Panda cookies

The other day I was at Isetan Scotts and saw a whole array of Bento tools and cookie cutters and I couldn’t help but purchase some of them. One of the sets that I bought was the panda cookie cutters and I thought I should experiment with using it before I get Faith to work on it.

This set comes with the explanatory notes but they are in nihon-go!! Thankfully, the pictures are easy to follow and understand. So I used my usual butter cookie recipe and did up a batch of these cute cookies.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you may add other extract if you desire)
1 tsp charcoal powder

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Add the charcoal powder to one of them and knead into a ball.
4.Place each dough between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Place them in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to firm up. I place mine in the freezer.

5. Working with the charcoal dough first, use the black cutter to cut out the base of the panda. Place them on the parchment paper/ silpat in the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator.

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6. Next, bring out the normal dough and cut out the other details. This part is a bit tricky. I find that when I press the cutters too hard for the eyes and nose, they will crack. So I compress the cutter slightly onto the dough and use toothpick to carve out the eyes.

After that, cut out the head and place it on the body. You have to do it quick since the dough softens fast.

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Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C.

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They take a long time to do and I think it’s not suitable for Faith to work on; I will get exasperated! So bake for about 12 – 15 minutes depending on your oven.

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Ta-da! There’s definitely room for improvement but I will have to wait till the kids aren’t around when I make these again. I was babywearing Dan while making these so the quality is not that good.

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Dan wants his share too!

Happy Tuesday!

(Gluten-free) Lavender shortbreads

For a while now, I have been reading up on gluten-free recipes and how the different ingredients work together when it comes to baking. This came about when a friend challenged me to bake a gluten-free cake for her since she is gluten intolerant.

I must say it isn’t easy for me to comprehend the endless combination of different flours, some of which are not used in my kitchen. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut explanation of the types of flour to use when and in what quantities, unlike the more conventional types of baking recipes that I’m used to. Many gluten-free recipes and books put me off until I came across this particular one – The Gluten-free Baker by Hannah Miles. The pictures are attractive enough and the recipes are straight-forward. This is exactly what I need to start my gluten-free baking adventure.

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I decided to try something simple to minimise failure. Cookies, aren’t they simple enough? We all started off with cookies, didn’t we? So I chose the lavender shortbreads since I have a good supply of culinary lavender in my pantry. Don’t waste!

For gluten-free baking flour, I choose to work with Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose baking flour. Granted that you can mix certain types of flours (such as tapioca flour, potato and rice flour) to make your own gluten-free flour but they are too complicated for me at the moment so I choose the ready-combined ones. In my recent baking, I have also switched to using organic raw sugar as compared to caster sugar whenever possible. The following is the adapted recipe.

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Ingredients

115g unsalted butter, softened
50g organic raw sugar
85g gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, finely ground
85g ground almond
a little milk, if required

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and add the lavender and ground almond. Bring together to a dough with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk t moisten it ( I didn’t have to do that).

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3. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, roll the dough into a long sausage shape with about 4cm diameter. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. At times, I prefer to use the freezer.

image 4. Once the dough is firmed up, cut into 1-cm thick slices and arranged on the prepared baking sheet, each at a small distance apart (they will enlarge when they are being baked). Press the back of a fork down into each shortbread to make ridges (for a nicer look but I forgot to do that!)

5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet before serving.

:: These shortbreads will keep up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.

I was pleasantly surprised at how tasteful the shortbreads are. The cookies truly smell delicious as you remove them from the oven. If you are into gluten-free baking, this is one recipe you might want to try!

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Growing with the Tans

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all wonderful moms out here! This year’s has been especially meaningful because Faith could articulate that greeting to me as she handed me a card she made from school ( with the teachers’ help, of course) and the lollipop flower that she received from Kids’ Church. It really warmed my heart as she ran towards me with the gift and said a Happy Mother’s Day to me. *heart melted* imageBeing a parent is tough. I mean, no one prepares us for that. In a way, we are thrown into that role but thankfully, we can always draw reference from our own parents and fellow moms and dads who are good role models. This year, for Mother’s Day, I got Faith to bake some sugar cookies and involved her in decorating them, just for the fun of it. It does promise a messy kitchen and table but the most important thing is she had fun. image To make the cookies, you need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less than that)
1/2 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 175C before baking.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to cream until they are mixed well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the wet mixture a little at a time until it is completely mixed in.

5. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of 0.5cm (or your desired thickness).

6. Chill for about 2 hours so that it will be easier to cut out the cookies using the cutters.

7. Cut out the dough using cookie cutters.

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8. Bake at 175C for about 10 minutes or until the edge starts to turn brown. Do place the cookies of the same size together on the sheet pan when you bake. This is to ensure consistency in baking of the cookies. imageAfter the cookies are baked and cooled, I got Faith to spread the surface with a little of the strawberry jam.

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Thereafter, I used edible flowers and got Faith to smell them. She would have to sprinkle the flowers onto the cookies and then you would have decorated cookies! Simple?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Foodie Friday: Chocolate Cookies

Got an idea to get Faith to be more involved in the kitchen by getting her to do some real work instead of rummaging through the drawers.

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Faith loves biscuits and she can just have them for her meals. Of course, the mother says NO to that idea but she can always have some as treats. I always have sheets of rolled sugar cookies in the freezer because you never know when you have guests or when your stomach calls for them! Besides, these sugar cookies can keep long in the freezer and yet can be ready to be munched in a short time.

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All you need are sheets of rolled sugar cookies dough, 2 round cutters of different sizes, a sheet pan and parchment paper/ silpat. After cutting the dough into circles, make a round mark using the smaller cutter.

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And then show the little one how to make holes using a sugarart tool. I thought this tool is just the right size for her. Note her concentration level and joy! Of course, you wont get nice buttons but it doesn’t matter!

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You can use toothpick too but it’s a tad too thin for Faith to use. Besides, you can’t make big holes with that.

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Faith gets to eat ONE cookie for her hard work!

There are so many recipes for sugar cookies on the Internet but this is the one I use.

230g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
50g dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
336g all-purpose flour
35g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together for 2 minutes. Stop, scrape and cream for another ½ – 1 minute.
4. Beat in the egg until well combined.
5. Add the sifted flour mixture to the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition.
6. When the last cup of flour is added, mix by hand. The dough will be stiff by now.
7. Divide dough in 2 balls and wrap in cling film until ready to use. (This dough will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer)
8. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on thickness of dough) or until the edge starts to turn brown.

Sugar cookies for CNY

A few days ago, a friend asked me to bake and decorate sugar cookies for Chinese New year after I posted some pictures on my FB.

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If you work with sugar cookies, you would realise that the dough melts easily and it can be difficult and messy to cut out shapes from it. In most recipes, they call for the dough to be placed in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 hours before you place it in between parchment paper, roll it flat to a certain thickness and then cut out shapes from it. Problem is, if I were to follow the instruction to a tee such as this, it would almost be impossible to cut out a good shape from the dough because it melts so easily.

So, I did it the way I think is better. After the dough has been rested and taken out from the refrigerator, I roll it and then place the dough in the FREEZER for it to firm up before doing the cut-outs. Obviously, the dough is hardened and you will need some strength to cut shapes out from it but at least the shapes maintain.

It’s always helpful to have this dough in the fridge since it can be kept in it for two weeks or up to 2 months in the freezer! After baking, you can decorate them using royal icing or fondant and then give them away as treats!

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Chocolate, vanilla and almond flavoured sugar cookies!

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Each cookie is individually packed which can be tiresome but the end result is so satisfying!

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Packed and all set to go! A few more days before CNY. What are you baking?

Matcha almond cookies

Think I am addicted to Matcha.
I have matcha noodles for lunch and I would have a cup of matcha after lunch every other day.

I couldn’t resist baking these matcha almond cookies!

I got the recipe from here, a website which I like and I am actually eating one of the cookies as I’m typing! Delicious. I love it!

