Crème Brûlée


Creme Brulee

I have absolutely no self control at a buffet, especially when I approach the dessert bar.  I believe most people cannot resist Creme Brulee  – it is rich and creamy which melts in your mouth with a little caramel crunch.  I bought a torch a year ago just to make this dessert.  I had tried caramelizing sugar by putting it under a broiler but the sugar melted the next day.  If you use the torch method, the caramelized sugar top will stay crunchy.

Ingredients:

2 Cups
5
½ Cup
1 Tablespoon
½ Cup
Heavy cream
Egg yolks
Granulated Sugar
Vanilla extract
Turbinado Sugar or Light brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 ◦F.
  2. In a mixer bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract together until well blended. Add heavy cream, mix well until it gets nice and creamy. Pour the mixture through the sifter into ramekins (those little ceramic dishes).  Place the ramekins in a baking pan.  Fill the baking pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes or so (each oven is different).  The custard should be trembling in the center..  Remove the ramekins from the baking pan, let them cool and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Sprinkle a thin layer of the turbinado sugar on the top of each. Make sure it completely covers the custard and it’s a thin layer.  Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top.  Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Creme Brulee

Rainbow Jello


Rainbow Jello

These rainbow jello cubes are one of our family’s favorite treats.  The process is pretty simple but it takes a couple of hours to assemble.  I had tried using different jello flavors and thought the grape flavor was way too strong and would ruin the whole combination.  So my suggestion is to stick with the basic flavors (strawberry, orange, lime, lemon or cherry).  You will be surprised how fast these cubes will be gone especially when you have kids at a party.

Ingredients:

1    3 oz. box strawberry Jello
1    3 oz. box lime Jello
1    3 oz. box orange Jello
1    3 oz. box lemon Jello
4    Envelopes unflavored gelatin
4    Cups water

Filling:

2    Cups water
3    Envelopes unflavored gelatin
1    Can Condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Dissolve 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin in a pot with 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and add one jello flavor.  Let cool.  Repeat this step for other 3 jello flavors.
  2. Mix and dissolve 3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin in another pot, bring to a boil and add condensed milk.  Stir occasionally until mixture is boiling.  Let cool.
  3. Place your Pyrex glass container (about 9″ x 13″) in the freezer, pour in first flavor of jello, let set until Jello is lightly set.
  4. Pour 2/3 cup filling over set Jello, let set about 5 minutes.  Repeat layers with other flavors Jello and filling.

Note:  Be sure jello and filling layers are cool before adding next layer.  You can test it by touching the Jello with your finger tip, if nothing sticks, it’s ready for the next layer.

Mini Fruit Tarts


mini fruit tarts

My favorite fruit tarts are from Porto’s Bakery in Glendale, Los Angeles.  I used to go there during my lunch time to pick up an 11″ fruit tart for my husband’s birthday.  With traffic, it sometimes took me more than an hour to go back to work.  Dealing with traffic and long queue, it was still worth my time until I spot a recipe online.  I made these bite-size fruit tarts when families gathered to celebrate mother’s day.   It was a big hit.   I highly recommend this recipe — easy and delicious!  Recipe adaped from “Salad in a Jar“.

Ingredients:

Tart Crust:

180g
50g
1/4 teaspoon
110g
1
All purpose flour
Superfine sugar
Salt
Butter (1 stick), chilled
Whole egg

Cream Filling:

1-3/8 cups
60g
15g
a tiny pinch
2
30g
1/2 teaspoon
Milk (could be a combination of milk and cream)
Sugar
Cornstarch
Salt
Egg yolks
Butter
Vanilla extract

Directions:

Crust:

  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in food processor.  Cut butter into small cubes and add to flour, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal.  Add whisked whole egg and pulse until all ingredients are moistened but not yet a solid ball.  Lightly press into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.  If dough in food processor seems too dry to press into a ball, add a teaspoon or two of milk.
  2. Pull off small amount of dough and press into molds with fingers being careful to keep thickness consistent. Use a knife to trim off any extra at the top.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place frozen tart shells on cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Watch carefully as the time can vary according to the thickness of the crust.

