Saturday, April 12, 2008

Strawberry Daifuku, the second challenge

There were a few things I learned from my first experiment making strawberry Daifuku.
First of all I had too much mochi and it got harder to form as it got colder. Besides that it was simply difficult to form and took too much time for each daifuku.

This is the modified version but it'll still need to be adjusted, so don't follow quite yet...
1 cup glutenous rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
-bean paste
1 can of white bean (Lazy me! Next time I should do this properly by cooking my own bean, preferably Azuki bean )
1/4 cup white sugar

8 strawberries

1. Canned bean has to go through a strainer. (this took some time)
2. In a pot, melt the sugar with some water at medium heat, adding the bean. Mix well.
3. Keep stirring until it reaches to the desired consistent (in this case, it could be quite dry)
4. Move to another container and place a plastic wrap to avoid drying the surface, wait to cool.
(540 ml can gave me about 1 1/2 cup of bean paste this time. I ended up using the half for 8 daifuku. The other half is in a freezer)

5. Wash and dry strawberries.
6. Make a ball with some cooled bean paste (about 1 Tbsp) and a strawberry.
7. Prepare Mochi.
8. Form each Daifuku.

----After thoughts: Over all it was good, but the skin tasted too thick. I ended up with 8 Daifuku but it could've been 10 instead. Mochi stayed warm until I finished forming, adding two more wouldn't be too much of a problem. The bean paste tasted alright, but it's not my favorite. I think I should just get some Azuki bean and prepare it by myself next time. Hopefully after the third try I will have a final recipe which is "perfect"...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Strawberry Daifuku with chestnut cream

I haven't made cupcakes lately...

Last month I had a dinner with some friends. One of them brought Strawberry Daifuku. She didn't make them but her Japanese friend did, who makes Japanese sweets for her friends as a small/private business. I don't know how much she paid for them but what a great idea. The strawberry daifuku was heavenly! It was tiny (two bites size) and delicate. It was very good. Since then I had the idea of making one by myself, but I was in Brazil for two weeks soon after that dinner, then I've been sick for a week since I came back from the trip, and finally I had some time to try.

For the filling, I was too lazy to make or even go to the China town to buy "anko" (sweet azuki bean paste). Instead I decided to use this half emptied jar of chestnut puree. White anko could taste like this when flavored, maybe? This was my impression when tasted it for the fist time. I love this cream but at the same time I don't know any better way to consume it very well. Sometimes I spread it on my toast, and the other week I used the half of jar to make a cheesecake which was very good. But I wish to know more recipes...

1 1/2 cup Glutenous rice flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup water
some potato starch

1 cup anko, red or white (for traditional style) but I used a sweetened chestnut puree (about 1/4 cup)
10 strawberries, washed and dried

Preparing Mochi (glutenous rice dough):
1. Mix rice flour, sugar and water in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, microwave for 4 minutes.
2. Take it out immediately (at this point, the middle is still liquid) then mix it well with a spoon until smooth.

3. Cover it again then microwave for another 2 minutes.
4. Mix the mochi well again. It is ready when it is slightly transparent-like color. Also taste a small piece. If it tastes "flour" or "powder-ish", it is not ready yet, try another 1 minute. (or repeat until it's ready)

5. Spread some potato starch on your hands and on a working table, then place the mochi. Roll it to form a log, then divide into 10. Sprinkle the starch whenever it is sticky.

Up to this stage, it didn't take much time, but then...

Forming Daifuku:
I find it was very hard to form a perfectly evenly round daifuku. I can't explain how to do it. There got to be some tricks. There are professional people who make their living doing this, so this probably requires some practice. There are many websites with the instruction so I will need to do some more study/practice.

Keep the strawberry daifuku refrigerated and consume within the same day, they don't keep well.

The next time when I make this, I think I will try to make my own anko or mix the chestnut puree with white anko. It is probably easier to fold if used rounder strawberries as well. The real strawberry season will come in a few months!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Vegan Smoothy Muffin-Strawberry Banana

A few days ago at a grocery store, there was 2 strawberry packages for $2 deal. I love strawberries. I know it is not the season but whenever I see those really cheap deals, I have to grab them and so I did. But then I forgot about them for a while in my fridge. I know I'm supposed to finish those liquidation stuffs within the same day or so. When I realized that I had them, I selected good ones for the Daifuku. Some were bruised, but still eatable.

I had one banana in my freezer. So I decided to bake some muffins. Not cupcakes? I know that making muffins is a bit more tricky but I can just mix everything with a single fork. I was too lazy to take out my electric beater...

Preheat the oven at 375 F degree. Place papers in a muffin tin. Makes 9 muffins.

Dry ingredients:
150 ml flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix, leave it aside.

