocolate shavings, a chocolate ganache and the cheesecake is chocolate too. The base is a combination of wafers, oreos and different biscuits.  Great cake!
Happy birthday to my older sister!

Dark chocolate espresso oatmeal cookies
Makes 18 cookies
Ingredients
165 unsalted butter melted (3/4 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2-1 and 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I increased this to 2 tsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, finely ground in food processor
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chunks/chips
*additional 3/4 cup oats (optional)
* 1 cup roasted macadamias (optional)

Recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line a tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine melted butter with both sugars. Add egg & yolk and mix until incorporated.
3. Stir in salt, coffee & vanilla.
4. Add flour, oats & baking soda and mix until just combined
5. Stir in chocolate chunks and chopped nuts (if using).
6. Use a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon to scoop balls of dough onto prepared trays.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden around the outside and just set in the middle (under-bake for a chewier cookie). Allow to cool on trays.
Adapted from Butter baking

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Snaps

So my so-called 'holiday journal' was a complete failure. But in my defense, I was literally at home for the past two weeks apart from a few outings..
At home/outdoors


- TV show marathons (Falling off my chair when my favourite team gets eliminated from the Amazing race)
- Bake a lot. I made double chocolate hot cross buns twice.. The second time due to my sister's insistent demand of wanting something chocolatey. But I don't blame her. She's studying for her actuarial exams (brainy) and is rather quite stressed.. Chocolate is everyone's friend, people! I also roasted a chicken for the first time, made panna cotta with berries, brownies, tortillas... mhmmm..
- Throughout the week, the weather was really lovely! Blue skies, crisp autumn air. Gave me a chance to wear my favourite sunglasses from Sportsgirl when I went out for some walks.
- Read three books. A little disappointed I didn't read more.
- Holiday hw. How mundane. I struggled to pick up a pen because I felt so lazy.That biology book you see up there? Not the greatest source of reference.. As much as biology excites me, this textbook doesn't. Slabs of writing and an insufficient amount of diagrams (diagrams are usually the best way to learn with bio).

Some interesting outings
- Watched Captain America 2 and Spiderman 2. Some serious good movies.
The most attractive couple I've ever seen.
- Had lunch & dessert with friends.
- Went to the beautiful State library in the city to study for barely 2 hours with friends. The majority of the time? We ended up spending most of our time having brunch at Manchester press club and Starbucks & Cacao green. And a little bit of shopping. #soproductive
Source: Google
OH AND I finally sat for my Learner's driver's knowledge test so I can start driving soon! Probably should've done it.. A YEAR AGO, but I was a little lazy and I'm still worried about being a hazard to other drivers on the road..

So quite an unproductive, lazy 2 week break and I am not ready to go back to reality...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oreo cheesecake brownies

I just love baking hybrids; nutella pretzel brownies, cream cheese brownies, cookies and cream cupcakes and I'm dying to make these twix cookie dough cheesecake bars (how ridiculous do they sound?). So this is where brownie meets cheesecake and oreos.. C'est delicieux!

My second sister had to bring most of the batch to her colleagues, in fear that we'd end up eating the whole tray.. Bakers, I'm sure you'd understand the dangers. I love this recipe because you basically smother a nice thick layer of cream cheese in the middle and then put more brownie batter on top. Not only does the cream cheese layer look effortless, it tastes heavenly. Enough said, give these a try!

Oreo cheesecake brownies
Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 oz or 250 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 and 1/3 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a baking pan and line with parchment/baking paper.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Then whisk in sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk frequently, boil for a minute. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. In a bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand), beat together cream cheese, confectioners' sugar & vanilla extract until combined, about 1 minute.
4. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder & salt. Whisk until combined.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs until combined. Whisk in melted butter-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until combined, followed by Oreos.
6. Spear half of the brownie batter into an 8 inch baking dish, then followed by a cream cheese layer. Then, distribute the remaining brownie mixture, spreading it evenly. Swirl with a knife if desired.
7. Bake for 24-28 minutes, until brownies & cheesecake are set. Insert a knife into the cheesecake mixture, and it should come out clean. Edges will be lightly browned.
8. Let it cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.
*Tip I read from Smitten Kitchen: Freeze them after it has cooled down, so it's easier to cut them.

Adapted from Sweet pea's kitchen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holiday diary:Day Four

I thought it'd be fun just to take a few snaps as a 'holiday diary', despite it being the 4th day already. I'm on my term 1 break, for two weeks. It's been pretty glorious. For example, yesterday I did nothing but had an Amazing race marathon (new season of course)..

DAY FOUR
I baked two types of brownies today; my favourite Baked ones and oreo cheesecake (recipe coming soon)! So decadent. Dw, I'm trying not to eat the whole tray; my older sister is taking them to work for her colleagues to sample..

Melbourne weather has been much colder lately (isn't it strange how we're experiencing fall/autumn while the northern hemisphere is experiencing spring?) so I wore my fluffy robe I received as a bday present a couple years ago, and H & M socks which I bought from Singapore.

