Nutella Brownie

This is as close to a paleo diet as you can get! Nutella and eggs are all you need. If you like to be more fancy, you are welcome to add some hazelnuts. Yup, no flour required!

1. Prepare hazelnuts by crushing them to half or quarter (fine crushed hazelnuts will disappear as you heat up your brownie). Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Crushed hazelnuts

Crushed hazelnuts

2. Warm/softens Nutella either by sitting jar in hot water bath, or scoop Nutella out of jar and heat with microwave.

Medium size jar 220g nutella

Medium size jar 220g nutella

3. For a medium size jar (220g) use four eggs. Beat eggs until it all gets white and fluffy, takes a good 5-6 min with an electric beater.

Beat four eggs until white and fluffy

Beat four eggs until white and fluffy

 

4. Empty the jar of Nutella into the eggs, fold gently until mixed thoroughly. Add in the hazelnuts.

Fold nutella into whipped eggs, then add nutella

Fold nutella into whipped eggs, then add nutella

5. Pour mixture into pan lined with baking paper and put into oven set at 180 degrees Celsius.

2015-05-13 20.13.05

 

6. Takes about 15 min to cook. Checking by sticking a skewer through. For a thoroughly cooked brownie the skewer should be dry.

2015-05-13 20.33.16

 

7. Once ready take it out of oven and cool before cutting.

 

2015-05-13 20.55.35

8. Feel free to sprinkle icing sugar on top. Can be served with yoghurt, whipped cream, cream, ice cream, strawberries, addition nuts…etc etc. Enjoy ūüôā

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream – Kowloon, Hong Kong

Today I visited¬†Lab Made, Asia’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream shop. Look at the queue!

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, actually… because¬†I live close by, I visit the store everyday.

Ice-cream made with liquid nitrogen is the smoothest you’ll ever taste. At -196¬įC¬†, it freezes so fast that¬†there is no time for large ice crystals to form. Liquid nitrogen ice cream takes only 60 seconds to make while commercial ice cream¬†takes at least 10 minutes.

DSC_2460

 

 

 

 

 

Since liquid nitrogen is so cold, you can pretty much pick any flavour or use any ingredients you like. It will just freeze everything.

Lab Made offers new ice cream flavours each week. Check out the latest flavours:

DSC_2442

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the special¬†Flavour A¬†– ¬†black ice cream with the question mark?¬†Lab Made¬†is fundraising for a social enterprise called¬†Dialogue in the Dark.¬†According to the group’s description:

Dialogue in the Dark is a very successful social enterprise originated in 1988 in Germany by Andreas Heinecke, PhD. It harnesses the talents and skills of people who are visually impaired to inspire the physically capable.

Dialogue in the Dark¬†sparks thoughts that dissolve old mindsets, exposing you to new people and a new world. You begin to question your assumptions as you experience new limits. Meeting ambassadors of a little-known subculture initiates a dialogue, which endures beyond your time inside the exhibition.”

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the point is that the ice cream is black so you won’t know the flavour until you try it.

DSC_2444

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scoop on the top is taro flavour. The scoop at the bottom is blueberry.

DSC_2464

 

 

 

 

 

This one is Tong But Lut flavour, one of my favourite. Tong But Lut is a famous Chinese dessert made from peanut, coconut, sesame and glutinous rice.

Location: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

*Warning, please note that liquid nitrogen is very dangerous. Read about it here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19870668

I’ve heard along the grapevine¬†that if liquid nitrogen is poured on a person’s head, that person will be killed instantly as his/her brain will literally freeze. You gotta be worried for the workers in the ice cream shop since¬†none of them were wearing any protective gear!

Strawberry and Lemon Tart

20150205_093421

Strawberry and Lemon Tart

After a long hiatus of not feeling inspired about baking anything in particular, the Summer Cuisine Magazine caught my attention last month.

The section collected recipes from Australian chef Belinda Jeffery’s new book, Utterly Delicious Simple Food.

Simple – check. Summer fruits – check. Easy baking – check. “Go forth and bake!” I said to myself.

