These shortbread cookies are buttery and sweet balanced by the tartness of raspberry jam. Thumbprints were actually not my original plan. It was supposed to be these stamped Almond Shortbread Cookies but a series of unfortunate events happened: the cookie dough was way too soft, the stamped letters on the cookies couldn’t be made out after baking and I was running out of time. I sat there staring at my dough for a while in frustration and thinking hard how I could make something nice out of it. That’s when I thought of thumbprint cookies and can I say, I’m definitely making these again! These are easy peasy, doesn’t take much time and the buttery, sweet and tart flavours come together nicely. The cookies were gone in two days.
(Adapted from the Stamped Almond Shortbread Cookies by Bake at 350.)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (227g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I used normal salt)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract (I bought mine at Cold Storage)
- 2 & 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- Raspberry jam (or any other jam or spreads you like)
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, salt and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the almond extract.
- On low speed, add in the flour, mixing until combined.
- Roll the dough into 1.5-inch balls.
- Using your thumb, press down into the center of each dough. The dough may crack at the edges. You can try smoothing the cracks with your finger, but I think the cracks add character 😉
- Spoon some raspberry jam into the little indent of each cookie. Be careful not to spoon too much as the jam will spread a little when baking. Also, my jam contained real fruit bits and I had no problems with that. Feel free to fill the cookies with any other spreads you like. (I tried filling some of the cookies with kaya, a coconut pandan spread, but I didn’t fancy them very much.)
- Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- This recipe makes an estimate of about 40-45 thumbprint cookies, or possibly more. (It’s an estimate because the other portion of the dough went to the stamped cookies but those didn’t work out too well. Please let me know how many this churns out if you make them!)
Two of the few stamped cookies that came out well! Have a joyful weekend 🙂
This is the perfect substitute for Royce’s Nama Chocolate. We made this last weekend using the recipe from Just One Cookbook and have been been indulging in these little squares after family dinners. We had them with red wine and it was a heady mix of dark, smooth, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate with a deep bold red.
This just needs three simple ingredients and if you like yours alcoholic, that makes four. We added a tablespoon of aged brandy from my Dad’s collection and it was so good. I kid you not, you need to make this. Next time I’m craving Royce, I’m going to make another batch. This makes about 36 squares with a height of about 3/4 inch with a 7.5 inch by 7.5 inch square pan. The recipe is below coupled with my notes. You’re going to love this!
I like simple recipes and this is one of them. Fast, easy and tastes good. It’s great when you don’t have much time and you need to scramble to get something pretty on the table. I was a bit unsure of this No-Bake Cheesecake by Martha Stewart at first; some reviews said the cheese mixture did not set but mine was a success! Hurrah. In fact, my cheese mixture hardened in room temperature when I got distracted and left my mixer standing in the kitchen.. If that happens, just beat the mixture again and it’ll become soft and spreadable.
The recipe below is adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe. I estimated my own digestive biscuit base because the original recipe of 20 sheets of graham crackers is vague. This yields about 15-18 baby cheese tarts (estimate). You can vary the size of the tarts based on the pans you have, and you can top the tarts with fruits, chocolate, jam etc.. go wild! There is no hard and fast rule.
Put digestive biscuits in a large resealable plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin until very fine crumbs form (Note: you can also crush the biscuits using a K-beater but be sure to cover the top with a cloth because the crumbs will fly. Crush them really fine so that the crust will hold firm. Mine was not fine enough so it was a bit crumbly!)
Pour crumbs into a medium bowl, add butter, and stir until well combined.
Press the crumb mixture into a mini muffin pan and press flat. Chill crust in freezer at least 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Using an electric mixer set at medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the condensed milk a little at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.
- Take the muffin pan out of the freezer and with a fork, gently lift the biscuit cases out of the pan and onto a plate.
Pour the filling into the crust and top it off with fruits, chocolate or anything you like! Refrigerate until firm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Make sure your digestive biscuits are crushed finely so it will hold together. You can make these tarts in any size!
I also made a bigger 4.5 inch tart with the leftover digestive base and cheese filling. Topped this one off with strawberries and drizzled it with a local mango jam my mom got from GSH Converves.
Over the four day long weekend, we had breakfast together as a family. T finally made the granola he’s been wanting to try out, my brothers and I made pancakes and my mom whipped up hot chocolate. My dad? He contributed by eating! It was one of those sleepy beautiful mornings that lit up as we crowded the kitchen in our pyjamas and filled it with banter and laughter.
This granola recipe is really easy, and makes a good base for adding in anything you like: chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, coconut. Definitely going to think twice before buying granola off the rack next time.
