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.

Portuguese custard tart (Pasteis de Nata) is different from Chinese egg tart. It is not an overbaked or "burnt egg tart." Although the crust is similar, the custard is different. Many copycat versions use the same custard in making Chinese egg tart and bake until brown spots appear on the tart and call it Portuguese custard tart. Portuguese custard filling uses heavy cream and milk instead of water, and egg yolk only instead of a whole egg. In addition, some other recipes use cinnamon as a spice. But most important is the addition of corn starch. It is used to stabilize the custard so that it can be baked at a high temperature.

To illustrate my point, below are some pictures I took from a cookbook devoted exclusively to egg tarts:

On page 34 is the recipe for making the custard filling of a regular egg tart: 2 eggs, 30g sugar, 60g milk and 280g water. Bake at 230C/446F for 18 minutes.

And a few pages later is the recipe of the Portuguese egg tart, using the same crust as their egg tart recipe. The custard filling: 2 eggs, 30g sugar, 60g milk, 280g water, 5g cream. Bake at 230C/446F for 18 minutes.

The recipes for both tarts virtually use exactly the same ingredients, oven temperature and baking time!! I really wonder how they will give you two different tarts! Lesson learned: money wasted in buying this kind of lousy cookbook.

Recipe references:  Leitesculinaria.comPortuguesediner.comKitchen Tigress



正宗葡撻有别於 港式酥皮蛋撻, 它不是焗焦了的蛋撻。市面上的葡撻食譜,不外乎是與港式蛋撻無異,但正宗葡撻的蛋漿是用蛋黃、奶油及牛奶,有些更加入肉桂粉,味道比較濃郁,與港式蛋撻的味道與口感都不同。最重要的是加了玉米粉,以致蛋液在高溫下不會焗過熟。

為了讓讀者明白我的論點,我將一個蛋撻的誕生中數頁拍下,當中有蛋撻及葡撻的食譜,(請看上面相片) 細看一下,材料、焗爐溫度及時間,竟然是一樣,真不知道是印刷出錯或是作者馬虎、草率或求其??下次買食譜都要小心選擇。

食譜參考: leitesculinaria.comPortuguesediner.comKitchen Tigress

Ingredients to make a dozen tarts: 做一打葡撻的材料

Puff Pastry: (see notes) 酥皮
185g cake flour 低筋麵粉
96g water 水
1 tsp sugar 糖
¼ tsp salt 鹽
30g unsalted butter, softened 無鹽牛油,室溫

96g unsalted butter, cold 無鹽牛油,雪凍

Custard filling: 蛋液
2 egg yolks 蛋黃
260g whole milk 全脂牛奶
60 heavy cream 奶油
60g sugar 糖
1 tbsp corn starch 玉米粉
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 雲呢哪香油

To make puff pastry:
1) Put all the puff pastry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2) Roll out the dough into a big sheet. Place the cold butter block in the center and wrap it up in the dough.
3) Roll out into a rectangle with the longer side towards you. Fold the two sides so that they meet at the middle and fold together again.

4) Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 two more times, for a total of 3 times. 4x4x4=64 layers!
6) Take out the dough and roll out to a rectangular shape of about 3-4 mm thick and 12 inches long. Roll up from the long side into a log and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

7) Cut into 12 equal pieces, about an inch wide. Spray the molds with oil and dusk with flour to prevent sticking.

8) With the cut side up, press each dough piece onto a tart mold. Dip your thumbs on flour to prevent sticking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or frozen for long term storage.

To make custard filling:
1) Put milk, cream, sugar, yolks and corn starch into a small pot. Stir well.
2) Under medium to low heat, whisk constantly with a whisk or spatula. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken (about 165F), remove from heat.
3) Put the pot in a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Add vanilla extract. Stir well and leave to cool completely. Pass it through a sieve if there are lumps.
5) Preheat oven to 485F. Fill each tart with the custard to about 5 mm from the rim and bake for 30-35 minutes or until brown spots appear on the surface and the bubbling stops. Keep an close eye on them for the last 15 minutes. Serve warm.

1) The process of preparing the puff pastry dough can be stopped and refrigerated overnight until you are ready to resume.
2) To save time, store bought frozen puff pastry is a good option.

