Sunday, 30 December 2012

Black Forest Trifle Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:19 pm

Annual Christmas dinner was at my Uncle's place. As usual, it's pot luck and as usual, I bring the dessert. Though last year I took my quinoa with chickpea, spinach and haloumi but that didn't go down so well. Most of my family isn't that adventurous when it comes to food. So I'd best stick to more familiar desserts.

Keeping to the Aussie Christmas theme, I decided to make trifle. Personally, I'm not the biggest a fan of trifle. Jelly, custard, fruit and sponge… all great things individually but together… the party becomes a little awkward in my mouth. Not this one though.

With the cherry season in fully swing and this year it's an awesome season too, it is the best time to make use of the seasonal produce. And a great recipe to celebrate the greatness of cherry and chocolate – Black forest. I also found a white chocolate and raspberry trifle cake in the latest Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 66, page 100). So adapting this, I present my black forest trifle cake. Credit for the chocolate custard goes to Poh, from Emmanuel Mollois chocolate ├ęclair recipe. I stayed pretty close to this recipe, though I think in future I could cut down the sugar.

Below, I've split the recipe in parts then the steps to build it. There are a fair few steps, so best to make this at least a day ahead of time.

Cherry jelly
1 packet of store bought jelly – 85g (I used raspberry, but you can use cherry or port)
~400g fresh cherries, cut in half and de-stoned
250ml boiling water (as per jelly instructions)
200ml room temperature water (as per jelly instructions)

1. Prepare the cherries – wash, cut in half and de-stone. Place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

2. Following the packet instructions prepare the jelly. (Usually, dissolve the packet’s contents into 250ml boiling water, then 200ml of room temperature water.)

3. In a shallow dish, line the dish with about a third of the prepared cherries. Pour the jelly over. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set (about 4 hours).

Chocolate custard
200ml of cream
130ml milk
4 egg yolk
60g caster sugar (I'd cut it down to 45 to 50g as the cream and milk are sweet too)
165g dark chocolate, roughly chopped/cubed

1. In a medium bowl, bring to a boil the cream and milk.

2. While waiting for cream mixture to boil, combine egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl and whisk immediately until they become a pale gold. (This is actually cooking the eggs.)

3. Add cream mixture to the egg mixture in one pour, stir slightly then return mixture to the pot you used to boil the cream and milk. On very low heat, be sure not to boil, continue stirring until all the bubbles have disappeared, the mixture becomes a little thick and creamy. You can tell the mixture is ready when it coats the back of the spoon, you run your finger along the back and the mixture doesn't move into the space where you've just run your finger. If you’re not following what I mean, refer to Poh's video (link above).

4. Remove from heat and add chocolate and continue to stir until all the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl, allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set (a few hours or overnight).

Chocolate cake
250g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (~350g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
2/3 cup (100g) self-raising flour, sifted
3 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 120C. Lightly grease and line with baking paper, a 24cm round cake tin.

2. Place butter, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until chocolate has melted and mixture appears smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside to cool slightly. Add both flours, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow cake to cool completely in the tin before turning cake out onto a wire rack.

Building the trifle cake
80ml (1/3 cup) water
1/3 cup caster sugar
45ml kirsch (1.5 shot) Prepared cake
300ml thickened cream
1tspn vanilla essence
1/4 cup icing sugar
Remaining cherries from cherry jelly (above)
Prepared jelly
Prepared chocolate custard
Shaved chocolate (garnish)

1. In a small saucepan, combine water, caster sugar and kirsch over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2. Place cake onto serving plate. Place a 20cm plate on top of the cake. Using a small sharp knife, make about a 3cm deep cut around the plate. Remove the plate and cut a chequered pattern of 2.5cm squares in the round. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the squares. In the original recipe it says to place scooped out cake squares in the kirsch mixture to absorb the liquid. However, I don’t think there is enough space left in the cake to return these cubes. So I used them in a traditional trifle (along with the left overs of the other parts – custard, fruit, jelly, kirsch and cream).

3. Beat cream, icing sugar and vanilla until firm peaks. The volumes I've stated above are approximate. You'll need to keep tasting to suit your liking. Cocoa is added for colour, flavour and the bitterness, so balance this with the icing sugar. Be sure as you add to the sugar, you sift it in to avoid lumps.

4. Sprinkle some of kirsch mixture over the base of the cake just to moisten and flavour (not to soak). 

Do you think you're ready for this jelly! :p
5. Add sheets of jelly to line the cake cavity. 

6. Spread custard over the jelly. 

7. Carefully place the halved cherries onto of the custard to cover top. 

8. Top the cake with chocolate cream and any remaining cherries to garnish. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

9. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Merry Christmas and enjoy!

