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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chocolate Opera Cake

Yesterday was my boy's 15th birthday.  A handsome, well-mannered, shy, responsible teenage boy any parents could ask for! Made this Opera Cake for him since he loves any cake I bake.  Took me 3 hours to make this cake but definitely worth it especially if it's for someone you love with all your heart.

We bought him the beginners guitar set for his birthday present and he was elated since he's picking up playing the guitar.  He also received his expensive 'Steven Gerard's' adidas football boots from his aunts & uncles.  Being a die-hard fan in football and an avid Liverpool supporter and also in his school's football team, he's more than happy in getting this wonderful present. To top it all, he received lots of angpows from more aunts & uncles and his godparents as well.  Last night he told me 'Mom, this is my best birthday ever!'.  Yes my son, have a blast birthday and enjoy just being 15!  Love you lots!

This recipe is from William Sonoma cook book.  No adjustments needed to the recipe.  It's perfect.  Not too sweet and it's spongy soft.  The espresso buttercream is so creamy, flavored with espresso and kahlua..simply irresistible.

Chocolate Opera Cake
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup blanched almonds
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1. Pre heat oven to 180d C. Butter 2 9-inch cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar.  Using electric mixer, beat on medium speed until whites begin to thicken.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until stiff, shiny peaks form.
3. Using a food processor, process the almonds and 1/2 cup of the icing sugar until the nuts are finely ground. In a large bow, combine the ground almond mixture, eggs and the remaining 3/4 cup icing sugar.
4. Using a wire whisk, beat vigorously until the mixture is light and thick, about 5 mins. Whisk in the vanilla, then whisk in the flour.
5. Using rubber spatula, fold in the beaten egg white mixture until incorporated. Fold in the melted butter.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 mins or until cake is done.  Cool on wire rack and split each cake into 2 (horizontally).  You will have 4 layers of cake.

1. Using a pastry brush, coat one layer heavily with the espresso syrup. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of espresso buttercream over the syrup. Repeat the process with 2 more cake layers.
2. Place the remaining cake layer on top and brush the top and sides of the entire cake with the syrup. Using a clean spatula, spread a thick layer of chocolate glaze over the top of the cake. Frost the sides of the cake with remaining buttercream.  Cool in refrigerator for up to 1 day.

 Espresso-flavored Cake Syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
2 tsp instant espresso powder and 1 tbsp Kahlua or brandy

1. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil.
2. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and espresso and kahlua.  Let cool before using.

Espresso Buttercream:
4 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp instant epresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp Kahlua (optional)

1. With a wire whisk, stir the egg yolks gently in the bowl of a stand mixer or another deep bowl.  Set aside.
2. In a small heave saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water and bring to boil.
3. Cover and allow to boil for 1 min. (The steam created in the pan will wash the sugar crystals down the pan sides). Uncover and continue to boil until the syrup reaches soft-ball stage or 115dC on a candy thermometer, about 5 mins.  (To test without a thermometer, scoop up a few drops fo the syrup with a wooden spoon and immerse the spoon in a glass of ice water. When you trap the drops between your fingertips, you should be able to form them into a soft, pliable ball).
4. Once syrup is ready, begin beating the yolks with a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment set on medium speed.  While beating continuously, slowly pour the hot syrup onto the yolks. Be careful not to burn yourself.
5. Beat until all of the syrup is incorporated then continue to beat until cool and thick.
6. Beat the butter into the egg mixture until smooth and satiny.  if mixture looks curdeled and the bowl feels cold, warm it over hot water and beat the mixture again until it looks shiny and smooth.
7. Beat in the espresso and Kahlua, if using.
(Makes 2 cups, enough to frost a 9-inch cake.

Chocolate Glaze:
375g semsweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp corn syrup

1. Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler placed over (not touching) barely simmering water and heat until the chocolate and butter melt, stirring often.
2. Remove from heat and pour the glaze through a sieve. Let cool before using.
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

 Brush syrup on cake

 Frost with Espresso Flavored Buttercream

Top with Chocolate Glaze

Super-duper-licious lip smacking yummy!

Happy 15th Birthday, Bry!

Family with lil cuz!

Today is the Chap Goh Mei, the 15th day of the Lunar Calendar which is the last day of the Chinese New Year.  Tonight all the single maidens and bachelors will be throwing oranges into the river or sea in the hope of finding their life partner.  Tradition has it that when the singles throw the oranges and gets pick by the opposite sex, then that is the one for him or her.  Although in this modern world many young ones don't believe in this tradition but they still participate in this orange throwing for the fun and the spirit of Chap Goh Mei.

Happy Chap Goh Mei to all and good luck if you are throwing oranges tonight.  Make sure to write your h/p no. on it.. you might get lucky! If you are looking for a rich partner, go throw into the pond in the golf course!! lol

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gong Xi Fa Cai

No foodie today folks.  Just a short post to wish all of you especially to those who are celebrating Chinese New Year a very prosperous 'GONG XI FA CAI'.  May you be blessed with good health, good fortune, abundance of joy and a safe Year of The Snake!

I'll be taking a short break from blogging as tomorrow, I'll be travelling to Malacca - my lively and historical hometown. Will be very busy eating all the yummy food back home.. chomp chomp chomp!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quick Chicken Kurma (Murgh Korma)

The start of 2013 has been keeping me extremely busy at work.  Hardly have time to do anything else.  Last weekend was my niece's wedding and that too have kept the family occupied.  And now with Chinese New Year approaching, a week from today to be exact, I've been busy baking cookies too.  So, I'll be travelling down south to my hometown, Malacca, comes the weekend.  Already feeling so tired.. I'm getting old! lol

Anyway, here's a wonderful kurma chicken recipe that I want to share with you.  Cooked this a couple of weeks ago but was too busy to post it.  Recipe is taken from a book my sis gave me for Christmas.  It's called 100 Essential Curries by Madhur Jaffrey.  My family like this and it's not spicy at all.  So it's suitable if you have small kids at home.

Quick Chicken Kurma
The ingredients given here is based on actual recipe but I doubled the amount.
4cm fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tbsp vegetable oil
3 bay leaves
5cm cinnamon stick
8 cardamon pods
4 cloves
1/4 tsp black cumin seeds
120g onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 tinned plum tomatoes, chopped (I used 1 can)
1 chicken, cut into pieces and skinned
1/4-1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp single cream

1. Put the ginger, garlic and 3 tbsp water in the container of an electric blender. Blend to a smooth paste.
2. Put the oil in a wide frying pan or saute pan and set over high heat. When very hot, put in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamon pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Stir once or twice and add the onion.
3. Stir fry for 3 mins or until onion browns, add the paste and ground coriander and ground cumin, fry for a min. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for another min.
4. Add chicken pieces, chili powder, salt and 250ml water. Bring to boil. Cover, turn heat to medium and cook for 15 mins, turning the chicken pieces over now and then.
5. Remove cover, add the cream and cook on high heat for 7-8 mins or until the sauce has thickened (I like mine with a bit gravy).  Stir gently as you do this.

Serve with white fluffy rice.