Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cookie monster

I'm a bit of a cookie monster. Are you?
 Symptoms of a cookie monster: 
1. Constantly thinking "Me want cookie!"
2. Eating multiple cookies like there's no tomorrow. In other words, puts off planned diet for cookies.
3. Asks their mother to buy chocolate chips or some form of chocolate from the supermarket like all the time.
4. Risking your health to eat a bit of raw cookie dough on the way.

M & M cookies always attract kids. I know it caught my attention, as a 2nd grader. Something as simple as chewy rainbow M & M cookies from the grocery bakery was something enough to satisfy my appetite. And after all, doesn't colour attract everyone?

Even the smell coming from the oven of freshly baked cookies, always hits me each time; bringing back nostalgia. I think somebody ought to get me a cookie-scented candle perhaps?

Don't be shy to load this cookie with M & Ms. I decided to put one cup AND in addition, pressed some outside to give it a nicer look.

Dunking a warm cookie with cold milk is a true favourite. A true classic favourite of a cookie monster.
M&M cookies
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks or 170 g) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&Ms (+ more if you want to press more before you bake them)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (I just did 180 C).
2. Mix flour, baking soda and cornstarch in a bowl.
3. With an electric mixer (or by hand), cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
4. Gradually add flour mixture until the dough forms. Fold in the mini M&Ms.
5. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (or up to 5 days, covered) in the fridge. Drop by tablespoonfuls or roll into balls on parchment paper. Press a few more M&Ms on top for more decorations. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned (My oven took a bit longer, about 15 minutes, yet it was still soft and chewy!)

Adapted from Sally's Baking addiction

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hyper-inflated lung with emphysema

For the past few weekends, I've had full baking sessions at home. I've been taking in orders, to raise funds for a charity. I will update more on that later this year, once I make my total count of my earnings and when I send it off! I've been so overwhelmed with the support I've had from many friends. It's been really tiring though, frosting dozens of cupcakes, cutting brownies and rolling cookie dough. Cheesecake brownies and red velvet cupcakes were the best selling. I myself would buy them too :)  So, I apologise for not updating regularly!

This week has been science week at my school. I don't really think anyone knows how much I love science. Biology is definitely one of my favourite subjects, because I love the content and it can also be applicable to real life. We are learning about hormones and the nervous system, which is my favourite topic out of everything so far, besides the circulatory system! In other words, I'm fascinated by the human body particularly, and also other aspects of science. Oh.. Except I detest physics (sorry dad!). Anyway, my friend Aruni and I decided to enter the annual science cake baking competition. There are many students out there that bring insane-looking science cakes each year (e.g Isaac Newton's apple incident cake had chocolate branches and fondant...). We made a 'hyper-inflated lung with emphysema' (credits to her for coming up with the name). It was so much fun to make, and I have to say, it looks quite realistic. It's cool yet creepy at the same time. Let me know what your thoughts are!

The lung without the ribs is supposed to look damaged. One of the lungs is made out of rainbow vanilla cake and the other one as well as the heart, is made out of chocolate cake. It's all buttercream icing (not my favourite, but it's the easiest to work with). The ribs are made out of CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Pretty tasty.

We actually WON the competition, tying first place with another student. We won a junior Masterchef apron each; something I can wear in the kitchen now. So proud of our hard work. Definitely entering again next year :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

High school politicians and cheesecake brownies

So I came back from the UN Than Evatt competition (similar to the UN model comp in many countries) on Friday... I will just say that I was completely astounded by how intellectual all these year 11s and 12s sound (I felt so little... yet I'm 'tall') communicated with each other, and actually could just think on the spot after some kind of ambiguous or long winded question?! The whole debate was at a pretty fast pace and since it was my first time though, I was quite intimidated at first! But the candidates were really nice, I also had a supportive partner and even though I didn't get to speak much, it was a good experience! I would love to do it again next year.

Anyway, sorry I have a bit of a bad habit to ramble in my food posts..I know some of you are like "WILL YOU JUST GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT?"
I created these cream cheese brownies, however I decided to do shake the recipe up a bit. I just basically doubled the batter for a bigger pan instead of an 8 by 8 inch pan (so extra thick chocolate brownie baby!) with lots of cream cheese swirled and swirled and please dear God, do not over-bake it. I literally just cannot tolerate over-baked brownies that are dry and cakey. What kind of brownie is that?
Without a doubt, this will make a crowd pleaser. It's far too easy to make, and it looks great; it's hard to 'over-swirl'. Who doesn't like huge chunks of cream cheese? My eldest sister also exclaimed "It's the best thing you've ever made!" I should probably get the recipe along with the Baked brownie recipe framed...

Of course, if you don't want such a gigantic, brownie square, you can just opt out and cut the recipe in half. Eat this straight from the fridge, which is fudgey and the classic cheesecake taste or at room temperature. However, you can also warm it up which are both my sisters' favourite ways to eat it. Don't be put off by the sound of 'warm' cheesecake.. It's a hybrid okay! Cheesecake brownies are awesome warm, with a scoop of ice cream. Period.

What's your favourite kind of cheesecake to eat? Mine is oreo cheesecake!

Cheesecake brownies
*Yields 16 huge squares: 5 cm x 5 cm squares or 2 inch x 2 inch.
Brownie batter
2 sticks (226 g or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
170 g (6 ounces) dark chocolate
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
340 g (12 ounces) cream cheese, well softened *
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk (use 2 if the batter is too thick)

*There is supposed to be 16 ounces in the batter if the recipe is doubled, but I felt that there would be too much!

1/2 cup chocolate chips to put on top *optional

Brownie batter method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C and butter a 9 x 13 inch pan (22 x 20 cm) pan or line it with parchment paper.
2. Heat butter and chocolate over a double boiler,although you could probably do it in the microwave as well. Whisk occasionally, until melted.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Cheesecake batter method:
1. Whisk cheesecake batter ingredients together until smooth . Dollop over brownie batter and swirl with a knife or spatula.
2. Bake brownies for about 32 minutes, until the centre is just set. Do not over bake it!

* Smitten Kitchen's tip: Chill brownies until almost frozen before cutting them. This makes it easier to get a clean slice.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen