The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need to Know

I’m always constantly on the quest for finding the perfect, failproof classic recipes – from brownies, sponge cakes, to chocolate chip cookies. Also, it should come to no surprise that I take every chocolatey snacks very seriously.  So when a friend introduced this recipe as her holy grail, I knew I had to make it too. They turned out amazing with the perfect consistency – a little crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

The process itself isn’t difficult or time-consuming, although they require some serious patience when it comes to chilling the dough before baking it (the recipe calls for only 1 hour, but I would recommend chilling it for at least 24 hours, preferably up to 36 hours to guarantee that crispy-exterior-chewy-inside texture). Do keep in mind they only last for 3 months (but who’s really counting when my housemates nearly inhaled all of them in one night).

There aren’t many ways to improve a classic chocolate chip cookie until I read about adding a sprinkle of sea salt from this other recipe (you know it’s legit when it was featured in the NY Times Cooking website). I know how crazy this sounds, but just do it, and thank me later. It makes all the sweetness sing, and I’m definitely never skipping this step again.

Another key to the magic here is the addition of cornstarch – which when mixed into all-purpose flour, actually becomes cake flour! (another secret tip I just learned from my friend). I know I’ll always be prepared with some extra cookie dough from now on, for days when nothing could beat the feeling of discovering a bag of some frozen ready-to-bake chocolate gems in the freezer.

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A KitKat Themed Weekend

I just got home from the gym on Sunday morning, when my roommate handed me over a piece of folded paper torn from an Indonesian magazine and said “make me this.” I was nothing less than confused at first to see a page full of some random massages parlors’ ads, but on the other side was a recipe for KitKat brownies (also found here). It was a rather perfect timing since I had been looking for something to bake on the weekend (despite just coming home from the gym, naturally).

It was essentially a classic brownies recipe with some chopped KitKats added to the mixture and as toppings too. It was a delicious mix between chewy and crunchy, and I couldn’t think of better snacks to bring into the office the next day (got to start Monday mornings right).

Ingredients:

115 gr unsalted butter
200 gr dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs
225 gr granulated sugar
130 gr plain flour, sifted
20 gr cocoa powder, sifted (I used Nestle’s baking chocolate powder)
150 gr Kit Kat, chopped into cubes

  1. Preheat your oven to 190’C. Prep a 18x18cm dish with some baking paper, making sure to cover all the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the sifted flour and coco powder (dry ingredients).
  3. In a pan, melt the unsalted butter and dark chocolate over medium heat. Stir continuously until it is shiny, smooth. Once completely melted, lift off the heat and let it cool for a bit on the counter.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar using hand whisker or electric mixer on low. Let it dissolve into the warm chocolate mixture.
  5. Mix in 3 eggs into the wet ingredients.
  6. Mix in 1/2 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the chopped Kitkat into the wet mixture. Whisk briefly with a spatula until everything is just incorporated. You don’t want to over-mix.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepped baking dish and sprinkle over the rest of the KitKats on top.
  8. Bake in preheated oven (190’C) for 20 minutes on the top rack of your oven.
  9. Transfer the dish to the middle rack and lower heat down to 150 ‘C. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Let brownies completely cool before cut and served.

Ps. best served with a heaping spoon of vanilla ice cream!

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Chocolate Baileys Soufflé

Besides baking the annual chocolate pavlovas for Australia Day this year, I invited my girlfriend over (and her bottle of Baileys) to knuckle down our first attempt at making soufflés. I recall my first encounter with a chocolate soufflé in Bakerzin. It was served with the richest vanilla ice cream and was easily love at first bite.

A few legal drinking years later, this time we decided to incorporate some Baileys Irish cream to make it extra luxurious and take the flavor to the next level. Light as air, melt in your mouth puffiness, this one is complemented with dollops of homemade Crème Anglaise (don’t get intimidated by the name, it couldn’t be easier to make). Sure, it collapsed 2 minutes after we took it out of the oven, but it was the most delicious hot gooey mess I’ve eaten in weeks.

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This recipe is originated from Chocolate & Connie and makes 6 servings. 

Ingredients:

For the soufflés:
½ cup milk
¼ cup + 6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Bailey’s® Irish Cream liqueur
10 egg whites at room temperature

For the Bailey’s Crème Anglaise:
½ cup milk
¼ cup + 6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup Bailey’s® Irish Cream liqueur

First, we want to start with our Crème Anglaise since we want our soufflés to be served immediately after coming out from the oven. We need to make sure our Crème Anglaise is ready by then.

1). In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until slightly thickened and lighter in color. Set aside.

2). In a medium saucepan, warm the heavy cream and milk over medium heat just until steaming but not boiling.

3). Slowly pour half the warm milk mixture into the yolks while whisking continuously. This method of tempering the eggs will keep them from scrambling.

4). Pour the now-warm yolk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine.

5). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This will only take a few minutes.

Now here comes the fun part, our soufflés.

