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.