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Brought Faith to swim at my friend’s. It’s a relaxing Wednesday though Faith wasn’t in her best behaviour.

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Green blouse to complement the Matcha cookies. Hah..

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CNY: Almond cookies

This CNY has been especially busy for me since mom has asked me to bake those goodies (save $). Have baked the peanut cookies, Kueh Bahulu, pineapple tarts and today, the almond cookies.

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This is a fuss-free recipe; it doesn’t require mixer. Just dump the ingredients and knead. But of course, there is always mishaps in baking. I put in two batches and one of them came out rather dark after switching to the fan mode. Suspect that the temperature is too high too. Will try another recipe which calls for a temperature of 150C instead of 180C. The turnout of these almond cookies is less than satisfactory. Maybe I have to toast the almond slices first? Hmm..hmm…

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Anyway…

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white chocolate, cranberry and pecan nut cookies

These cookies remind me of Christmas. There’s white chocolate and cranberries – colours of Christmas and they are complete with pecan nuts. Easy to bake.

300gm white chocolate (cut up into chunks – big and small)
100g unsalted butter
1 egg
50g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
85g caster sugar
50g dried cranberries, cut into smaller pieces
50g pecan nuts chopped (or macadamia nuts or others could work)

1. Preheat oven at 180C.
2. Melt 85g of the choc in a double boiler, then cool a little
3. Beat butter, egg, sugars and vanilla with an electric beater until creamy
4. Beat in the melted choc
5. Stir in the flour, baking powder, cranberries, nuts and remaining chocolate to make a stiff dough
6. Using a tablespoon measure , drop small mounds well spaced on a lined baking sheet (silicone baking sheets work really well
7. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes
8. Allow to cool for 1 -2 minutes then put on a cooling rack.

Sesame cookies

I think these cookies are for adults. They are not sweet so kids won’t like them ( I think) but they have a certain character in them which I cannot explain.

Source: Keiko’s Okashi: Sweet treats made with love

Ingredients
220g cake flour
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
50g toasted white sesame seeds
50g toasted black sesame seeds

1. Sift flour, then place in the freezer to chill. Bake the sesame seeds at 150C without preheating for 10-15 minutes. Leave aside to cool.

2. Beat butter, icing sugar and salt until soft and creamy. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add flour and sesame seeds and fold in with a spatula.

3. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper and shape into a 12 x 7 x 2.5 cm rectangle. Wrap dough in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 160C. Slice chilled cookie dough into 5 – 7 mm thick bars. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

5. Store cookies in an airtight container to keep them crisp

Cranberry Cornflakes Cookies


This type of cookies will find its way into the oven around Chinese New Year. I’ve decided to bake them because I have a bagful of dried cranberries at hand and I really ought to finish them up. I actually feel they give me a Christmasy feel rather than CNY due to the cranberries. Anyway, cranberries are good (think anti-oxidant!) and the cookies could feed the folks of CG on Saturday.

This is quite a fuss-free recipe.

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Happy Mid-week! Buckwheat Cookies

A few months ago, my friend A gave me a 1/2 bagful of organic buckwheat flour. “I’m done with the amount of flour that I need and I don’t know what to do with the reminder. Since you like to bake, maybe you will find some use with it.”

I actually don’t know too. I came across some recipes like buckwheat crepe and failed. It was stored in my freezer (do store specialty flour in this compartment of the refrigerator to ensure longer life span) until this recipe popped up before my eyes. I had my doubts. I mean, will anything with buckwheat taste good?

And they are delicious. Perhaps it’s because of the amount of butter that they taste like butter cookies to me, masking a little of the buckwheat flavour. The author, Amanda Hesser of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, commented that these cookies have an engaging flavour and not too much sugar and are great with tea. I concur. Come to think of it, they actually taste quite like the digestive biscuits I used to adore.

Mid-week. Weekends are marching in!

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Honey Spice Cookies

The dough is soft and hard to manage. Instead of rolling it out to 1/16 of an inch in thickness, I did a short cut by pinching small amount of it, rolled it into a ball and then flattened it. It would require more time in the oven, I reckon, since it is no longer that thin. The first batch came out soft but the flavour intensified after 2 days as the author has recommended. Freezing the dough a few days more, I baked again yesterday, this time, having them in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.

I realised they can be good.

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Joanne Chang’s Homemade Oreos

Another JC’s baked goods. I must say the oreos taste good and are easy to make though you might want to consider preparing the dough the night before so that it can sufficiently be chilled.

The recipe can be found here. I’m not in the mood to type out the recipe; my mind is on something else. After working through some of her recipes from the cookbook, I really think that it is worth your money. The baked products turn out delish!

Preparing the dough

Going into the oven

 

Filling on the cookie

Sandwiched!

Homemade oreos!

Chocolate chunks and pecan nutty cookies

So, these cookies are birthed based on my two likes – chocolate chunks and pecan nuts. After knowing more about chocolates, store-bought chocolate chips are less seen in my cupboard of chocolates. I prefer dark chocolate anytime (72% preferably) and normally buy them in a block or a whole piece as compared to chips.

Ken and I love crispy cookies and when these cookies came out of the oven and then cooled, I realised this is the texture that we both desire. I also love the crunchiness of the pecan nuts, making this a to-keep in my list of favourite cookies.

Makes about 50 cookies

200g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
105g firmly packed golden brown sugar
90g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
140g Pecan nuts, chopped
140g milk chocolate chips (3/4 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line baking sheet with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chunks and chopped pecan nuts using spatula.
4. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons unto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the dough 5cm apart. Bake until the bottoms and the edges are slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. They can last up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lesson ob @ Park Street School

It’s a mini dream come true. I went to Park Street School! For lesson observation, that is. =)

I have long wanted to visit this school, knowing that it is a private school and through its website, am attracted to the curriculum. I have written in before to inform them about my desire to volunteer in the school and though they have assured me that I would be updated once there is any vacancies, I had not heard from them since. After a casual comment made during the small group’s prayer session, Sarah T, knowing my interest, got me connected with a teacher there and then with just a few emails and within a week, I am invited to visit the school and observe her class!

School starts at 8am but I was at the doorstep at 7.40am. Darn, my watch was fast again! Thankfully, Sarah B, the teacher was already in and I was soon ushered into her classroom. Like most American schools, the teacher stays in the class all the time and that is her ‘office’. Sarah’s class was neat and colourfully decorated with students’ works and self-made posters. We had a short chat to acquaint each other and then I was shown the rest of the school. It is a pretty small building with about 200 students but hey, this makes the students and staff a tight-knitted family. I like it!

So what is so different about private schools as compared to the public schools. Well, for one, the school fees differ greatly. For a Grade 2 student, the fee is a whopping $18,200 per year! *Faint*

There are lots that I learnt today and I have written my observations which constitute 5 pages. Too tired to write now but I tell you, to teach in that class or that school is something I would fight for! For someone who doesn’t like to fight for anything and yet make that kind of statement tells a lot about the school.

I want to go back to the school. There’s so much to learn. I feel like I’m on practicum again.

Some pictures from the public garden which is near the school. Oh yes, did I tell you that the class size is a luxurious 14?

Minister Sir, would you please please consider reducing class size so that better rapport and teacher-student relationship could be built and maintained? For your consideration pls. As you start to visit the various schools in Singaland, do bear this in mind?

 

And I did my own version of chocolate chip cookies which I christen Choco Chunks and Pecan nutty cookies.

I love its crunchy texture. =)

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally got hold of David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert. I am baking what many would love – chocolate chip cookies – and I’m splurging today, by using Valrhona’s bittersweet chocolate! This is an indulgence definitely but I’m baking for my dear hubs who loves CCC and it’s all worth it!

