Friday, July 3, 2015

Red, White and Blue Panna Cotta 三色奶凍


Happy 239th Birthday America! 


Strawberry mousse, panna cotta and blueberry mousse--made with fresh fruits, vanilla pods, fresh cream and milk. A great way to celebrate with this wholesome and refreshing dessert!






Thursday, June 11, 2015

Portuguese Egg Tart Recipe Comparison 葡撻大比拼


Ever since I posted the Portuguese Egg Tart recipe a few weeks ago, I have been thinking how I can make improvements on it. After doing more searches and experiments with different recipes, baking temperatures, etc, I am very pleased with the final results.

All the tarts in the following experiment have been made using the same store bought puff pastry as the crust.

Recipe references: dimcookguide.com (with video); "The Birth of an Egg Tart" by Egg Tart King ( "一個蛋撻的誕生" 蛋撻王著)p.40-41; morethanbread.net Portuguese Egg Tart


1) dimcookguide recipe: 2 egg yolks, 60g milk, 30g sugar and 60g heavy cream, bake at 350F, 20 mins
2) Egg Tart King recipe: 2 whole eggs, 60g milk, 280g water, 30g sugar and 5g heavy cream, bake at 446F, 18 minutes
3) morethanbread recipe: 2 egg yolks, 260g milk, 60g sugar and 60g heavy cream, 1 tbsp cornstarch, cook to thicken, bake at 485F, 30 minutes
4) morethanbread recipe: 2 egg yolks, 260g milk, 60g sugar but without heavy cream, 1 tbsp cornstarch, cook to thicken, bake at 485F, 30 minutes




Results and observations:

1) dimcookguide: a few brown spots, custard wrinkled and shrank after cooling, crust puffed up more than the others
2) egg tart king: watery custard, pale, custard sank significantly, turning concave
3) morethanbread recipe with heavy cream: good brown spots, crispy and thin crust with silky custard
4) morethanbread recipe without heavy cream: no significant difference compared to 3)



Conclusion:

1) Baking temperature: Portuguese egg tarts have to be baked at a high temperature for those iconic burnt spots or splotches to appear. The high temperature also prevents the crust from puffing too much (as seen in the dimcookguide recipe).

2) Ingredients in the custard: In order to prevent the custard from sinking after baking, the addition of cornstarch is essential because it has an stabilizing effect. Water is a no no in the recipe (as in all other pastry making) because it dilutes the custard. Egg yolk is preferred over whole eggs in making the custard. And as long as there is a lot of milk in the custard, cream may be omitted. The milk protein, casein, is what turns into the brown spots on top.





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Panna Cotta 紅桑子朱古力奶凍


This is my take on the classic Italian dessert panna cotta. It means "cooked cream" in Italian and is very much like a Western version of a popular Chinese dessert, steamed eggs with milk. By adding two other flavors--raspberry and chocolate mousse--I have created a new combination that compliments each other and at the same time adds depth to the flavor. With the right amount of gelatin to firm up the liquid, the texture of the panna cotta becomes delicately smooth and silky. They are served in small glasses of the perfect serving size. Mmm....yummy!

Since there are three layers and they all need to be refrigerated and set before adding another one, a bit of patience is needed. It can be prepared one to two days before serving.

這是一款經典的意大利甜品,主要是牛奶加上奶油/忌廉,經過烹煮後雪凍才享用,質地幼滑香甜,與中式的鮮奶燉蛋有異曲同工之妙。今次我加入了另外兩種口味:紅桑子及朱古力慕絲,它們除了同樣有幼滑的口感外,更能令味道更上一層樓,好味到不得了!我用上精緻的小小玻璃瓶,份量剛剛好。

因為這三層都要雪藏及凝結,所以須預多小小時間,或早一兩日前預備。

Depending on the size of your containers, adjust the amount of the ingredients.
Ingredients to make about ten 50 ml small glasses:

Panna Cotta: 奶凍
150g heavy cream 忌廉/奶油
50g whole milk 全脂牛奶
33g sugar 糖
⅓ tsp unflavored gelatin 無味魚膠粉/吉利丁/明膠
¼ vanilla bean 雲呢哪豆