Note: As mentioned above, with the left over bits, I made a "traditional" style trifle. This involves layers, starting with cake, kirsch, jelly, custard then fruit. Then cake and kirsch, cream to finish off. Bonus! Two dishes!

Not very attractive slice but delicious!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Vegan Inari Sushi with Teriyaki “Duck”

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:56 am

 Christmas eve dinner was with a vegetarian household with 3 kids under the age of 12. So I was thinking to make something interesting but not too weird. A quick trip to the Asian grocery store resulted in this of idea. Inari sushi pockets with teriyaki flavoured mock-duck. This Inari dish was very successful. Really tasty and really simple and vegan (and obviously vegetarian) friendly too. 

You can have all different toppings (not just mock duck). Other suggestions include: mushroom, seaweed salad, real meat (for the carnivores out there), corn, fish roe, the list goes on. Or you can just have it plain or a little peppering of sesame seeds. What's your favourite topping?

Quick tip, please don't give into Australian supermarket marketing and buy "sushi rice". It's just medium grain rice packaged in a fancy label. 

1 can mock duck, drain and sliced into small strips
2 Tblspn mirin
2 Tblspn soy sauce
1 to 2 tspns sugar (white, raw or caster)
oil for stir frying
1 cup medium grain rice
Water (as per rice cooking instructions – absorption method)
3 Tblspn rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tblspn sugar (white, raw or caster)
1/2 tspn salt
2 Tblspn sesame seeds
1 to 1 1/2 packets of aburage (bean curd pouches) – available at the Asian grocery store

Aburage - bean curd pockets

1. Boil rice as per packet instructions (stove, microwave, rice cooker – whatever suits you).

2. Marinate mock duck with mirin, soy sauce of 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes or more.

3. On high heat a medium skillet, add oil to coat the base of the pan and add the marinated mock duck. Stir to heat through and reduce heat to medium and allow sauce to caramelise. If you find it starting to stick or get too dry, add a dash of water. Remove from heat and set aside, keep warm.

4. In small pot, combine vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and salt. Heat to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

5. Add vinegar mixture to cooked rice and stir through. This gives the rice that lovely flavour. Stir in sesame seeds.

6. Unpack the aburage, drain away the liquid. Gently separate the opening and fill with prepared rice to about 3/4 the way. Top with mock-teriyaki duck. Repeat with remaining pockets. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and serve. Can be eaten slightly warm or at room temperature. Best eaten fresh.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies with Pandan Royal Icing

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:46 pm

Here I was thinking my previous post would be the last one for the year as I was due to travel for the rest of the year. That was abruptly cut short, thanks to Cyclone Evan who hit Fiji on the 17th Dec 2012. We experienced the brunt of this category 4 hurricane that got up to 290km/hr winds.  Evan wreaked this country and my holiday. So we decided to cut our loses and come back home for Christmas. So lucky for you folks, more cooking and more blogging to come from me before 2013.

So this is a first for me – gingerbread “things”. As it's the season, there are those who always make their Christmas thing. Be that rum balls, Pavlova,  turkey, trifle, shortbread or <insert your signature Christmas thing>. See! You know what I mean. For me, I'm a bit fickle. Some years it would be turkey, or ham, or some new random recipe. One year it was pineapple and coconut truffles. This time, I'm putting to use my cookie cutters and my latest obsession – PANDAN.

As I'm sure you know, there are millions of gingerbread recipes out there. Most of them very similar. For me, I like them chewy. So I modified this American recipe from Brown Eyed Baker and for the icing, this recipe was the first one I found that was sound. Many Australian recipes call for golden syrup and American ones call for molasses. I decided to use treacle – something in-between.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger (or 1.5tablespoons if you like the gingery taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
170g butter, cut into pieces and softened slightly (room temp)
3/4 cup treacle (you can also use molasses or golden syrup – depending how rich and dark you want it)
2 tablespoons milk

1. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda. stir in the sugar. Using a cake mixer with dough hook, add butter and mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal.

2. On low speed, with mixer running, gradually add treacle (quarter cup at a time) and milk (tablespoon at a time) alternating, starting and finishing with treacle. Mix until dough is evenly moistened then increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

3. Turn dough onto a  clean work surface and divide in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll half a centimetre thick between two large sheets of baking paper. If you want them chewier – make them thicker, if you want it crispier, roll them thinner. (repeat for second portion)

4. Leaving dough sandwiched between baking paper, stack them on a cookie tray and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Or, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.

5. Preheat oven 175oC.

6. Remove one dough sheet from freezer. Peel off top baking sheet and place on a cookie tray. Cut dough into gingerbread people or things. Transferring shapes to the just line cookie sheet spacing them slightly apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie trays are full. Bake cookies until set in middle and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 7 to 10 minutes, rotating trays from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not over bake! Cool cookies on tray for a 2 minutes, then move to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

7. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in step 6. If the dough gets too soft to handle, roll it out on the baking paper and freeze it for a few minutes. Repeat to use all the dough.