Recipe really is easy. Some tips / notes:

  • Recipe called for a pre-baked shortcrust pastry tart shell. You can either make it yourself (plenty of recipes online), or buy ready-to-roll. True to my current lazy self I went for the store-bought stuff. Still good, but my tart tin is 30cm and so I had to join 2 pieces of pastry dough together. I managed to do that but the dough had cracks over the pastry joints post blind-baking. Gotta figure that one out and if anyone knows a fix for that please leave a comment!
  • I think ceramic beans are probably still the best for blind-baking. Used rice and had bits of them stuck into the case – had the take them out post blind-bake.
  • In essence this is almost like a baked cheesecake. Admittedly because I had to change pan size and volume I might have overbaked and had cracks forming on the surface of the filling too. No need to worry though if that happens to you – it’ll all be covered up by those gorgeous strawberries.
  • Talking about hulling the strawberries – according to the internet, just use a drinking straw! Easy – just check out this youtube video: https://youtu.be/kA5QBiFpAoc

Three Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream

20140223_193728

 

For quite a long time I’ve resisted baking pies, mainly because I don’t particularly enjoy things like apple pies (i.e. using actual fruits in baking). Not sure what changed my mind, but I decided to give berries + pie a try, given that it’s summer over here in the Southern Hemisphere!

True to the reviews, the Three-Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream is very deliscious. The recipe seems fairly easy to do, with a few things to watch out for.

20140220_064613

  • The recipe calls for a pan that has 4 cups capacity. Measure your pan size and depth carefully to adjust your pie dough and fillings. In my case, I have a same size pan but deeper (6 cups) so I had to adjust both.
  • Try not to use frozen berries, but if you do – definitely defrost and drain the excess juice out. I tried making this pie twice. First time I did it with 70% fresh and 30% frozen (but defrost and drained) – the fillings came out beautifully. Second time I used the reverse and didn’t defrost. Fillings were VERY watery.
  • Put some cornstarch and sanding sugar at bottom of pie, before you put in the fillings.
  • I used Arrowroot instead of Quick-cooking tapioca (couldn’t find that at local supermarket)
  • Trim your pie dough around the edges well, so when the top crust meets the bottom it’s not too thick.
  • I think I prefer a thicker bottom pastry, so that when you line the pastry into the pan, it will not tear so easily around the pan edges.
  • Trim the pastry overhang ASAP. Excess will cause the pastry to start to rip around the pan edges. I’ve trimmed it and then make the overhang ‘stand vertical’ instead of still hanging over the pie pan. Put that into the fridge to chill while working on rolling out top crust.
  • Crimp the dough on the side however you like
  • Definitely use a baking tray or sheet below your pie pan, to catch those butter drips as the pie bakes
  • This pie is heavy – you might be tempted to rotate the pie to get it browning more even. I would say do so, but with caution (that’s how I lost 1/3 of my first pie!)
  • I would make the pie the day before serving – to let the fillings thicken even more

Charity Bake for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

A week ago, a friend suddenly contacted me to help donate some baked goods as part of her office’s Typhoon Haiyan Phillipines fundraiser. I like baking so naturally, it’s a yes!

Summer time is approaching in New Zealand so I’ve opted to bake things that are fruity and refreshing – something light, in other words. At the same time I’ve been consciously avoiding baking anything too complicated (aiming for simple and deliscious in the last 6 months)

Ta-da! So here we have some Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, and Coconut & Passionfruit Slices.

Coconut & Passionfruit Slices

Coconut & Passionfruit Slices

As you can see I’m hopeless at cutting anything straight, but the slices are very yummy.

I got the recipes here: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, Coconut Passionfruit Slices

They are both good recipes and I’ve only had to make minor adjustments.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

  • Make the Lemon Curd (the link can be found within the cupcake’s recipes) 1 day ahead. That means it’ll set properly and one less last-minute thing to do.
  • Recipe says it makes 24 but it’s probably closer to 16-18. I was using muffin paper and a muffin pan so that’s probably why.
  • Didn’t alter anything in the recipe, but definitely taste test everything, especially the Lemon Curd and the Cupcake batter to make sure you’re happy with how it taste. Adjust by using less lemon juice and then add more to get to your preferred taste.
  • I borrowed the kitchen torch from a friend of mine and just bought a can of butane gas to fill torch back up before returning. Good way to save money!
  • I had trouble with the piping (my own inexperience) – and I think I would have chosen a different tip instead. Might look nicer.