Dark Chocolate Mousse: 黑朱古力慕絲
25g sugar 糖
1½ tsp water 水
2 egg yolks 蛋黃
69g dark chocolate, 60-65% 黑朱古力
99g heavy cream 忌廉/奶油
½ tsp unflavored gelatin 無味魚膠粉/吉利丁/明膠

Raspberry Mousse: 紅桑子慕絲
81g raspberry puree 紅桑子蓉
39g sugar 糖
114g heavy cream 忌廉/奶油
1 tsp unflavored gelatin 無味魚膠粉/吉利丁/明膠

First Layer: Panna Cotta
1)  Slice open the vanilla bean with a paring knife and scrape the seeds out. Put the seeds and the pod with heavy cream, whole milk, and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let it steep for 15 minutes. Remove the pod. Rinse, dry, and store for another use.


2)  Sprinkle the gelatin into a small bowl with 2 tsp of water. Let it bloom for 5 minutes, then microwave briefly to dissolve the gelatin.
3)  Add to the warm milk and mix well. Pour into the glasses and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Second Layer: Dark Chocolate Mousse
1)  Beat egg yolks in a small bowl with a handheld mixer for a few minutes.
2)  In another pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Then, pour into the egg with the mixer running. Continue to beat until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
3)  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.
4)  Beat heavy cream in another bowl until it holds soft peaks.
5)  Sprinkle gelatin into a small bowl with 2 tsp of water. Let it bloom for a few minutes. Microwave briefly to dissolve. Add to the egg and stir well.
6)  Pour the egg mixture into the melted chocolate and mix well to incorporate.
7)  Fold the chocolate mixture into the heavy cream until well mixed.
8)  Pour or pipe on top of the panna cotta layer and refrigerate until set.

Third Layer: Raspberry Mousse
1)  Blend raspberries into puree. Strain into a bowl and discard the solid waste.
2)  Put sugar and puree into a pot and heat briefly until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3)  Sprinkle gelatin into a small bowl with 3 tsp of water. Let it bloom for a few minutes. Microwave briefly to dissolve.
4)  Beat heavy cream to soft peaks.
5)  Add the dissolved gelatin to the puree and mix well. Add to the beaten cream and mix well.
6)  Add on top of the other two layers and refrigerate for a few hours or until set. Serve cold.

Notes:
1) To make 81g raspberry puree, you will need to double the amount of raspberry, approximately 162g. Fresh or frozen fruit can be used.
2) It is important to follow the instructions on how to melt gelatin. Do not directly put the powder gelatin into a hot liquid. It will clump and become difficult to dissolve. Gelatin sheet is more user friendly: soften it in cold water and put it directly into warm liquid.


第一層奶凍:
1) 用小刀刮出雲呢哪籽,放入鍋內與奶油、牛奶及糖煮滾。滾後離火,浸泡十五分鐘。
2) 將魚膠粉灑在兩茶匙水上,五分鐘後放微波爐弄至溶解。
3) 將魚膠粉溶液倒入牛奶內攪勻,再倒入小杯內,放雪櫃至小兩小時或至凝固。

第二層朱古力慕絲:
1) 蛋黃用打蛋器打約幾分鐘。
2) 糖加水煮滾,一邊打蛋一邊將熱糖水倒入,打至降溫。
3) 朱古力加熱溶化。
4) 將奶油打至五成。
5) 將魚膠粉灑在兩茶匙水上,五分鐘後放微波爐弄至溶解。倒入蛋液內,攪勻。
6) 將蛋液倒入朱月力溶液內,攪勻。
7) 再加入已打之奶油,攪勻後倒入已凝固之奶凍上,放雪櫃至小兩小時或至凝固。

第三層紅桑子慕絲:
1) 將紅桑子打成茸,過篩。加糖煮熱至糖溶,離火。
2) 將魚膠粉灑在三茶匙水上,五分鐘後放微波爐弄至溶解。倒入果茸內,攪勻。
3) 將奶油打至五成。加入果茸內,攪勻。
4) 倒入已凝固之兩層奶凍上,放雪櫃至小兩小時或至凝固。