8. Once cookies are cooled to room temperature, you can decorate them.
Pandan icing
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
1/2 tpsn Pandan essence
a few tspn water (only if necessary)
1. place the egg white in a small bowl & beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually adding the icing sugar ½ a cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and continue mixing. If the mixture gets too dry, add a few teaspoons of water.

2. If you want other colours, portion out some of this icing now. With remaining mixture add Pandan and stir to mix thoroughly.

3. TIME TO DECORATE! Pipe, spread – whatever takes your fancy. Allow icing to set (about 15 to 30 minutes).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dairy free, egg free Chocolate LEGO Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:01 pm

Yesterday, Summer officially started in Sydney. Not just the 40*C heat wave, but the festivities and eating way too much! 

Happy birthday Winky Poo! :)
December party no. #1 - my nephew's 10th birthday 
Nathan has always loved LEGO. At a very young age, he was completing LEGO sets way beyond his years. A couple of years ago, I even lugged 2 kg worth of LEGO back from my trip to the US just for him. (Apparently they didn't have this model back in Sydney, as it's for 16 years+!) So I thought this LEGO cake was a fitting theme for him. But the challenge lied with his dairy and egg allergies. Like I've said before, you can't not eat cake for your birthday! So I present to you a completely dairy and egg free chocolate LEGO cake. 

This cake definitely had its challenges but all in all, I think it turned out well. Complements from fussy family members means it's a winner. I based this on a previous cake and modified it slightly and doubled the mixture. The frosting I worked off the principles of a butter frosting and added vanilla and lemon essence to mask the margarine taste. The design and method of constructing this cake I followed this picture from flickr and this video from Betty Crocker.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tspn bicarb soda
6 tspn baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
1/8 tpsn salt
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut
2 tspn vanilla essence
1 tspn pandan essence (optional)
2 1/4 cups almond milk (or water)

275g dairy free margarine (I used a canola spread)
170 to 200g icing sugar mixture - depending how sweet you want it (or icing sugar)
2 tspns vanilla essence
2 tspns lemon essence
Food colouring (use red pillar box for the red brick)
~extra icing sugar mixture to dissolve food colouring

10 marshmallows 
Black writing icing gel

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line base and sides of a 9 inch square cake pan with baking paper. 

2. In a large bowl sift together, flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and cocoa. Add almond meal and coconut.

3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and add vanilla, pandan and almond milk. Using a whisk, slowly mix to incorporate. If the mixture looks a little dry, add a dash of almond milk or water.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cake is cooked (prick with toothpick comes out clean). 

5. Sit in tin for 5 to 10 minutes then turn the cake out on to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

1. Using a cake mixer, beat together margarine, sifted icing sugar mixture, vanilla and lemon essence until well incorporated. Taste as you go for the appropriate level of sweetness. Bare in mind you'll be adding a few more teaspoons of icing sugar at a later stage to dissolve the food colouring.

2. Separate mixture into 3 small to medium bowls, 1 for each colour. 

3. For each colour, in a separate small bowl add a fair few drops food colouring to about 1 tablespoon of icing sugar mixture. Stir to form a paste. Add paste to 1 of margarine frosting bowls and mix to combine. Repeat until you get the desired colour. 
Tip: Becuase the LEGO blocks are very vibrantly coloured, so don't be shy on the colouring - otherwise you'll doing this process for ages! You'll probably use about 10 to 20 ml of food colouring.

4. Repeat step #3 for the other two colours. For the green, I added some pandan essence which helped but needed the food colouring to get the vibrancy. I also added a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the red mixture to get that deeper colour. 

Building the cake
For a more detailed 'how it' check out the Betty Crocker video.

1. Cut the cake into 3 rectangles. 
Tip: You can put the off cuts together to make another 'brick'.

2. Crumb coat each rectangle with respective colour. This means very lightly coating the cake with frosting then refrigerating for about 30 minutes. This seals in the crumbs before the main frosting layer. 

3. Place the first rectangle onto the serving plate/board and using a butter knife (or offset spatula), spread frosting to coat the side and top of the brick. Coat 4 marshmallows with the same colour frosting and place on top the cake. Smooth out any untidy sides.

4. Place second rectangle next to the first with an offset. Frost and top with another 4 coated marshmallows. Smooth out any untidy sides.

5. Place the third rectangle on-top of the first two rectangles to form a bridge. (refer to my crude picture below). Frost and top with 2 marshmallows.  Using the black writing icing gel, write your message (or birthday person's name) on the top brick and number on top of the two marshmallows.

6. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!


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