Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I promised chocolate-packed, high-calorie recipes, and I deliver. I honestly have not eaten many muffins, and I don't know why, but one thing's for sure - these Chocolate Chip Muffins are the best muffins I have ever tasted.

This recipe is by Nigella Lawson, so I knew it was going to be good. She made this recipe in one of her TV shows, but in it, she added 1 3/4 cup of sugar. In the recipe I got from Foodnetwork, it says to use 3/4 cup of sugar - that's less than half of what she said. I only noticed this after I made the muffins though, so I couldn't do anything about it. Fortunately the sweetness was just right and everyone who tried them said they were delicious. Muffins are one of the easiest things to make - a dry mixture and a wet mixture combined together creates the muffin batter. Be sure not to over-mix though, as over-mixing causes the muffin to have a tough texture. The easiest way to fill muffin cases, I've found, is to use an ice-cream scoop that has those release lever... things. They are easy to scoop the right amount and release cleanly into the cases. But if you don't have one of those, don't worry, as two spoons work fine.

Notice the paper cases? I used them because I thought it would go well with the theme. These paper cases are called 'Tulip' muffin wraps or paper cases, and I originally planned on buying a packet, but the local shop wasn't in stock. I ended up making my own by simply cutting out squares and folding them. It was extremely tedious and I will reserve this time-consuming practise to muffin recipes who deserve it. I can safely say, though, that this recipe most definitely deserves it. A friends said it tasted like something from a cafĂ©, which proves just how delicious they are.

If you try one of these muffins while they are still warm, you will find little pockets of molten chocolate suspended in the muffin. Let it cool to room temperature and these pockets harden into delightful chocolate chips. Everything about these muffins are wonderful, so if you are craving a chocolate hit, try these. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Make sure you use good quality chocolate chips (at least 35% cocoa) and good quality cocoa powder, and sprinkle a generous amount of extra chocolate chips over the top, because there is not such thing as too much chocolate.


Obtained here.

Makes 12 muffins.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons best quality cocoa powder
3/4 cup superfine sugar (blitz granulated sugar in a food processor)
3/4 cup semisweet (dark) chocolate chips, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 cup milk
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease or line a 12-hole muffin pan.

2. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into a large bowl. Pour all the liquid ingredients into a measuring jug.

3. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, remembering that a lumpy batter makes the best muffins. Spoon into the prepared muffin cases.

4. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top and then bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are dark, risen and springy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


 While browsing through my copy of Simply Heaven, I remembered I had half a container of spreadable cream cheese leftover in the fridge. I began looking for a recipe which used spreadable cream cheese, and my eyes fell on Guacamole. I know it doesn't sound very exciting (even for those who know what it is), I was drawn more to the prawn fritters. Unfortunately I didn't have time to make the fritters, so I just made the Guacamole.

I realised, too late, that my avocados weren't very ripe. They were really hard and quite bland, but it was too late to turn back. Everything worked fine until I squeezed all the juice from a lemon into the mixture. It calls for one tablespoon, and somehow I think a whole lemon has much more juice. It tasted very sour, so I ended up adding another avocado. The coriander and lemon juice totally overpower the avocado taste, but, surprising, my family loved it. Instead of (unhealthy) chips or nachos, I ripped up some Lebanese bread and toasted them in my sandwich press. Within minutes they crisped up and tasted excellent dipped in the guacamole.

I know this is another short post, but I haven't gotten into the cooking groove recently. I am definitely in a muffin mood, though, so get ready for high-calorie, chocolate-packed recipes. Oh, and for the record, I bought the square bowl just for shooting the guacamole in. Yeah, that's how much I'm dedicated to foodography.


Obtained from Simply Heaven, by Philadelphia

Makes about 1 cup

125 grams Philadelphia Spreadable Light Cream Cheese
1 avocado, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup chopped coriander
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra coriander for garnish

1. Combine the Philly, avocado, coriander, lemon rind, juice and seasonings. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl. Chill.

2. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Did I mention I love cheesecake? Did I also mention I love Oreos? Well I love both, so what's better than combining the two and making a Cookies and Cream Cheesecake? I had a craving for cheesecake so I found this recipe on the Kraft recipes website. It is basically a New York cheesecake with bits of Oreo cookies. I should have expected it to be a bit too rich, seeing as my previous New York cheesecake, was too rich, but it was delicious nonetheless.

Another reason why I decided to make cheesecake was because if I bought 3 Philadelphia products, I could get a Philadelphia cookbook for free. It's called 'Simply Heaven', and it contains delicious recipes which all use Philadelphia cream cheese, as well as the new 'Cream for Cooking'. I am definitely going to try some of the recipes in the near future.

I bumped into a few troubles whilst making this cheesecake, but also solved a few that I had encountered previously. Firstly, if using Oreos, make sure to remove the white filling. Last time I didn't remove them and it was very difficult to crush. I also found out why my cheesecake mixtures were always lumpy - the cheese was not soft enough. I microwaved them for longer time and it worked wonderfully. Remember, for every 250 grams of cream cheese, microwave for 30 seconds on high. One problem was that I forgot to grease or line the base of the springform pan, so most of the crumbs stuck to the bottom, and the whole cake 'ripped' in two. I had to use cutters to cut a few circles out that were relatively presentable, but there was barely any crust.

Another thing, I baked this in a water bath, but that did not prevent cracking. The Oreo pieces seemed to protrude out the top, making little cracks which expand while cooling. If you really do want to use a water bath, place the tray on the lowest level of the oven, because no matter how tightly I wrap the springform pan, water seems to always leak in.

Did you see my amateurish attempt at a plate 'garnish'? Yeah, totally failed. Stay tuned.


Obtained here.

Makes 16 servings.

1 cup crushed Oreo cookies (about 12 cookies)
1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (250 grams each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
20 Oreo cookies, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C) if using a silver springform pan or 300°F (150°C) if using a dark nonstick springform pan. Mix crushed cookies and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch (22 cm) springform pan. Bake 10 minutes.

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Gently stir in quartered cookies. Pour over crust.

3. Bake for 1 hour or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with additional cookies, if desired.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Banana Bread

Rejoice! My exams are over! It's like a huge weight has been taken off me. Although I had exams, I still managed to make a really quick and simple Banana Bread. I was busy revising, so I only got one good shot before I had to go back, so this will be an extremely short post. Don't worry though, the next post will be completely full on. I'm thinking cheesecake... I'll tell you how it goes.

This recipe is from Taste. It is one of the most highly rated recipes on the site, so I decided to use it. It turned out fine, but a bit fry because I added toasted almonds without adjusting any wet or dry ingredients. Next time I add nuts, I shall reduce the flour. It tasted delicious, but if you slightly toast it after slicing - even better. Please note, the butter in the photo is only there for decoration purposes. We don't eat butter on bread, so that was scraped right off. For those who do eat butter on bread, please consider cream cheese spread, or ones made with olive or canola oil. Butter is extremely unhealthy if eaten regularly.

That was just a note on health I learnt a while back. Try this recipe if you have a few overripe bananas, and I'll be back with more goodies in a few days.


Obtained here.

Makes 1 loaf.

Melted low-fat dairy spread, to grease
265g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
40g (1/4 cup) plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) skim milk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
50g butter, melted, cooled
2 overripe medium bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush an 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with melted dairy spread to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 opposite sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang.

2. Sift the combined flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Place the milk, eggs, melted butter and banana in a medium bowl, and stir until well combined. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Caramelised Croissant Pudding

I am so sorry it's been so long since my last post. It is currently school exams and I have been cramming like mad (yeah right...), and my blog has been bugging me so I thought I'd just pop by. I haven't been very busy cooking, due to exams, and I don't have much time now, this post will be fairly short. The recipe is also short, but insanely delicious. But beware, it certainly can't be good for your waistline.

The recipe is Caramelised Croissant Pudding, from Nigella Lawson. I just love Nigella's recipes as they are simple, unpretentious and dare to use full-fat everything. It's fine to dabble in strange and exotic recipes once in a while, but there's beauty in simplicity. I have made this recipe twice in two weeks, that's how much I love it. It's extremely easy and delicious. My family says it's too sweet, so for those without even the tiniest sweet tooth... don't bother. All that is in this pudding is sugar, water, milk, cream, eggs, a shot of alcohol and croissants (preferably butter).