I’m baking this using pecans and bittersweet chocolate. DL has recommended 10 minutes for the baking time for soft CCC and I did just that for my first batch. The second batch is in the refrigerator now and according to him and many other bakers, the dough improves with resting for at least 24 hours before baking. And for the subsequent batch, I want it crispier and would bake for a longer time.

  

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World Peace Cookies

I’m no Miss Congeniality and today’s not World Peace Day either but it doesn’t stop me from baking these intense chocolate-flavoured cookies. Just what we need for some comfort.

This recipe is taken from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours and the cookies are the brainchild of the Parisian pastry chef Pierre Herme. It’s delicious and if you are a fan of dark chocolate, you absolutely have to bake these.

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Butter Cookies

I didn’t intend to bake them but I received a distress signal from my sis who was at her wit’s ends; her cookies were unsuccessful and she wondered why.

We communicated for a while, laying all possibilities for the flakey cookies. I was puzzled because my sis has more experience in the kitchen and even if she were to encounter any difficulties, it would be other stuff and definitely NOT….cookies!

So, my curiosity was aroused and I wanted to test if the recipe was all right. I decided to bake them. We are 12 hours apart and I wanted to share my results before she retired for the day.

We shared the same technique and had the same result for the dough. But the finished products differed. Mine came out okay and were butter cookies all right. In the end, we both agreed that it could be her oven (or was it toaster?) that was the culprit. She has brought her toaster to the new place which used a different voltage and this could be the reason why her baked goods didn’t turn out well.

Yup. That could be it. Mystery solved! But well, I think my BIL would have to fork out some resources for an oven now.

From Notes on Cooking: Avoid even numbers when plating food.

Bilateral symmetry can suggest animal or human forms; shun such anthropomorphizing unless you are making gingerbread men. Imbalance adds interest. One exception: eggs, sunny-side up, look good in twos for some reason (likely Freudian).

Raspberry Jam Sandwich Hearts

I would have baked these for our wedding anniversary if not for the fact that I couldn’t find the cookie cutter (yes, I left all my cutters back home). A few days ago, I found the one that I wanted and today, it has arrived! Imagine the great joy!

So, the hands immediately went to work. I’ve all the ingredients ready, just waiting for the cutter. The ingredients needed were simple and mixing easy. I found the difficult part was the moulding of the shapes since one had to be careful to peel the dough and bring to the baking tray. Since it was not thick, it could go out of shape easily and my patience was tested. However, when you were able to assemble all the ‘parts’ together, the product was beautiful!

Let’s go through the steps together!

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
6 tsp seedless raspberry jam

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla and almond extracts and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Remove 1 dough from the refrigerator. Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Slide a thin metal spatula under the dough to loosen it from the rolling surface. Using a 6cm heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Using a 2.5cm heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the centre of half of the cookies. Place the larger hearts 4cm apart on the prepared parchment paper. I return the smaller hearts back to the dough to work on the remaning hearts. Repeat the procedure.

 

 

6. Bake the cookies until the edges are light brown about 15-20 min (depending on your oven). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to the wire rcks to cool completely.
7. Leaving a 6mm border uncovered, spread about 1 tsp of the raspberry jam over each cookie with a cutout. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the cutout cookies with icing sugar. Place the cutout cookies on top of the jam-covered cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Adapted from Essentials of baking.

Peanut Butter cookies with chocolate chips

The other day, after baking Peanut Butter cookies, a friend sent me Curtis Stone’s Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks. I thought I could just bake them since (1) we are finishing our peanut butter cookies and (2) I have all the necessary ingredients anyway. I don’t have the chocolate chunks and so I replaced them with chocolate chips.

In then end, I still prefer those crunchy, crispy cookies to the soft chewy types.

While baking, I decided to check out KitchenAid’s Standmixer. I have always wanted one since I started baking and heard wonderful review and stories about it. Once, I went for the cupcakes demo class at Shermay’s Cooking School and I’ll always remember one remark that the instructor made, ” You guys have the KitchenAid mixer right, right?” Since that day, I would occasionally go to the retail store near my workplace after lunch and admire those sexy machines and promised myself that I would get one eventually.