- 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used plain salt)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds
Instructions (step by step pictures below):
- Heat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.
- Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 5 to 15 minutes more. (Note: Feel free to increase the baking time based on how toasted you like your granola to be.)
- Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.)
- Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine. (Note: we added pumpkin seeds and dried fruits which we had in the kitchen, toss in anything you like, even chocolate chips!)
- Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
You know what I think of when I see churros? Theme parks! When I was very young, my family went to the US and we had the best time in Disneyland. Apart from ice cream and cheese cakes, I don’t remember much of the other food in Disneyland except churros. Yummy, delicious and crisp hot churros coated in cinnamon and sugar. Who can resist cinnamon and sugar?!
The only thing that gets me about them is the deep frying. That is, until I realised they could be baked with this recipe. This is the best way to eat them because it’s healthy but still tastes good. The only downside is that they get soft after a few hours but then again, deep fried churros end up the same. If that happens, just zap them in the oven for a while and they’ll be crisp again.
Also, this hot chocolate is divine. I don’t think you can call it hot chocolate, which was what the recipe termed it. It’s definitely a dip because it’s incredibly rich and lovely but cannot be drunk (for me, anyway.. ).
- 1 cup (225g) water
- ½ cup (113g) butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (143g) plain flour/ all purpose flour
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cups (4oz/113g) sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Place two baking sheets on top of each other to bake the churros. This protects your delicate pastry. Line parchment paper; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, add water, brown sugar, salt and butter. Place over medium-high heat. Heat until butter is melted and mixture starts to simmer. As soon as it is simmering, whisk in the flour. Whisk until there are no flour lumps and a dough ball has formed.
- Now, using a wooden spoon you want to stir the dough around you pot and cook it for about a minute over LOW heat. The mixture will clump and pull away from the sides of the pan. Just do it for a minute, then take it off the heat and set aside.
- In a jug, combine eggs and vanilla and whisk together.
- Using your wooden spoon add incorporate a little of your egg mix into your dough. Stir and mash, breaking up the dough until loosened. Stir well until eggs are incorporated and mixture has the appearance of mashed potatoes.
- Continue adding your eggs until combined
- Transfer your dough to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. (Note: use a giant star nozzle, at least 1M. A small nozzle pipes small churros and they get burnt in the oven quickly.)
- Pipe dough into long churros on the parchment-covered pans. Make sure to pipe them nice and thick. Do this by putting pressure on the bag and piping slowly.
- Leave about 2 inches of space between the churros (Note: my churros didn’t expand at all, in fact I think they became smaller)
- Bake for around 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Then turn off the oven and leave them in there for 10 minutes to dry a little. This step helps them keep their shape and not go flat once they cool.
- Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt in a ziplock bag.
- Take the churros straight from the oven and roll them in the mixture until well covered. It is best to do this when the churros are warm and fresh from the oven.
- Enjoy your homemade churros with decadent and thick hot chocolate (recipe below)
- 6 oz (1 cup/180g) bittersweet chocolate (at least 58% cacao), chopped
- 2 ½ cups (20oz/570ml) milk
- ½ tsp cornstarch/ cornflour (to be mixed with a 2 tsp of water)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- In a large heavy saucepan heat the milk until to a simmer.
- Combine chocolate, Heat the chocolate over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the chocolate is melted.
- Whisk the cornstarch mixed with water (aka slurry) into the chocolate.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until chocolate mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat and cook for 2 minutes, whisking, until thick.
- Remove chocolate from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Serve in large cups with churros.
Had a very dreamy Sunday afternoon making these apple pies for my Daddy’s birthday. I remember making apple crumble last year for my parents’ anniversary but it wasn’t that great. This year, I googled and came upon this recipe from Food Network. In comparison to the other recipes, this one involved the most work for the cooking of the apples. Most recipes state to put the apples in the pie together with the sugar and bake it straight but the Food Network recipe called for the apples and apple sugar sauce to be cooked and thickened prior to baking it in the pie. I have to confess the shortcrust pastry was store-bought because that was a crazy weekend and I didn’t have time. So to make up for it, I decided to put more effort into the apple cooking and I’m glad I did because the apples came out nice and gooey.
The lattice weave looks complicated but it’s actually not, and it’s very simple. Once you get the hang of the first weave, the rest is really easy. I used a shallow 8-inch pie pan and ended up having double the filling required which resulted in two pies. After rummaging through the cupboards, I found some cookie cutters and decided on an apples and leaves design for the second pie. It was so much fun and so therapeutic! Recipes and step-by-step pictures below. It was slow taking pictures one by one but visuals references really help me when baking and I hope it helps you too 🙂
Pastry: Store-bought or you can try making it from scratch with Food Network’s recipe Apple Filling (from Food Network):
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 pounds (1.3kg) baking apples like Golden Delicious, Cortland, or Mutsu (I bought a mixture of green and red apples)
- 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Generous pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking Directions (see step-by-step pictures below):
- Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and toss to combine evenly. (Note: the apple cutter I bought from IKEA is amazing! Saves the agony of cutting the apples.)