I say it is extremely easy, but there is a step which calls for heating sugar and water until deep caramel-coloured. That may sound daunting, but it's not. Simply pour the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat on high heat. Do not be timid and heat on low, crank it up! It'll reach the right stage in no time. Another thing is to keep stirring while pouring in the cream. It foams up because the cream boils instantly, but keep stirring, because if you don't lumps of sugar will form. That's what happened the second time, but if you heat on low and stir constantly, the lumps disappear. Do not worry if there are lumps of cooked egg in the 'custard' mixture, because once baked, it blends into the rest of the pudding.

If you have stale croissants (or even fresh ones) lying around, please try it out! Well, it's back to study for me. My next post will probably be after my exams finish, so nothing from me for at least a week. Bye!


Obtained here.

Serves 2 greedy people

2 stale croissants
100g caster sugar
2 x 15ml tablespoons water
125ml double cream
125ml full-fat milk
2 x 15ml tablespoons bourbon (Can substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, or omit)
2 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

2. Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish about 500ml (I used a lid of a Pyrex dish).

3. Put the caster sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over a medium to high heat.

4. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away, without stirring, until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3–5 minutes. Keep looking but don’t be too timid.

5. Turn heat down to low and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – and, whisking away, the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over low heat. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.

6. Pour the caramel bourbon custard over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes if the croissants are very stale.

 7. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Apple Tart

Continuing the list of things I made when guests came over last time is apple tart. Now, apple tart is not the same as apple pie. Apple pie has a top layer of pastry, and tarts do not. I think apple tarts are easier to make solely because you don't have to fiddle around with another layer of pastry. I've never actually made an apple pie before - shocking, I know. Another reason why I prefer to make tarts is I don't have a pie plate, and it's the shape of the plate that gives the pie its rounded shape. But I will get around to making an apple pie, promise.

This apple tart is a recipe by Paula Deen, from When I first read the recipe, I was surprised that the crust had no sugar or salt, and had sour cream. Always curious, I decided to make it as apples were on my mind.

I do not have a food processor, so I simply rubbed the butter into the flour until it resembled fine breadcrumbs, and added the sour cream. I used about half a tablespoon more sour cream, because I was working by hand and the cream wasn't distributed evenly enough. The dough was... interesting to work with. Don't worry if the base of the tart looks a bit thin - it's perfectly fine. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I blind baked it with weights, although I doubt it made much of a difference though, so next time I won't weigh it down.

The 'custard' mixture almost overflowed, but didn't which was good, but the glaze made too much. I would recommend halving the recipe for the glaze. Oh, and if you can't get orange juice concentrate, just use plain orange juice, much cheaper and I don't think you can get the concentrate in Australia. This tart was a hit with the guests who each had two slices. I will be definitely making this again.


Obtained here.

Makes 6 servings.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (114 grams) butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream


About 6 medium apples, peeled, pitted, and sliced (I used Granny Smith)
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour


1/2 cup apricot preserves or jelly
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate (Or just plain orange juice)
Mint, for garnish
Whipped topping, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To make the crust:

2. Place the flour, butter, and sour cream in a food processor and pulse to combine. When the dough has formed a ball, pat with lightly floured hands into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and 1/2-inch sides, or a round au gratin dish.

3. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Let cool while preparing the filling.

4. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling:

5. Peel and thickly slice the apples. Arrange the apple slices in overlapping circles on top of the crust, until it's completely covered. Overfill the crust, as apples will shrink during cooking.

6. Combine the egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, and flour and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apples.

7. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard sets and is pale golden in color. Cover with an aluminum foil tent if the crust gets too dark.

8. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, remove the side wall of the pan.

To make the glaze:

9. Combine the preserves or jelly and orange juice. Spread with a pastry brush over the top of the warm tart.

10. Serve the tart warm, at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with fresh mint.