Fruit Tart Shells

Cream Filling:

  1. Add milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks, (in that order) to blender. Blend 5 seconds and pour into 2-quart glass microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 6 minutes on HIGH, whisking until smooth after 3 minutes, then every minute thereafter.
  2. Add butter and vanilla and whisk until smooth.   Remove from heat and let it cool.
  3. If you do not want to use a microwave, after blending everything, pour into a pot and cook over medium heat on the stovetop, bring to a boil until mixture starts to get thicker.  Add butter and vanilla and mix well.  Remove from heat and let it cool.

fruit tart filling

Assembly:

  1. Fill each baked tart shell with cream filling.  Top with fruits of your choice. Melt 1/4 cup currant jelly and use a brush to dab some shininess on each piece of fruit.

Notes:

Crust can be made ahead of time and put in an air tight container.  Assembling your fruit tarts a couple hours before the party.

Vanilla Waffle Cones/Bowls


Vanilla Waffle Cones/Bowls

After making some ice cream, I thought freshly baked waffle cones would go fabulously with it.  An ice cream cone maker will probaby be easier and save some time, but since I didn’t have one, I just baked the batter in the oven and shaped it with a bowl or a mug.   It can be rolled into the shape of a cone as well.  These waffle bowls/cones are so fresh and crispy, you will find it definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients:

2   large
1/8   teaspoon
120g
1/4   teaspoon
65g
40g
Egg whites
Salt
Granulated sugar
Vanilla extract
All-purpose flour
Unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form with an electric mixer, add salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form, scrape bowl. Gently fold in remaining sugar and vanilla extract, then fold in flour and butter until incorporated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use the back of a spoon to spread 2 tablespoons of the batter into a circle 5 inches across, you are likely to get 2-3 rounds on one standard baking sheet. Try to get the circles as even and smooth as possible.
  4. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, you will see the edges will become slightly brown.  Use a thin metal turner to flip the circles over and continue baking for another 5 minutes, the circles should be a deep golden brown throughout.  Continue with the rest of the batter.
  5. Remove baking sheet from the oven.  While the circles are still warm, place on top of a mug and use the bottom of a drinking glass to slightly press it down to shape a bowl.  Let it sit and remove when cooled enough to be firm.
  6. After these cones/bowls are completely cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container.

 

Dorayaki (Japanese Sweet Filled Pancakes) 叮噹餅


Dorayaki (Japanese adzuki beans pancakes)

Doraemon is a Japanese comic series and is the all time hit Japanese classic cartoon on TV.  It’s one of my fondest memories of my childhood.  If you also grew up reading it or watching it, you must know Doraemon’s favorite food is dorayaki.  These soft and fluffy dorayaki are traditionally stuffed with red bean paste, but you will find chocolate/cream/jam fillings nowadays.

Ingredients:

Bean Paste:

1 cup
¾ cup
¼ teaspoon
3 cups
Adzuki beans (red beans)
Light brown sugar
Salt
Water

Pancakes:

120g (1 cup)
95g
1  tablespoon
½ teaspoon
2
¼ – ½   cup
All purpose flour
Granulated sugar
Honey
Baking powder
Eggs
Water

Directions:

For the bean paste (makes 2 cups):

  1. Soak adzuki beans in water for 3 hours or overnight (some people said soaking helps minimizing gas as it helps to remove the indigestible complex sugars from the outer coating of the beans).  I do belive soaking will have a shorter cooking time.
  2. Heat adzuki beans in a pot with 3 cups of water. When they come to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the beans are soft.  If necessary, add water so that the beans are always covered.  Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.
  3. When the beans are soft enough to break between your fingers, drain them in a colander.
  4. Return the beans to the pot again and mix in the sugar.
  5. Mash the beans continuously over low heat until almost all the water has evaporated and a paste has formed.
  6. Add the salt and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes more.
  7. Remove from heat and let the paste cool.

For the pancakes:

  1. Whisk eggs with sugar and honey in a mixing bowl.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder and add sifted flour in the egg mixture gradually.
  3. Slowly add water while whisking until smooth (add water a little by little until the mixture is slightly runny).
  4. Drop small ladlesful on a lightly oiled fry pan to make pancakes that are about 3 inches in diameter. When bubbles start to appear, turn over the pancakes and cook briefly on the other side until brown.
  5. Spread about two tablespoons of adzuki bean paste on one pancake, then cover it with another to make a sandwich.  Slightly press the edges.