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.
- Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to get as much liquid as possible. Return the juices to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. (Note: it took me more than half an hour for the sauce to thicken from the watery juices to the consistency in the 5th picture below)
- In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the reduced juice and spices. Set aside to cool completely. (This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)
Lattice Pie Directions (my own, see step-by-step pictures below):
- Roll the dough out with even thickness between two boards (mine is store-bought and that’s why it looks so perfect. Don’t fret – you can roll it out into a circle too, as long as the width is longer than your pie pan’s width so your strips can fit across)
- Use a ruler to measure across the dough and make marks 1.5cm apart from each other using a knife. Do this twice, one marking above and one marking below so that two two points help you align your ruler when cutting, and ensure you don’t go out of line.
- You should get nice horizontal strips like picture 3 below. The thickness of the strips is up to your preference. More strips will mean more weaves and vice versa. It depends on the look you’re going for!
- Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough
- Fill the pie with the apples evenly
- Trim the extra dough hanging over the sides it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan
- Lay the strips of dough horizontally across the pie, ensuring it’s equal width apart
- Pull strips 1, 3 and 5 (odd-numbered strips) to the left
- Place a strip vertically across the pie and pull strips 1, 3, 5 and 7 (odd-numbered strips) back to the right
- Pull strips 2, 4, 6 and 8 (even-numbered strips) to the left
- Place a strip vertically across the pie and pull strips 2, 4 and 6 (even-numbered strips) back to the right
- Repeat steps 8-11 on the right and do the same for the left till the entire weave is complete.
- Trim the strips that is hanging over the sides of the pan so that so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan
- Roll the sides up and crimp/flute it at the top so that it seals the pie
- Glaze the dough with egg wash and sprinkle sugar over the top
- Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes
(Scroll to the bottom for Baking Directions) Apples and Leaves Directions (my own, see step-by-step pictures below):
- Cut a rough disk the size of your pie pan. This will form the disk for the top of your pie
- Using an apple cookie cutter, cut out apples from the round disk
- If you have a leaf cookie cutter, cut out leaves from the remaining dough. If you don’t have one (like me), see what you can find in your cupboard and improvise! I used a tear drop shaped cookie cutter and cut out about 20 tear drops
- With the tear drop, pull the rounded edge out gently to the right, shaping it so that it’s a curved V
- Using a knife, gently carve out the veins on the leaves
- See the difference in the picture below: the tear drop transforms to a leaf after pulling the top and carving the veins
- Fill the pie with your apple filling evenly
- Place the round disk with the apple design over the pie
- Fold up the sides and crimp/flute it and seal it into the pie
- Place the leaves in a circle around the pie and press it down so that it sticks to the pie
(Scroll to the bottom for Baking Directions)
- Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. (I used an 8-inch shallow pie and 50 minutes was WAY too long. The crust came out very hard so my advice is to bake it for 20 minutes and increase the timing if required as you go along.)
- Cool on a rack before serving.
- The pie keeps well at room temperature (covered) for 24 hours, or refrigerated for up to 4 days.
If you made it this far, congrats! Let me know what pie designs you come up with 🙂
(Photos from the top: 8 inch tarts for the first two photos, a slice from a 4.5 inch tart for the third photo)
The last two months have been crazy. We spent two and a half glorious weeks in Japan (pictures here). A week after we came home, I fell sick for more than ten days. It was a very, very trying period with some medical scares but I’m finally well and it’s never felt better to be back in the kitchen.
You know those Tastemade videos that have been making its rounds on Facebook? T and I decided to try one of the recipes that caught our eye and we’re happy to report that it’s a success! This No Bake Strawberry Chocolate Tart (which Tastemade shared via Home Cooking Adventure) is very easy and I’m actually pleased that no baking was involved for a change.
There are only 6 simple ingredients and the steps are easy.
- 330g Oreos
- 1 box of Fresh Strawberries, Almonds (or any toppings you like)
- 110g butter, melted (I used unsalted butter)
- 200g Milk Chocolate (I used 150g Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate instead)
- 100g Bittersweet Chocolate (I used 150g Hersheys Cocoa 100% natural unsweetened instead)
- 200ml Heavy Cream (I used thickened cream as a substitute)
Note: I doubled the recipe while making these tarts and in total, the recipe yielded three 8 inch round crusts and two 4.5 inch round crusts BUT the filling left one 8 inch round crust completely unfilled. So if you’re making this and using the same size pans, you might want to cut down on the Oreos or increase your chocolate filling.