Coconut Passionfruit Slices

  • Receipe calls for a 16x26cm pan – I don’t have it, so I had to bump up the recipe by a factor of 2.5. If you’re going to do something similar, then slightly reduce the temperature and just keep an eye out when the baking time is reached and adjust the time accordingly. I used a pyrex dish by the way.
  • These slices are quite rich. They say use 100g caster sugar, I would say probably 50g is enough. Also cut those slices smaller – perhaps like little squares.
  • Up that butter to 120 to 125g.
  • Taste test the topping part before transferring to your baking dish. Adjust by adding more lemon juice, more passionfruit pulp, or condensed milk. Probably 80% of 1 can of condensed milk would be enough.

Key Lime Pie

20130919_100510

 

So I live in a place with no Key Limes, and I really don’t know what they tasted like. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to make it.

Key Lime Pies are so easy to make, and it’s delicious (apparently), so why not?

I did, and the pie disappeared within 30 minutes, devoured by my 10 colleagues. And man, it is yum.

 

I originally followed the Epicurious recipe, but with a 9.5 inch tart pan.¬†I got to the making the crust stage, even baked the crust. But since I was in a hurry and didn’t really do my math properly, the end result wasn’t great (it tasted great, just badly shaped) so I had to start all over again.

I also think that the amount of butter quoted in the recipe was nowhere near enough for you to get a nice crust dough to work with when shaping it into the pan.

So I opted to follow Cuisine magazine recipe instead for the crust, and I skipped the cinnamon. I wish though that they will provide a cup-ratio for the biscuit crumbs, so I could be a bit more accurate.

For the filling I followed the original Epicurious recipe.

 

20130918_234429a

 

Now, what do you do if you don’t have Key Limes readily available where you live?

I’ve done some online research – some people said to use just lime. Some people said to use 50% lemon juice and 50% lime juice. Some people were lucky enough to have key lime juice available for purchase (bottled) in the local store, others like me aren’t as lucky.

So I opted for the 50:50 lemon / lime juice option. I just bought the lime juice from the baking section in my local supermarket. (Because as luck would have it, they don’t have fresh lime at my local store – I swear I saw some last week!)

i would say, adjust the pie filling according to your taste, AFTER you have whisk the juice into the condensed milk / egg yolk mixture. I personally added a dash more lime juice so reduce the tangyness (a dash being something like 1 teaspoon).

 

All in all, very delicious. Would definitely make it again – a bigger one next time (with proper pie pan)!

Buttery Soft Pretzels

20130903-225957.jpg

 

In an effort to make myself have breakfast before hurrying out the door each morning, and to curb my desire for Auntie Anne’s pretzels that I always get when I visit the States each year, I decided to make pretzels.

They’re really easy to make, and cost very little. Perfect for me since I am trying to save money.

20130903-230400.jpg

I got the recipe here, but only made half the quantity, seeing as it’s my first time making this.

It really is soft and chewy, but still lacks that buttery taste.

20130903-230200.jpg

I was pretty stoked that the dough rose properly and doubled in size. Some notes regarding that:

  • I basically put the dough into a Pyrex bowl, cover with Gladwrap. Then put the bowl into the oven, setting to ‘bake’ at a very low temperature.
  • I read somewhere that the perfect temperature for rising a dough is 37 degrees (Celsius), so I set my oven to between ‘low’ and 50 degrees Celsius. Dough rose perfectly.
  • If you are making the quantity as stated in the recipe, then watch out with the pan or bowl that you use for rising the dough. Probably a 9″x13″ pan will be needed.

After reading all the reviews and having tried it, I will probably make some adjustment next time:

  • If you half the recipe, then I would recommend using only 2 cups of flour. If you’re following the quantity in the recipe, I.e. making 12 pretzels, then use only 4 cups of flour instead of 5. Some review even said to use 3 cups, and then have some flour on hand in case dough is too sticky.
  • Invest in a good, large, silicone pastry mat. Mine only goes up to 15″ but I have already used it countless times in my baking adventure. It could be slightly pricey but that investment is well worth it. Saves you from making a mess on your kitchen countertop and cleans up a lot easier.
  • Roll each of the dough portion into a rope of at least 22″ to 24″. This way when the dough expands while baking you won’t lose the pretzel shape.
  • Brush the pretzels with a little melted unsalted butter after they come out of the oven. This will probably give it the buttery taste which I found lacking from the recipe.
  • The recipe says grease the baking paper. Definitely spray it with oil.
  • Ease up on sprinkling coarse sea salt onto your pretzels.

Happy baking.