Note:

  • Put a few drops of cooking oil in a nonstick frying pan and use a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil (if there is too much oil, the pancakes will be crispy on the edge and color will not be even).
  • Make sure to cook the pancakes with medium low fire.  I used low fire and the pancakes were too dry, when I used high fire, the pancakes were burned.
  • You can boil beans in water for 3 minutes in a heavy pot, turn off fire, cover and let it sit for 2 hours.  At this point, beans are a lot softer, continue cooking and add sugar.

Homemade Strawberry Yogurt Ice Cream


Homemade Strawberry Yogurt Icecream

Adapted from Christine Ho’s blog.

The vanilla ice cream I made last time was very rich as it contained whipping cream.  This strawberry yogurt ice cream tastes more like sorbet and its ingredients are non-fat yogurt and fresh strawberries.  For people who have high cholesterol like me, this ice cream is relatively healthy and can satisfy my cravings.  Put a scoop of ice cream in a freshly baked waffle cup, it’s so delicious! Please refer to my post “Vanilla Waffle Cones/Bowls” for the recipe.

Ingredients:

450g  fresh strawberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar (less if berries are in season and ripe)
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Rinse strawberries and remove stems, slice strawberries and toss them with sugar and honey, let them macerate for one hour at room temperature.
  2. Puree berries and their liquid with Greek yogurt and lemon juice, with a blender.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note:  I do not have an ice cream maker, I put it in a Tupperware and placed it directly in the freezer.  Unless you plan to eat the ice cream soon after churning, they’re going to freeze pretty solidly.  You might want to take it out of the freezer to let it soften until it’s scoopable .

Egg Tarts (Mini Egg Custard Tarts)


egg tarts

When I lived in Hong Kong, these egg tarts were one of my favorites, they were my breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack.  You will find these tarts on the dim sum menu if you go to a Chinese dim sum restaurant.  Traditionally, the crust is made with lard (no kidding, you know how unhealthy it is!).  With the homemade egg tarts, lard can be substituted for butter.

Recipe was dapted from Christine Ho’s blog – Cantonese Egg Tarts recipe.  I slightly adjusted the sugar amount from the original recipe to suit my taste.

Ingredients of Crust:

225g
110g
40g
1
a dash
All purpose flour
Butter
Icing Sugar
Egg (whisked)
Vanilla Extract

Ingredients of Custard:

3
90g
225g
85g
½ tsp
Eggs
Caster Sugar
Hot water
Evaporated Milk
Vanilla Extract

Method (making crust):

  1. Place softened butter and sugar in mixer bowl, attach bowl and flat beater, turn to medium speed and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Add in whisked egg and vanilla extract, beat over low speed.
  3. Sift in flour in two batches, turn speed to “stir” to mix, scrape down the sides with a spatula, then sift in the remaining flour, turn speed to stir to mix well.
  4. Take out a piece of dough (size of a quarter) and put it in the middle of the tart tin.  Work from the center, push the dough outward with your thumb, trim away any excess dough.  Or you can roll out the dough and use cookie cutter to cut a circle.

Method (making custard):

  1. Add sugar into hot water (not boiling water), mix until completely dissolved.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix whisked egg and evaporated milk, pour in sugar water.
  3. Sift egg mixture with a strainer/sifter (do not skip this step as it will isolate stringy white pieces in egg white or foam).   Pour egg mixture into each tart shell.

Method (baking tarts):

  1. Preheat oven to 400 ◦F.  Position rack in lower third of oven. Bake tarts for 10 to 15 minutes until the edges are lightly brown.   Move the baking sheet to the second rack counting from the top.
  2. Reduce the heat to 350 ◦F, once the custard being puffed up a bit, pull the oven door open about 2 to 3 inches. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the custard is cooked through.  To check doneness of the custards, insert a toothpick into the center of the custard.  It’s cooked if the toothpick is clean.