1). Preheat the oven to 180°C

2). Lightly butter your ramekins and sprinkle the inside with sugar, tap out any excess

3). Whisk the milk, ¼ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and vanilla in a small dish and set aside

4). Melt the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until melted

5). Stir in the milk mixture in 2 additions, whisking until evenly blended (Expect the mixture to be a thick paste and may look a little grainy – it will smooth out after the whites are folded in)

6). Stir in our Bailey’s® and keep the chocolate paste warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, transfer the warm chocolate to a large bowl.

7). Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy then slowly pour in the remaining 6 tbsp of sugar.

8). Continue to whip until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted

9). Fold in a third of the whites into the warm chocolate and quickly but gently fold them in – they will deflate quite a bit, but this is expected

10). Fold in the remaining two thirds of the batter until incorporated then pour this into the prepared soufflé dishes

11). Bake the soufflés for 10 to 12 minutes until the tops take on a dull look, but the inside still looks shiny and soft where a crack may form. Serve immediately with the creme while it’s warm.

 

Happy Australia Day!

To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Australian desserts with you to enjoy, a chocolate pavlova. I have been baking pavlova for years every holiday season at home, even before moving to Australia. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson (as seen here) with a little tweak to make a smaller serving portion (my recipe makes 3 small meringues).

I used Haigh’s dark chocolate here – another much-loved Australian brand that creates premium quality chocolates. It’s an Adelaide icon that I discovered when I was visiting in 2016, and I really wish they’ll open a store in Brisbane soon.

The truth is – they require some serious patience, something that I have very little of when it comes to baking. The prepping process itself isn’t difficult, but the key to the magic is all in the wait time for the meringue to bake and cool down in the oven (an hour an a half, to be exact). It’s worth the crisp and chewy chocolate meringue base, which I wouldn’t have had any other way.

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For the meringue you need:

3 large egg whites
150 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped)

For the topping you need:

300 milliliters double cream
Mixed berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)
3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle with the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
  3. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle (you can do it as small or as big as you want), smoothing the sides and top.
  4. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious color and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate’s rim.

 

I hope you try this recipe and have a lovely long weekend from the Down Under! X

Beach Hopping in Byron Bay

You know those awkward days between Christmas and New Years when you’re just kinda lost and don’t know what to do? I knew better than to fool myself into thinking that I was going to be productive – we all know it was going to be spent binge watching some trashy TVs and eating junk. So a couple of friends and I decided to might as well get out of town, and here’s documenting our visit to the small cosy coastal town of Byron Bay, New South Wales.

DAY 1

If there are two things I love doing when traveling, is going on a roadtrip, and going to the waters. Both of which I got to do during this 3-day roadtrip I will take you through. We rented a car from Brisbane and slowly made our way to Byron Bay and made it to our first stop at the Famous Yatala Pies just in time for breakfast. I treated myself to their classic steak&mushroom pie and apple turnover, and just thinking about those pies got me low-key drooling right now, so let’s get a move on.

Our second stop along the way (about 100km south of Brisbane) was Springbrook National Park, located just before the border of New South Wales. After seeing tons of pictures of the park’s Natural Bridge from Google, you would expect the view to be no less than perfect. And after about a half an hour hike through a beautiful subtropical rainforest (it was even better after the rain), it’s safe to say that no pictures could do the place justice. Definitely one of the waterfalls to see when you visit Queensland, hands down.

After about an hour drive across the border, we checked into our accommodation, Two Birds & The Aviary. While far from the usual Airbnb gig I’d normally go for (a tent with a sleeping bag, a shared bathroom, and communal kitchen), I’m proud to say that I survived my first legit camping experience! I’m also really happy about the fact that the camping ground had direct access to Tallows Beach and is an easy roll in to town.

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DAY 2

We started the day with an attempt to catch sunrise at Cape Byron (only to be greeted by rain), which is the most easterly point of mainland Australia and home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. Nestled in under the Lighthouse is the Wategos Beach, surrounded by stunning cliffs and crashing waves.

After breakfast, we were headed to Whites Beach, one of Byron’s hidden gems. Take note though, it was quite a struggle for us to get there. We had to travel down a dirt road that winds through the rainforest, our car broke down (God bless the people who stopped by to help jump start our car in the middle of nowhere), almost an hour spent on waiting due to limited parking spots, and trekked along a narrow path down to the beach.

But trust me, it’s worth sweat and sunburn. From white sands, crystal clear water and secluded rock pools, I’m so happy we didn’t give up when we had a million reasons to. We continued with lunch by the beach, a little stroll around town and ended the day in Main Beach, surrounded by live music, sunset, and my loved ones.

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DAY 3

Not being much of an early riser, I’d make exception for a sunrise by the beach, because all the lack of sleep always pays off when Mother Nature puts on her finest show. The track from my camp to Tallow Beach itself is literally a path to paradise taken right out of Nicholas Sparks’ novel. While no sunrise will ever be the same, this one will forever remain one of my favorites.