1) 將酥皮材料放碗內混合,手搓數分鐘至麵團光滑,蓋上保鮮紙放雪櫃一小時。
2) 麵團從雪櫃取出,捍開一大片,中央放上牛油,用麵團包好。
3) 再搌開成長方形,長的一邊靠身,兩邊向中央對摺,兩邊再重疊。蓋好放雪櫃十五分鐘。
4) 取出後重複以上步驟二次,以致有4x4x4=64層。
5) 將麵團捍開至約三至四亳米厚之長方形,約一尺長。然後在長的一邊卷起,放雪櫃三十分鐘。
6) 將麵團切開十二等份,約一寸厚,模具塗油。
7) 切面向上,放入模具內用手指頭壓平及實,再放雪櫃鬆弛三十分鐘。或雪藏也可。

1) 在小鍋放奶油、牛奶、糖、蛋黃及玉米粉,邊攪邊用中小火加熱,稍微濃稠(約165F)便立刻離火,用冷水坐凍。
2) 加雲呢哪香油,攪勻備用。


1) 在做酥皮的過程,任何放雪櫃的程序也可以加長變放過夜也可。
2) 如想省時及功夫,市面雪藏即用的酥皮也可代替。

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!!

The low 320F oven temperature allows the starch in the batter to settle to the bottom before it coagulates. The amount of liquid in the recipe is almost 50% of the weight of the batter vs. 10-15% of a regular chiffon cake. This contributes to the creamy custard layer, very much like the texture of an egg tart.

The top layer is fluffy and soft just like regular cake, which is leavened by the air incorporated in the egg whites.

Not convinced? Try it yourself and you will be amazed, too!




Ingredients for making a 9x9x2 inch square or 9 inch round cake:

4 large eggs 蛋
150g sugar, separated into 125g and 25g 糖
125g unsalted butter, melted 牛油溶液
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 雲呢哪香油
65g cake flour, sifted 低筋粉
50g unsweetened cocoa powder, alkalized, or preferably Dutched 谷古粉 (click here to find out the difference between natural and alkalized)
500g whole milk, room temperature 全脂牛奶
1 tbsp water 水
½ tsp cream of tartar 他他粉
pinch of salt 鹽

1) Preheat oven to 320F. Line the bottom of the cake pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one laid on top, perpendicular to the other.

2) Separate the egg whites and yolks. Melt butter in a microwave. Sift flour together with the cocoa powder.
3) Whisk the yolks together with 125g sugar and 1 tbsp water until pale, about 2 minutes.

4) Add butter and vanilla. Whisk well, about 1 minute.
5) Add the flour mixture and a pinch of salt. Whisk until incorporated.
6) Add milk. Mix well. Set aside.
7) In another clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Then add 25g sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

8) Mix the two mixtures together by scooping the whites into the yolk batter and mixing with a whisk.

9) Pour the batter onto the prepared pan and bake for an hour. When it's done, the top of the cake should be golden brown and will jiggle a little when you shake the pan. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside to cool.

10) After the cake has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for a few hours to let the layers set before serving.

1) Due to the highly liquid nature of the batter, use of a springform pan is not recommended.
2) Two pieces of parchment paper are laid perpendicularly because they help to lift up the heavy cake after baking. Alternatively, you can grease and flour the pan and serve the cake directly from the pan without lifting the whole cake out.
3) Do not over bake. Over baking would make the middle custard layer become the bottom layer.
4) If the milk is from the refrigerator, warm it a bit in the microwave. Cold milk will harden the butter in the batter.
5) The cake is very fragile. Handle with care to avoid cracking -_-

1) 預熱焗爐至320度。焗盤上垂直放上兩張焗爐紙。
2) 將蛋分開蛋白與黃。麵粉與谷古粉過篩。牛油用微波爐溶解。
3) 蛋黃加125g糖與一湯匙水打約兩分鐘至奶白色。
4) 加牛油溶液與雲呢哪香油,攪勻約一分鐘。
5) 加麵粉及一小撮鹽,攪勻。
6) 加牛奶,拌勻。
7) 在另一清潔碗內放蛋白及他他粉,打至約五成起。加25g糖,再打至硬身。
8) 將蛋黃麵糊與蛋白混合,倒入焗盤內,入爐焗約一小時。
9) 一小時後將焗爐關掉,讓蛋糕在爐內慢慢降溫。涼後放雪櫃幾小時後才享用。

1) 不建議用兩件式焗盤,因為麵糊很稀,容易漏。
2) 焗爐紙垂直鋪焗盤可以有助將蛋糕焗後整個移出。
3) 蛋糕不可焗過熟。
4) 牛奶要室溫,太凍會令牛油凝固。
5) 此蛋糕要特別小心輕手處理,因有不同質地的層次,非常易碎。

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 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.