SO, when we moved over to US, I thought it would be great to buy one since the price is a real bargain. It was about half the price back home. The hubs had also agreed to buy for me (yea!) and so, to be certain, I went to check on the voltage since I would be bringing back to Singapore after our short stay here.

To my dismay, US units are 110V while we run on 220V (the same as Europe) and it would cause problem if I were to bring it back home to use (thankful to find useful info on David Lebovitz’s site). I was so downcast as I was baking the cookies until the hubs suggested some solutions:

1. Buy and use and then sell online before going back.
2. Buy a second-hand and then sell online before going back. In both cases, I need to check if there is a market for that. 3. Use a transformer when we go back home.

It’s really kind of him to offer to buy even though the odds are against me. I know he didn’t want me to be sad but I really ought to think through properly. I know I would use the mixer very often since I’m here to bake to my heart’s content but I don’t want it to be a white elephant when we go back (i.e. if I don’t sell it).

Argh. I hate making decisions.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Whenever we decide to whip up a dish, I find more often than not, it is because we want others to have a share of it too. And today, I bake Peanut Butter Cookies because I was reminded by a dear friend of mine who bought my first cupcake for me to taste. I remember that she loves peanut butter (and not raisins!) and when I came across this recipe, I told myself, I must bake for her. Not that she will be here to savour the cookies but well, I hope my baking will cheer her up a wee bit. I hope.

This recipe is from Alice Medrich’s book, Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies but also found in Saveur. For most baking attempt, I would try to half the proportion. This is mine which yields about 22 cookies, and measurement in scales.

Ingredients
85g all-purpose flour
1/4 tso baking soda
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g granulated sugar
30g packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
155g creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside. Put the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute ( I took longer). Add the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, and beat until just smooth, about 30 seconds. Stir in the reserved flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 12 ( I refrigerate overnight).

2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, then preheat oven to 325°. Pinch off heaping tablespoon-size pieces of dough and roll into balls. Arrange balls 2 1/2” apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Use tines of a fork to flatten balls to a thickness of about 1/2” and to make a grid pattern on top. I found dipping the fork in hot water before using it to flatten the balls help as it does not stick too much to them. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

I have planned to run a  half-marathon this weekend and since I am hungry every now and then, I decided to bake…again just so that I could have some bites before and after the run. I thought a biscotti would be nice?

This was my first time baking a biscotti and the sense of trepidation was here again! I followed the recipe in the book ‘Essentials of baking’ but did a half portion since Ken and I could not finish the portion prescribed in the recipe. And since I could not find almond extract from the supermarket, I did without it.

Ingredients (makes 24 cookies)

2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (185g) sugar
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract (essence)
1 tsp almond extract (essence)
1 cup (125g) coarsely chopped pistachio nuts ( I didn’t toast them)
1/2 cup (60g) dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180C). Line a rimless baking sheet with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted butterm orange zest and vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the pistachio nuts and cranberries. The dough will be soft and sticky.
4. Scoop out half of the dough onto one half of the prepared baking sheet and form it into a log 25cm long. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the logs 7.5cm apart. Press the logs gently to make them 7.5cm wide. With damp fingertips, gently smooth the surface of the logs.

   

* At this point, I could not form the log as indicated as my dough flows. So instead of the baking sheet, I place my dough in the loaf pan.

5. Bake the logs until they are crisp and golden on the outside, 20-25 minutes. The centres will be soft. (I bake for 30 minutes). Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F (150C). Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
6. With a wide spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife ( I used chef’s knife since I don’t have one), cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into slices 2cm thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down on the baking sheet and return to the oven to bake for 17-25 minutes until the cookies are crisp and brown. In between, I flipped the cookies for even baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. The interiors of the cookies become crisp as they cool ( really!).

 

in my own world...

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday, I was at the supermarket and couldn’t resist the chocolates at the counter and…bought it. One month without chocolate is truly deprivation of the tastebud (or stomach or whatever!) and so I decided to start baking. Yes! Finally! Goodness, when was the last time I baked?