Directions (you can watch the video or follow the steps I listed):
- Blitz the Oreos in a food processor (as shown in the video) OR crush it in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin and get it finely crushed by beating it with a K-beater in your mixer thereafter (I did the latter as I didn’t have a food processor). Add the melted butter and combine it with the crushed Oreos.
Note: Be careful with using the K-beater and don’t over-beat your Oreos. Also, if you’re wondering (like I did), you use the WHOLE Oreo including the cream.
- Press the crushed oreos into a tart pan with the back of a spoon. I found it easier to use my fingers to press down the sides of the top. The recipe calls for a 5×14 inch tart pan. I didn’t have this so the same amount filled two 8 inch round tart pans. Freeze the crust while preparing the filling.
- Heat the cream over medium-low heat for a few minutes (don’t boil or simmer). Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate and let the mixture rest for 1-2 minutes. Stir the cream and chopped chocolate until it dissolves.
- Pour the melted cream and chocolate over the Oreo crust and top with fresh strawberries and almonds (or any other toppings you like).
Tip: If you are not serving this on the same or next day, put off placing the strawberries on top first as the water tends to seep out of the strawberries onto the tart if left on for too long. Take note that if you put the strawberries later, the chocolate would have hardened and your strawberries cannot be pushed into the chocolate (like you see in the video) but it’s not crucial. I would rather have my strawberries resting on the surface than have a watery tart!
- Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before serving.
(Last photo: 4.5 inch tarts)
Have you had a recipe that calls for buttermilk and not know what to do with the leftovers? Happens to me every time I make a chocolate cake; it calls for just 5 tablespoons of buttermilk which leaves me with the rest of the carton. What do I do with the rest?! When that happens, or actually whenever I’m craving it, I make Buttermilk Pound Cake. This pound cake is as soft as a pillow. I’ve made it with lemon glaze but it’s also perfect on its own. My parents smelled this baking as they were coming home and my Mom came right in, got a knife and finished half of the big loaf between herself and my Dad. 🙂
(If you’re wondering what that bowl of brown liquid is, it’s earl grey lavender tea glaze. It was a nice idea but it required too much icing sugar to make into a glaze and was too sweet so it didn’t go on the rest of the cakes.)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter
- 3 cups white sugar (as always, I reduced this to 2.5 cups of sugar)
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract (If you don’t have lemon extract, you can use fresh lemon juice like I did)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
Note: This recipe makes about two and a half 9″ loaves.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease one 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon and the vanilla extracts. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan. (Do not knock the pan to make the batter sink down or deflate the batter!! I did that once and it gave me a dense and harder cake instead of a fluffy one – not nice at all.)
- Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Do not open oven door until after one hour. When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
I took step-by-step pictures this time hurrah!
Last week, my friend in New York sent me a picture of a Levain chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was completely black and it looked all soft, gooey and rich with melted chocolate chips oozing out. I wanted that cookie! But well, I wasn’t sure I was ready to ask my friend to fly a chocolate cookie halfway across the world.
So I googled for a recipe. I wanted a cookie that was totally dark and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Not gooey and crazy chocolatey like the Levain one but rich and dark enough. It also needed crunch so that I can dunk it into milk because what’s a cookie without milk?!
After being completely picky, I decided to try the Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies by Nigella Lawson and I really like them! They satisfied all of the above. Gorgeously dark, not too sweet and completely worthy of a milk dunk.
So without further ado, I present to you the recipe below. As with all recipes, I reduced the sugar. Although the recipe states it yields 12 cookies, I made 27 cookies using an ice-cream scoop which came out baked to a circle of about 3 inches.
You can also alter this recipe however you like! The first batch of cookies I made got wiped out over the weekend so I made another batch today, half with chocolate chips and half with peanut butter chips. The dark chocolate and salty peanut butter is a great combination. I made this batch into smaller circles using slightly more than one tablespoon of batter per cookie. This yields 42 cookies measuring about 2 inches each.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Melt the 125g / 4oz dark chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water.
- Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
- Cream the butter and sugars in another bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix together.
- Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate morsels or chips.
- Scoop out 12 equal-sized mounds – an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job – and place on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them. (I flattened and shaped them into circles and they came out fine. I prefer flattening them as opposed to having them come out dome shaped.)
- Cook for 18 minutes, testing with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
- Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.