這款蛋糕是出自已故名廚Julia  Child其中一本食譜,甜度適中,入口鬆軟,除了有香濃朱古力味道外又有杏仁的香,令人一試難忘。

Ingredients for an 8 inch round cake: 做一個八寸蛋糕的材料

85g/3oz 60% dark/bittersweet chocolate 黑朱古力
28g/1oz unsweetened chocolate 無糖朱古力
2 tbsp coffee 咖啡
113g/1 stick unsalted butter, softened 室溫無鹽牛油
100g sugar 糖
3 large egg yolks 蛋黃

3 large egg whites 蛋白
½ tsp cream of tartar 他他粉
2 tbsp sugar 糖
pinch of salt 小許鹽

30g almond flour 杏仁粉
¼ tsp almond extract 杏仁香油
50g cake flour 低筋粉

1)  Preheat oven to 325F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch pan. Place parchment paper on the bottom and dust flour on the sides in addition to the grease.
2)  Melt chocolate in a microwave for 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between each. Alternatively you can use a water bath or double boiler to melt it.
3)  Prepare coffee by dissolving 1 tsp of instant coffee with a cup of hot water. Let it cool to room temperature.
4)  Cream butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 3 minutes with a stand mixer. Scrape down the sides and bottom.
5)  Add the yolks and beat until blended, about a minute.
6)  Add 2 tbsp coffee and mix until incorporated.
7)  In another clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
8)  Add 2 tbsp sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
9)  Blend the melted chocolate into the yolk and butter mixture.
10)  Add almond flour and almond extract and mix well.
11)  Scoop a quarter of the stiff meringue into the chocolate to lighten the mixture.
12)  Add the cake flour and fold.
13)  Fold in the rest of the egg white.
14)  Pour into the prepared pan and level the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Take the cake out by inverting the cake onto a plate. Continue to cool by re-inverting it on a rack with the top side up.

1) Almond flour is ground blanched almond. You can use store bought or use a food processor to ground your own.
2) It is more convenience to use chocolate which is in chip form.

1) 預熱焗爐至325度。焗盤塗油,放上焗爐紙,灑上薄薄麵粉備用。
2) 朱古力放入微波爐加熱至溶。
3) 咖啡用熱水開好,待涼。
4) 牛油加糖打約三分鐘至幼滑。刮邊及底部。
5) 加入蛋黃再打至溶合,加咖啡,攪勻。
6) 在另一清潔大碗內加蛋白及他他粉打幾分鐘,再加兩湯匙糖打至硬身。
7) 朱古力溶液加入蛋黃混合物內攪勻,加入杏仁粉及杏仁香油,攪勻。
8) 將約四分一蛋白加入攪勻,再加入低筋粉輕手拌勻。最後加入其餘蛋白拌勻。
9) 倒入焗盤,拌平後放入焗爐,焗廿五至三十分鐘,放架上待涼十分鐘,然後反轉倒在盤子上,再放架上待涼。

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.

這款嬌小栗子撻人見人愛,是 party 或 potluck 的首選甜品小食,一口一件。撻底又可以預早一、兩日前準備,餡料便在即日唧上便可,方便、快捷。

Ingredients for 23 min tarts or a 9 inch round tart (Pâte Sucrée):
84g unsalted butter, softened 室溫牛油
⅛ tsp salt 鹽
56g powdered sugar 糖粉
20g almond flour 杏仁粉
1 tsp vanilla extract 雲呢哪香油
32g whole egg 全蛋液
158g cake flour, sifted 低筋粉

1) Cream butter and salt using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 1 minute.
2) Scrape down the sides and add powdered sugar. Combine at low speed and scrape the sides.
3) Add almond flour and vanilla and combine at low speed.
4) Add the egg and a quarter of the flour. Combine at low speed.
5) Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
6) Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and shape into a block, about half an inch thick. Refrigerate overnight or at least 2-3 hours.
7) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently roll it into a quarter inch thick. Cut out the dough with a round cookie cutter and fit into the molds. Use a fork to poke holes.

8) Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
9) Pre-bake in a preheated 325F oven for 15-20 minutes or until slightly brown. Let them cool completely.