Wet ingredients: Place the following in a measuring cup in this order,
50 ml oil (I use canola oil)
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 banana mashed
some strawberries mashed, make the whole thing reaching at 300 ml

2. Combine the wet to the dry, do not over-mix. (Over-mixing will create heavy, rubbery, hard and flat muffins that you will not love) Fill the muffin papers to 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until they are done.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies I want to try, and I did

I'm not a fan of Martha Stewart, but her new book on cookies is looking really good. The cookies are categorized by textures. I'm tempted to order from Amazon because it is only $15 rather than $27 at a bookshop.
Anyway, I was doing some random search on cookies then I came across with this recipe:

Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I did try the recipe, just now.
I came up with about 40 something cookies, each is about 2 inches diameter (much smaller than the recipe).
Just before putting the last tray in the oven (with nine cookies on), I realized that I might have been baking them too long (about 10 minutes in my oven), dahh, wake up, me! They are just slightly chewy but more crunchy side.

The cookies puff up at about 7 to 8 minutes, and then eventually spread to be flat (2 to 3 minutes) then turn to be golden brown throughout. I decided to take them out while they were still puffed up (at about 8 minutes), before they went flat. They first looked under-baked and super soft, but eventually they set. It is very chewy in the middle (somewhat creamy and condenced), crunchy outside.

I've eaten chocolate chip cookies like this before and I used to love it! (They came in a box and each was individually wrapped. A Japanese company made them-forgot the product name but probably made by a major sweets company)

So, 8 minutes in my oven, and they have to be taken out from the oven while puffed up. This is the way it's supposed to be. I feel like I wasted most of the cookie dough for over-baking :(
Anyway, it was very easy so I will make them again. I think it is a very good recipe, it uses a lot of sugar but relatively less butter, it is failure-free. The importance is to watch out for the baking time, I think.

Instruction copied from

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch chunks [I just used half a 12-oz bag of bittersweet Ghiardelli chocolate chips]

1) Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

3) Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

4) On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until they are just incorporated. If using a hand mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir them in. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

5) Preheat oven to 350. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Spoon the dough using a cookie scooper 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. (makes about 23 3-inch round cookies)

6) Bake for 11-13 minutes [it’s 13 in my oven] or until golden brown around the edges, turning the sheets front to back and switching racks halfway through.

Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment or Silpats directly onto a work surface. When cookies are set, remove them to a cooling rack. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Holy Fucking Shit, these are good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday Baking Summary

I had an urge to perfect my cookie baking skill over the holiday. I was specifically looking for a recipe for a super thin and crisp cookies that required no rolling dough. Simply due to my laziness, I hate cleaning mess on the table afterward, for that reason, I hardly make pies. Although I'm proud of my pie crust that is layered and flaky. Anyway, maybe someday I'll be making more pies.

So, I did some search on cookie recipes. I couldn't find exactly I was dreaming of.
Here are the cookies I made during the holiday (they are not all vegan, some could be vegan, I think):

1. Buckwheat butter cookies (modified, original recipe and the instruction found at

This cookie is super good. I baked twice in two weeks. The original recipe calls for "cocoa nib". I don't know where to get it. So I added some bitter sweet chocolate chips instead for the first time. It was still good but I found it too sweet. So the second round, I left out the chocolate, reduced the sugar, and increased the buckwheat ratio. The taste is more simple, but I like this way better. I'm thinking the next time I bake this, I can even reduce more sugar, probably to 1/3 cup sugar.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ lb. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes

2. Almond Blondie
I was feeling kind of scared how fast my sugar jar was going down because of all the cookies I have been making. The original recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, and I reduced to the half, which was a big mistake. I like the flavor of whatever it turned out, but to be honest, it is far from what blondie is supposed to be, in my opinion.

8 Tbsp Margarine, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup sliced almond
1 tsp almond extract

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes

3. Almond Lace Cookie (Oatflakes - "Havreflarn")

Now, this one was really fun to bake. I came across to this when I was looking for a thin crisp cookies that I can drop and bake.(no rolling) I followed the recipe carefully this time except that I didn't have "oat flake" so "rolled oats" was replaced, and that I only had a half cup of it, so the recipe was reduced to the half. When it is in the oven, it really spreads fast as it bubbles like crazy. I was glued to the oven, fun to watch. I like the texture and all but find it too sweet. It is almost like caramel. I wonder if there is any way to reduce sugar without affecting the end result...probably there isn't...