I had dinner & dessert with my two sisters in the city after they finished working which was really nice! We went to a ramen bar and then went to the Lindt cafe to share waffles & chocolate lava cake.

I've also been reading my French tutor's book which is quite challenging, despite it designed for les enfants, but it's definitely helping with my recognition of sentence structures. And I'm writing down  new vocabulary.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flourless peanut butter cookies


 I always crave for a cookie. Why do you think I have posted 9 recipes of cookies on my blog? Brown butter chocolate chip, being my favourite (and also a household favourite). The Brown butter choc chip recipe is from Ambitious kitchen, and so are these flourless peanut butter cookies! I've also made her snickerdoodles.. All, have been executed with success.
These literally take about 5 minutes to whip up. It uses one whole cup of peanut butter. And a good, hearty amount of oats and dark chocolate chunks! I'm an avid peanut butter eater, so it's only perfect for pb-lovers.
These aren't your traditional kind of cookies. They're a little bit more chewy, and seriously take my advice when I say to warm these up so you have melty chocolate bits and drink with a cold glass of milk. I also like to sprinkle a little sea salt on top (something I learnt from reading food blogs).

Flourless peanut butter cookies
*Makes 16-20 cookies
Ingredients
. 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not natural)
. 2/3 cup brown sugar
. 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
. 2 large eggs
. 2/3 cup rolled oats
. 1 tsp baking soda
. 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 /350 F.
2. In a small bowl, mix together oats & baking soda. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer (or by hand) until smooth. Mix in dry ingredients and then gently fold in chocolate chips/chunks.
4. Roll cookies into 2-inch dough balls. The dough should be pretty sticky. You can use an ice scream scoop/cookie scoop as an alternative.
5. Bake for 9-11 minutes, remove when edges start to turn golden brown.They will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven.
6.  Cool for 2 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Ambitious kitchen

Monday, March 24, 2014

Predicaments

I baked two cakes for my birthday. But there's a story behind this. I think some people may think I'm a little crazy to bake two cakes, but I'm just a person who refuses to give up and, rather a perfectionist. I'm an Aries, and I saw this on Buzzfeed which are all freakishly correct traits of me; "When things don't go your way, you don't handle it... super well."

I'll give you a silly anecdote. A few years ago, I walked out of my piano exam and I was picked up by my second sister & dad. I was crying all the way home, because I felt like I didn't go as well as I would've wanted to. Next week I found out the result.. My result was an A. To this day, my sister still makes fun of me.
So I thought I had ruined my birthday mango cheesecake with an oreo base, because the sides of the base were a little soggy when I baked it in the waterbath. So I made another cheesecake, a Japanese cheesecake. Next morning, I cut a bit of the mango cheesecake; IT'S NOT ACTUALLY THAT BAD. And decided to go along with that cake for my birthday dinner.

Lessons learned: Double check that your spring-form pan is secure and wrapped around tightly with foil. You do not want soggy cheesecake base. And I don't think I'm going to bake my 18th birthday cake next year.

I cannot believe that I'm already 17, and a legal adult next year.. My sisters have been asking me "How did you grow up so fast?", which I can't answer to. I honestly feel like a fourteen year old... Not someone who is not far from finishing high school and entering the real adult world.
Mango cheesecake
My mango cheesecake was a semi-predicament; it didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, but it wasn't horrible. The base was a little hard to cut, and I was basically murdering the cake when I was cutting it to serve. But on the positive note, it was a hit. I really did not need to make another cheesecake...

But then I had another predicament. On Sunday night, my Samsung S2 which I've had for a year DIED. I was using it then suddenly it completely shut off itself. I can't turn it on anymore. I tried charging it, this that.. So I've been quite annoyed and it's extremely inconvenient when all of your contacts have been lost... So this calls for a new phone. But this won't be for a while :(

So I had a Japanese cheesecake to photograph. I used Diana's desserts recipe, the one I used for the cupcakes! But this time I used it for a bigger cake and it was very very delicious. As fluffy as it could be and a little spongy! One thing I would recommend is to strain your cheese mixture before adding the egg-whites, if there are any lumps. And add a tad more sugar because it's not very sweet.

Fellow bakers, what kind of baking disasters have you had?

Asides from these predicaments (small predicaments, I must say), I had a wonderful birthday surrounded by friends and family!

Japanese cheesecake
Ingredients 
140 (5 oz) sugar *I'd increase to about 160 g.
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50 g (2 oz) butter
250 g (9 oz) cream cheese
100 ml/3 oz milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
60 g (2 oz) cake flour/superfine flour *I just added more cornflour since I don't have cake flour.
20 g (1 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions
1. Melt cream cheese & butter & milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, cornflour, egg yolks and lemon juice & mix well.
2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
3. Add cheese mixture to egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into an 8 inch round cake pan (grease and line the bottom & sides of the pan with parchment paper).
4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until set & golden brown at 160 degrees Celsius (325 F)

Adapted from Diana's desserts