1) 牛油與鹽用機攪打約一分鐘。
2) 加糖粉用低速再打至均勻。
3) 加杏仁粉及雲呢哪香油,攪勻。
4) 加蛋液及四份一麵粉,用低速攪拌。
5) 再將餘下麵粉加入,攪勻至沒有見到乾粉便可,不要再攪,以免起筋。
6) 用保鮮紙將麵團包好,壓扁到約半吋厚,放雪櫃過夜或至少數小時至硬身。
7) 將雪過的麵團幹至約四份一吋薄,用圓型切模器切出後放上撻模內,用叉刺上小孔,放雪櫃至少一小時或過夜。
8) 預熱焗爐至325度,焗約十五至廿分鐘至金黃色。

Chestnut Filling: 栗子餡料
one 435g/15oz can chestnut puree, unsweetened 罐裝栗子茸,無糖
100g sugar 糖
354g heavy cream 鮮奶油
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 雲呢哪香油

1) Beat heavy cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks. Add vanilla. Mix well.
2) Strain chestnut puree to remove hard pieces.
3) Mix the puree with the cream until smooth.
4) Put a piping tip with small holes (# 234) in a piping bag. Fill with the puree and pipe onto the cool tart and garnish with a chestnut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

1) 鮮奶油加糖打至六成硬身。加雲呢哪香油,攪勻。
2) 栗子茸過篩,加入已打好之奶油,攪勻。
3) 唧咀(#234)放入唧花袋,放入栗子茸,唧好後可放上完粒栗子裝飾,放雪櫃至食用。

1) Almond flour can be substituted with equal weight of cake flour. But it will add more flavor to the crust.
2) The dough crust can be frozen for a long time.
3) The crust can be kept at room temperature for up to three days after pre-baking.
4) Straining the puree before piping helps to remove large pieces of chestnut that may clog the small holes in the piping tip.
5) This dessert can be made diabetic-friendly by using artificial sweetener in making the filling.

1) 杏仁粉可用同等重量之低筋粉代替,但加了杏仁, 撻底比較香。
2) 麵團做好可以長期雪藏。
3) 撻底焗好後可在室溫放兩、三日。
4) 栗子茸過篩後可以防止阻塞唧咀。
5) 如有須要,餡料的糖可以用代糖替代。

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!



Back to food....This light, no-bake cheesecake is perfect for any celebration or an after dinner dessert. It can be prepared ahead of time. It is light, with the right amount of sweetness with fresh strawberries and a crunchy Graham cracker base--heavenly!!

Ingredients for a 9 inch cake:

Cake Base 餅底:
158g Graham crackers 餅乾
78g unsalted butter, melted 無鹽牛油溶液

Crush the crackers into fine crumbs in a bag with a rolling pin or using a food processor.

Mix with the melted butter and press it into the bottom of a springform pan. Store in the refrigerator while preparing the cheese filling.


Cheese filling 芝士餡料:
1 egg yolk 蛋黃
10g gelatin sheet 魚膠片
57g water 水
100g sugar 糖
1 package cream cheese, 8 oz, room temperature 奶油芝士
200g heavy cream 重奶油
250 strawberry puree 草莓果泥

1) Put the egg yolk, water and 25g sugar in a small bowl. Put this small bowl in a larger pot with an inch of simmering water (not touching the bowl). Disinfect the egg yolk by heating the mixture in this water bath, constantly stirring until it reaches 160F-165F.

2) Soften the gelatin sheet in cold water. Add to the warm egg mixture to dissolve. Mix well and set aside.
3) Beat heavy cream with 25g sugar to stiff peak.
4) In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with 50g sugar until creamy and light.
5) Add the whipped heavy cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until incorporated.
6) Add the egg mixture to the cream mixture and mix well.
7) Add the strawberry puree and mix well. Scrape the bottom of the bowl.
8) Pour to the prepared springform pan. Refrigerate for a few hours or until set.

1) 在一鍋內加約一寸水煮滾後轉小火。25g 糖、水及蛋黃放碗內,將碗放鍋內,利用蒸氣令蛋黃消毒,不斷攪動至溫度達160-165度。離火。
2) 用冷水浸軟魚膠片,加入蛋黃液溶解。
3) 重奶油加25g糖打至硬身。
4) 奶油芝士加50g糖打至幼滑。
5) 加入已打好的重奶油,攪勻。
6) 加入蛋液,攪勻。
7) 最後加入草莓果泥,攪勻。
8) 倒入已做好的餅底,撥平後放雪櫃數小時至凝結。

Optional Topping 餅面裝飾:
10g gelatin sheet 魚膠片
80g strawberry puree 草莓果泥
300g water 水
70g sugar 糖

Dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add softened gelatin. Add puree and mix well. Let it cool down before pouring on top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate until set.


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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