It is also high time to test the oven and the handheld electric mixer that I brought over. I will be following the lessons from the book ‘Essentials of baking’ and the first set of lessons would be on cookies, bars and brownies. Dropped cookies such as the ones that I am baking are formed by dropping spoonfuls of dough into a prepared baking sheet and is highly easy!

It is also 59 days to my marathon and I really need the extra motivation to get me running. Ok. So the triple chocolate chips are awfully sinful enough to get me moving. One cookie for each 10km run. =p

I thought the cookies spread a tad too much during baking and according to the write-up, it could be because the butter was too soft when added (could be!).

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Almond Snow Balls

I have been tasked to provide refreshment for CG for the rest of the weeks till we leave for Boston. So today would be Tiramisu (again?!) and Almond Snow Balls which is a real easy recipe.

Makes about 45

150g Pastry/ cake flour
120g Unsalted butter
50g Icing sugar + extra for dusting
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
50g Ground almonds

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Sift flour once. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until softened. Fold flour and almonds into butter mixture using a spatula. In the end, I use my hands instead (more even and faster). Chill dough in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

3. Roll dough into small balls (about 10g each) and place them on a baking sheet. Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes, then remove from heat and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. Once cooled, dust cookies with icing sugar and store in an airtight container to keep them crisp.

Source: Okashi from Keiko Ishida

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints

(from Martha Steward Living)

Makes 40

11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam

1. Preheat over to 180C. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat peanut butter and butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugars, and beat until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

2. Scoop level tablespoons of dough and form into balls. Roll each ball in caster sugarm and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

3. Bake until cookies are puffy, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and make indentations in centres by pressing with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Return to oven and bake until edges are golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Transfer sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely.

4. Heat jam in a small saucepan, stirring, until loosened, about 3o seconds. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Cookies can be stored in a single layer for up to 1 week.

Almond Cookies

Ingredients:
125g unsalted butter
65g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract/ almond extract
1 medium egg, slightly beaten
125g plain flour
50g ground almonds
few flaked almonds (about 10-15g)
caster sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Cream butter and sugar together and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg very gradually, beating all the time, then beat in the vanilla extract.
4. Mix in the flour and ground almonds, either with a spoon or on slow speed in the electric mixer then, using a dessertspoon, scoop little piles of the mixture on to the tray. Press a few flaked almonds on top of each.
5. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.

Cornflakes Cookies

Ingredients
100g sugar
250g unsalted butter (melted)
500g Kellogg’s cornflakes
2 tbs honey
100g cherries (cut into small cubes)

Method
1. Heat butter, sugar and honey, stirring the mixture constantly.

2. Use the dough roll to crush the cornflakes into smaller pieces (use of hands is all right).
3. Pour the mixture (while hot) into the bowl of cornflakes, mixing them thoroughly.
4. Scope them into the small muffin paper cups.

Drop Cookies


These are the simplest cookies to make. They are called drop cookies because the dough is soft enough to drop off the spoon and on to the baking sheet. The basic mixture is often made by the creaming method where butter and sugar are beaten together until light and fluffy. Eggs are then beaten in, followed by flour, raising agents and any flavourings.

I did the (i) Chocolate Chip and Macademia Nut Cookies (ii) Chocolate Chip and Raisin Cookies.

Makes 12

115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain (all-purpose) flour
175g chocolate chips/raisins/macademia nuts (proportion accordingly)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Sift the flour over the butter mixture and fold in with the choco chips/raisins/macademia nuts.

2. Carefully drop tablespoonfuls of the cookie mixutre on to the prepared baking sheets (lightly greased). Leave plenty of space between the cookies to allow for spreading while baking.

3. Gently flatten each cookie slightly with the back of a fork, trying to keep the shape of each cookie as even as possible.

4. Bake the cookies in the oven for about 10-15 min or until they are a light golden brown colour.

Source: Cookies, Brownies, Bars & Biscuits by Catherine Atkinson