We ended our trip with a short visit to The Farm, and if you know me, I’ve always had a soft spot for places like this one. From the sunflower plots, cattle-dotted fields, to their restaurant, produce store, bakery, and a florist, I couldn’t stop roaming around this rustic-themed oasis like a kid in a candy store. After grabbing some quick drinks and fish&chips, we drove back to Brisbane and shamelessly stopped at Yatala to bring some frozen pies home, again (it’s that good!).

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Teas I Love

I’m always more of a tea person than a coffee one, and this post will be dedicated for my recent love of the beverage. I don’t really know how to describe it but I feel like tea is “lighter” than coffee and a gentler way to start the day.  I used to only drank a few cups every now and then, but now at least a cup of tea in the morning has become my daily norm and I’ve started to incorporate it into my evenings as well. I find it really relaxing to enjoy a hot cup of tea after work, especially in bed with a good book, while shuffling through my many Spotify playlists.

On another note, it seems that I get more cold and scratchy throats in spring than any other time of year. Maybe it’s the seasonal weather changes, but it is no fun when it hurts to swallow, and drinking tea simply tops my list of natural soothers. Seriously, what isn’t tea good for? It’s a great way to warm up, change things up from regular water, and get some extra antioxidants in.

While I’m all about ordering fruity-flavored iced teas in restaurants, I mostly gravitate towards the classic English Breakfast and Chamomile for hot teas at home. However, I’ve recently discovered some interesting flavors and tea blends that I totally got hooked on! Here I wanted to share my favorite tea varieties that I’ve been rotating in my daily takes along with the benefits of each and what I like about them. Straight up!

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Calming Blend – English Tea Shop

Besides the cutest packaging (which obviously drew my attention on the first sight), I love how this one is naturally caffein free, since most teas tend to still have a subtle taste of coffee. It’s a heady, calming blend of natural ingredients – smooth licorices, sweet peppermints, aromatic cinnamon, and intoxicating lavender. The scent of this tea smells just like cinnamon with a hint of mint and I love that it’s very light and mild. I bought this in a gourmet store in Perth and definitely looking forward to re-purchase it when I’m back in Australia.

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The Rose (Rose Tea) – Mlesna Singapore Specialty Gourmet Tea

This one is the loose leaf kind and although it takes few extra steps and tools before enjoying, using loose leaf tea creates a much more delicious and flavorful tea than pre-packaged tea bags. I bought this in Singapore Botanic Gardens on my last visit when they happened to be giving free tea samples at the shop that time, and I fell in love on the first sip. This is a light and gently flavored tea that will treat you to the sweet aroma of the rose garden.

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Peppermint – Tea Drop

This has to be my favorite since it tastes very light with just the perfect hint of mint and so easy to make. This one comes with these little peppermint-infused cubes and all you have to do is unwrap one of these babies and pop it right into a cup of hot water. This is a delicious green tea that is perfectly minty without being too overpowering. It gives me that nice, cool sensation in my throat and has none of the bitterness that traditional green tea has. I love how much this tastes like sucking on a peppermint candy!

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Lastly, this mug was such a sweet find that I picked up at Kikki K a few months back in Singapore. They’re perfect for drinking tea or coffee and I just love the rustic look and how the cute quote reminds me that every day is a new chance to get things right.

Coffee Cupcakes with Espresso-Infused Buttercream

I’ve never been a really big coffee drinker. I certainly don’t tolerate plain espresso shots, and call me lame, but I still like my coffee with cream and sugar. I only drink them occasionally when I’m pulling an all-nighter or just whenever Starbucks is throwing a membership discount and I feel like sipping a light caramel macchiato or whatever they were advertising in my email subscription list.

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But there was always something about the smell of coffee that just wakes me up without even taking a sip. One of the reasons I love making these cupcakes (besides the fact that they are irresistibly delicious)  is because it leaves my whole kitchen smelling like a coffee shop even hours after we were done.

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If your coffee preference is anywhere near mine (Not the really strong kind and just with a hint of sweetness), then I’m pretty sure you will be obsessed with these cupcakes because they came out exactly like my perfect cup of coffee, with a subtle chocolate flavor, and the right amount of espresso-infused buttercream on top. This is a really great recipe to experiment with different types of coffee (I am currently using Excelso’s premium roast ground Java Arabica), but I do recommend using the darker roasts or any kind with the stronger flavor to really bring out that coffee taste. It’s been a new favorite in my workplace and I want you to be able to make them too. The results are a moist, melt-in-your-mouth coffee cupcake experience.

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Mocha Cupcakes With Espresso Buttercream
Yield: 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:
½ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons espresso powder
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

For the Espresso Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Make the Cupcakes: In a measuring cup, whisk the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until completely dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla extract; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the coffee mixture, mixing each until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir to ensure everything is incorporated.

5. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.

6. Make the Frosting: In a small bowl, whisk the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

7. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high speed until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and My Baking Addiction