1/4 cup melted margarine
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 Tbsp of flour
1 tsp of baking powder

Bake at 350°F for 6 minutes

4. Swedish Lace Cookies (which I modified so much that it wasn't no longer what it was supposed to be)
But anyhow, I really liked the taste. The cardamon is the key, really a nice touch. I can't even remember how I modified, but I know that since I didn't have bran flakes, I just added 1 cup of flour instead, or something stupid. Oh, also added was 1/4 cup of sliced almond. The cookie turned out flat and a bit soft. I wanted to be flat and crisp...

The original recipe is at
1/2 cup margarine
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup bran flakes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5. Peanut butter cookies (I can not find any photo of it...)
The original recipe is at

This is a good recipe, very easy and quick. The cookies are light and very good, resulting eating too much of them.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick cooking oats

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Vegan Jasmine Tea Cupcake

I have eaten Jasmine flavored ice cream long time ago, and if I remember correctly the texture was between ice cream and sorbet. It was extremely delicious. I like jasmine tea served with DimSum, but at home when I make some for myself, I always add some a bit of vanilla added soy milk.

The cake turned out ok, but I'm not too crazy about it. I was expecting more intense Jasmine flavor.
The cake sticks to the paper and does not come out easily. Maybe the tea should be less than half a cup, it seems that it lacks in fat. Maybe more oil to add...The recipe needs a serious improvements!

Basic vanilla cake recipe, replacing only the liquid>3/4 cup strongly brewed tea + 1 Tbsp vinegar + milk makes 1 cup
Also added was 1 tsp Orange Blossom water, but the flavor seemed somewhat disappeared...

1 Tbsp strongly brewed tea
1 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp Almond milk (or other milk)
3 Tbsp Vegetarian Shortening
5 Tbsp Powdered sugar
2 tsp crushed Jasmine tea

Cook the first three ingredient over at low heat, constantly mixing. Eventually it becomes like custard cream. Remove from heat and wait to cool down a bit. Add the rest and with an electric mixer, beat until it is hard and creamy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vegan White Sesame and Rosewater Strawberry Cupcake with Strawberry Glaze

I love strawberry & rosewater combo. This time with some white sesame seeds to add some rich flavor, but to be honest I'm not sure if it really fits. I think this could go without it. Dried strawberries are added to the dough.

The glaze is made by:
1Tbsp margarine
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp rosewater
2 Tbsp of strawberry syrup (my friend gave me a jar of strawberry jam which was very watery, but delicious)

The pink glaze is girly, and tastes good...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vegan Black Sesame Cupcake with Vanilla Icing topped with White Chocolate

Very long title...

I made this when I had some friends over for dinner. A day earlier, I stopped for a church bazzar in my neighborhood. This two layered plate thing (thought it was perfect for English afternoon tea themed party) for $2! Wow, cheap. I brought it home and my boyfriend told me this was for a religious that so? in anyhow, the cakes looked very cute.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Vegan Lemon Cupcake with Lemon Tarragon Icing

Tarragon?! It does go well with lemon! Delicious.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vegan Gluten-Free Chinese Five Spice Cupcake with Crystal Ginger Frosting

This is my first attempt baking gluten-free cupcakes. The dough turned out to be a little thick, but the cake came out of the oven beautifully. The only thing I'm concerned; the unsmooth top! I wonder, should the liquid need to be more, or is it because of the buckwheat flour again? I have baked gluten-free cakes (without buckwheat flour) before and the dough was usually more watery. I will have to readjust this for the future, but anyway, the cake is fluffy and moist, with a little chewy feeling. It is not very sweet and so the sugar could be 1/2 cup or more, instead of 1/3 cup.

*The sponge became much harder the next day. So, this is something to be adjusted for the next time, I don't know how yet...

Cupcake (makes 12):
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp Arrowroot flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup coco
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1/3 cup sugar
100 ml olive oil (a little less than 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1Tbsp vinegar + rice milk = 1 1/4 cup

preheat the oven at 350 degree.
Place papers.
1. Mix vinegar and milk, leave it aside.
2. Measure all the dry ingredients, mix well, leave it aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and vanilla. Beat well with an electric mixer.
4. Slowly introduce the milk mixture into "3". This will be very watery, but keep beating.
5. Add the flour mixture at once, beat well. There is no gluten so no worry for over-beating. The batter will be smooth.
6. Divide the batter into 12, filling about 2/3 each cup. Bake for about 20 minutes.
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp shortening-room temperature
2 Tbsp margarine-room temperature
roughly 6 crystal ginger (leave 2 for the topping-each cut in 6)
a few drops vanilla essence
1 to 2 Tbsp milk

1. Mix shortening and margarine with a fork, add the powdered sugar.
2. Add vanilla. Mix well while introducing a little bit of milk at a time.
3. When it reaches at a nice creamy texture, mix in the chopped crystal ginger.
4. Decorate the cakes when cooled.