The Sitch and Cinnamon Buns

I really hope you had a lovely Easter weekend! It’s honest but heartbreaking to say that I was not really feeling it this year, but I’m trying. This week personally has really been about trying to focus on the silver linings, besides throwing myself a couple of short pity parties here and there.

Hate to ruin the spirits and sound like an ungrateful brat, but I could’ve been spending the holidays with my family this weekend if all of my plans didn’t get canceled, and I just needed to get it out there. And if you know me and my love for Indonesian foods, you’re probably not surprised that I had my trip planned out down to the foods I was going to eat on every meal, so when they announced border closures and travel ban a few weeks back, I just had to give myself some rights to a number of impulsive breakdowns throughout the month.

On another note, I turned 24 two Fridays ago. It’s more or less a “Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt” – Jake Peralta, practically every Brooklyn99 episode. Time really flies but at the same time, it felt like March alone had lasted a decade.

It should go without saying that I had a really lovely one, despite only getting to celebrate within the confines of our apartment – Chinese takeout from this fancy new place we’re trying across the street, making wishes and blowing candles with my housemates, countless of Facetime/Zoom sessions with my families, and the sweetest surprise from my closest friends. It’s an understatement to say that my people are what keeps me sane, the loneliness bearable, and the days just a bit lighter.

And while it’s disappointing that all my plans were postponed, I have become increasingly aware of how blessed and lucky I am in this situation. I instantly feel more grateful than upset knowing that we are healthy, our family is healthy, and I am in the incredibly fortunate position of having jobs that allow me to work from home. I know that all of us are doing our best for ourselves and for the people around (but far away) from us.  Those are truths we can carry with us today. 

The fact that I’m unable to stand still and not being able to plan much is enough to drive me insane around here — which is why I’ve been distracting myself with intricate recipes, home workouts, good books, binge-worthy series, and Facetiming everyone as much as I can. So to end things on a sweet note (see, I try) – these Cream Cheese Cinnamon Buns were brought to life last weekend, because no matter how crazy the sitch is, some things remain the same – my sweet tooth and need for little cakes.

P.s. It takes almost a whole day but I promise you – it really was the most decadent, comforting, cinnamon smelling, yeast rolls I could find. And it’s not like you need to spend even more time staring at your wall, it’s not going anywhere.

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Some comfort worth sprinkling

How are you?

If you’re anything like me and alternating between two realities of “occasional unsettling fear” and “snoozy TGIF feelings” every day, then we’re on the same boat. And maybe we can all be in both places these days and that’s okay. At the same time, I’ve been trying to practice social distancing as much as possible and embrace working from home (new discoveries include finding the noise from our dryer running in the background to be quite soothing when I write emails).

It’s quite unsettling that we somewhat have an idea of what’s going on but at the same time don’t have any of the answers. I personally think that this whole experience is the jarring reminder we all need that there are things in life which you are in control of, and those you’re not. Shit happens, but you can always control your attitude and how you deal with it.

It’s uncharted territory for us all and we’re all experiencing some disruption one way or another. Weddings get postponed, flights get canceled, and birthdays are spent at home. But in what is true and good news, if there is anything this whole event has taught me, is that 1). we’ve got each other while we navigate through this weird and temporary reality together, 2). some folks really can’t live without toilet papers, and 3). we’ve got plenty of time to bake.

As baking is what I do best in times of ease and times of trouble, here’s a foolproof tiramisu recipe worth making (heads up: very easy, requires no baking but a lot of patience), just to give you another reason to stay home. Hoping you’re all staying healthy and cozy indoors and finding the little things that bring you joy: it could be doing your nails, FaceTiming your friends and family back home, or maybe you want to sit on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 45 minutes, I’m not here to tell you that’s a bad idea. Sounds pretty chill if you ask me.

Be well, stay in, and see you on the other (brighter) side. X

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Ingredients:

125ml strong black coffee
3 tbsp Amaretto, brandy, or Kahlua (optional)
2 eggs
4 tbsp caster sugar
250gm mascarpone cheese
300ml double cream, whipped thick
50gm plain dark choc, chopped (I used 54%)
50gm plain milk choc, chopped
50gm white choc, chopped
2 packs of Italian Ladyfingers
Cocoa powder for sprinkling

Mix the black coffee with the amaretto or brandy (if I’m not self-isolating I would run off to the nearest BWS and get myself some liquor for that kick, but this time I just make a strong espresso base).

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until light and thick.

Put the mascarpone in a bowl and stir in a small amount of the egg mix. Fold in the rest, then the whipped cream.

In a large serving dish, dip the sponge fingers quickly into the coffee and liquor mix, then layer the sponge fingers as the base. Spread half the mascarpone on top, then sprinkle over half the white choc and dark choc. I substituted this with some Daim chocolate my housemate got me from Sweden.

Repeat the layers using the remaining ingredients and sprinkle the remaining chocolate and cocoa powder.

Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or even better overnight.

Served best with a cup of black coffee with a dash of milk!

Donna Hay’s Classic Chocolate Mousse

Summer is well within our grasp and we’re certainly enjoying our long weekend life here in the Down Under.

I remember getting a few questions about this chocolate mousse when I posted a picture of it on an Instagram story a few weeks ago. So while it’s not every week I get an extra day to just sit in my aircon-blasted bedroom, (finally) declutter my bathroom sink, and recover from yesterday’s island trip sunburn – I reckon sparing a few minutes of my Monday afternoon jotting down a chocolate dessert recipe wouldn’t hurt.

I had brought over a dozen bars of chocolate back from my Europe trip last month and I’ve been constantly finding time and excuses to try out any kind of chocolate-involving recipes (not that you need any reason to have a chocolate fix). 

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite Australian bakers Donna Hay with some tweaks I picked up from Nagi’s mousse recipe from recipetineats to make it the proper French way – but still very much approachable (I’m all about her foolproof methods). It only requires a few (just FIVE) ingredients that I’m sure you already have sitting in your fridge right now. Make it make it!

While it would work with all types or any supermarket-bought baking/cooking chocolate, I would recommend splurging a little bit if you can get your hands on a really good quality dark/bittersweet chocolate for this one. The richer the better. A little bit of indulgence every now and again can’t be bad for the soul, you know. 

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Ingredients

200G DARK CHOCOLATE, CHOPPED

20G BUTTER

3 EGGS, SEPARATED

1 TABLESPOON CASTER (SUPERFINE) SUGAR

1 CUP (250ML) THICKENED/WHIPPING CREAM

FRUITS/CHOCOLATE SHAVINGS TO TOP

Method

  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Ohhh melty chocolate.. the things I can do with you are endless.
  2. Stir through the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture and set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
  5. Fold the whisked egg whites through the chocolate mixture, then the whipped cream. Spoon into serving glasses and refrigerate until firm. The recipe recommends a 5-hour minimum, but I did overnight just to be safe.
  6. Top with more whipped cream and any fruits or chocolate shavings to serve (because there’s no such thing as too much chocolate).

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