注意事項:
1) 新鮮或雪藏的紅桑子也可以用,要磨出 81g 的果茸大約要用雙倍重量的紅桑子(162g)。
2) 要特別注意怎樣用魚膠粉,不可直接放入熱的液體,會成為很難溶解的硬粒。






Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Portuguese Egg Tart 葡撻



A few years ago when I took a trip to Hong Kong, I also had a chance to visit Macau. The infamous Portuguese custard tart was the number one food on my list to try out. My friend in Macau brought me to Lord Stow's Bakery, which is extremely popular with the tart. The multi-layered puff pastry is crispy and the filling is silky and full of egg flavor.


After coming back to Los Angeles, I tried tarts that were made in different local bakeries and restaurants. They were very disappointing and did not come close to the original and authentic ones so I decided to do some research and experiment on my own.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Magic Chocolate Custard Layers Cake 奇妙多層朱古力蛋糕



The original name of this cake is prajitura desteapta which means "smart cake" in Romanian. This cake is also often referred to as magic cake because there are different layers and textures baked from one single batter. As you bite into the cake, you will be amazed by the different textures. I was intrigued by it and started to search for the rationale behind it.

The way it is prepared is basically the same as any chiffon or sponge cake. The eggs are separated from the yolks, which are mixed with the sugar, fat, liquid and flour while the whites are beaten to stiff peaks. Then the two are reunited and baked.

What makes it different from ordinary cake is the temperature of the oven and the amount of liquid. I am always amazed by how understanding the science can make one a better baker.

Knowledge is power!!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chocolate Almond Cake 香濃朱古力杏仁蛋糕


How can I describe this cake? It's moist and light. It melts in your mouth and is full of chocolate flavor. The addition of almond gives it a nutty flavor, and the cake isn't too sweet....in one word: delightful!

The original name of this cake is called Queen of Sheba. The recipe is one of the renowned chef Julia Child's. But unfortunately I forgot which cookbook it was published in. : (

I did make some adjustments, not to the ingredients, but as to how they are put together.

Buy the best chocolate you can get your hands on as it is the major ingredient and it does make a big difference to the quality of the cake.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Chestnut Tartlet 小栗子撻


These bite sized mini tarts are perfect to be served at a party without the hassle and mess of cutting a whole tart. Many people seem to enjoy finger foods more! The tart crust can be prepared one to two days ahead of time and the filling can be piped in the same day of serving.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake (No Bake) 草莓芝士凍餅



This has been the longest stretch since my last post on 2/10/15. What I have been doing for the past month? I took a vacation to visit family and meet some friends whom I have lost contact with for more than two decades. It is a great feeling to reconnect with old friends and catch up with each others' lives. 

What is most precious is after all these years we still treasure our friendship. 

Genuine friendship can pass the test of time!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tiramisu Cupcake 提拉米蘇杯子蛋糕



Believe or not, this is my first post on cupcakes. Although cupcakes have been popular for such a long time, for some reason I am not into this trend. My food critics at home have been bugging me to make cupcakes for a long time. I yielded to their requests when I saw this recipe on King Arthur's blog. It is a twist on the classic tiramisu, building on a cupcake.

I modified the recipe quite a bit and made it my own version with significantly less sugar. I call it an adult cupcake.


Friday, January 30, 2015

New Library Cooking Programs



Below is the line up of open-to-the-public Los Angeles county library cooking programs for the first half of the year  :

1)  January 31 Saturday 2pm Red Bean Pastry 紅豆酥 at Asian Pacific Resource Center in Rosemead Library

2)  March 28 Saturday 1pm Egg Tart 蛋撻 at Paramount Library

3)  April 18 Saturday 2pm Bo Law Bao(Pineapple Bun) 波蘿包 at Leland R. Weaver Library

4)  April 25 Saturday 2pm Char Siu(Barbecued Pork) 叉燒 at Leland R. Weaver Library

5)  May 9 Saturday 2pm Red Bean Pastry 紅豆酥 at Walnut Library

6)  May 16 Saturday 2pm Char Siu and Egg Tart 叉燒及蛋撻 at Carson Library





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