chocolate Tag

WEDNESDAY’S THROW-IT-TOGETHER TEXAS SHEET CAKE

I didn’t intend to sneak a cake recipe in between my travel-inspired posts, but this is the easiest-yet-delicious cake recipe I have yet to encounter, and I think you should do it.

Look, I’m not exactly a practician of 30-minute meals.  I don’t mind getting down and dirty with a recipe for the better part of my day and get disgustingly anal with minor details.  But for those who knows me, knows that when it comes to dessert-baking, specifically cakes and such, I then become what Nat Geo would call, a cake-sloth.  If the recipe, even at a glance, contains any mentioning of words like “softened/room-temperature butter (subtext: have my cake and eat it tomorrow)”, or “creaming (scrape till my ass split)”, or “sift (is Santa coming or I’m covered in blow!)”, or “beat eggs one at a time (zzzz… I’m sorry wah?)”…, I just turn around and start another 10-hours operation on my next ramen project.  The double standard is weird, I know, even to myself.  But for the entire lifespan of this blog, I’ve been maximizing all efforts on savoury recipes while, in contrast, cheating my way through various pastries such as this skillet cookie,  this dumpling wrapper cannoli, and even a no-churn mascarpone soft-serve (and even the more complicated stuff involved cheating).  Then, just a few days ago, this sloth has found a new tree.

Following the Monday-blue oatmeal cookie, here’s the Wednesday’s Throw-it-together Texas chocolate sheet cake.

How is it that this cake-sloth hadn’t heard of this fabulous food-source until now?  Because as far as the internet is concerned, the typical recipe for a Texas chocolate sheet cake, as I later found out, is no news.  There’s quite a lot of’em out there.  But when I saw it for the first time on Martha Stewart’s Living last week, it felt as if a whole new natural habitat was uncovered.  Since I have reasonable doubts that there are fellow cake-sloths out there being left out of the party, I thought, it can’t hurt to mention it again.

First of all, not only that there was no screaming creaming, sifting, waiting or any electricity-powered mixer involved, but better yet, the process was so crude and rough that it practically felt mannerless.  Sloth-like.

Basically, you boil everything in one big pot then you stir in the rest and bake.  Done.

The entire recipe was so easy that I, even I, felt the insecure urge to add a little something more like, for example, browning the butter instead of melting, and replacing water with strong brewed coffee, and substituting cocoa icing with ganache (which is just a fancy word for stirring chocolates in hot cream) for extra richness.  And as I stood there as a naturally suspicious species, wondering how on earth could a “pre-cooked” batter ever turn into an edible cake, a mere 22 mins of baking later, I was blown away again.

The cake rose beautifully, and was moist… soft… and dense with rich crumbs.  The entire project, including the chocolate ganache that lubricated through the already-moist crumbs, could be done in under 1 hour from start to finish.  You can literally bake this cake from the time your friend calls to say he/she’s putting on a pair of pants to head over your way, and have it ready before the door bell rings (ok, if you didn’t include the time it takes for the cake to cool but really, who does that?).

So yes, if you were like me, who needs something sweet to munch on in between the hours she spend on beating a roast duck into a pot of milky broth… this delicious cake is gonna save you some time.

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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

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YES, CHURRO WAFFLES

Gotta run today!  Leaving you quickly with yet another inbred waffle abomination.  Churros + waffles = churroffles.  Yes, apparently, churro waffles, too.  A clear proof that I spotted on Instagram, from Monochrome Bistro in Singapore, where they serve it with what looks like a huge scoop of cookies’n cream ice cream.  But you know, call me romantic.  I’d like to think that even after being barbarically deformed in between the burning metal teeth of a waffle griddle, that even when its own mother couldn’t recognise him anymore, that even when his previously tall and slender physique now seem like the mirage from another life… that deep down, churro still wants chocolate.  And chocolate still wants churro too, stubby and crooked as he is.  It’s true love.

So here it is.  Churroffles tumbled in light brown sugar spiced with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then go on to hug his soulmate, deep dark chocolate ice cream in a summer reunion.  Love is in the air.  Can you feel it?

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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

Yield: 4 small sandwiches

The churro dough is adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

    CHURRO DOUGH:
  • 1 cup (235 grams) water
  • 5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp (45 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • SPICED SUGAR:
  • 1/4 cup (44 grams) light brown sugar, or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • TO FINISH:
  • 1~2 tbsp melted unsalted butter for brushing
  • Good chocolate ice cream

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Split 1/3 of vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and pods into a pot, along with water, unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean pods and discard, then add the all-purpose flour all at once. Keep on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture has come into a thick paste/dough. Keep cooking and stirring for another min, until a thin film of dough starts to form on the sides and bottom of the pot. Now turn off the heat and continue to stir for another 30 sec to release excess moisture/steam. Set aside for at least 5 min until cool (so it doesn't cook the egg, or activate the baking soda prematurely before cooking).
  2. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients under "SPICED SUGAR" until even, and set aside. Preheat your Belgian-style waffle griddle on medium-high heat according to instructions. Now, beat the egg into the cooled dough with a whisk until very smooth (or with a handheld mixer with whisk attachment), then sprinkle the baking soda on top, and whisk again until even. Add about 2 tbsp of dough in the centre of the griddle, close the lid, and cook for 6~7 min until browned and crispy. The churroffles take slightly longer than other types of waffles, so if you don't mind them not being "round-ish", you can cook 2 at once on each side of the griddle (this dough won't expand much during cooking). Repeat until you're done with all the doughs, which should give you about 8 small churroffles.
  3. Let the churroffles cool on a cooling rack for 5~8 min, then brush very thinly with a bit of melted butter, then drench in the spiced sugar (spoon the sugar over the top so it gets into the folds). IT'S IMPORTANT to let them cool for at least 10~15 min before eating. The centre of the churroffles will appear gummy while hot, then once they cool down, will become light and airy. Sandwich a big scoop of good chocolate ice cream in between and dig in.

Notes

Because of the cooking method, the extra baking soda will help lift the dough and give the churroffles more air-bubbles in the centre.

https://ladyandpups.com/2015/07/08/churroffle-and-chocolate-ice-cream-sandwich/
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MOLTEN TRUFFLES MOCHIFFLES

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THE UGLIER IT APPEARS, THE BETTER THAT SON OF A MOCHI  TASTES.

I want you to do something for me, okay?  I want you to just… blindfold your judgement towards the bizarre appearances you’re fixated at, and forget the unfamiliarly gooey bias you have towards this thingy called mochi, and just… just do what you need to do, to head into the kitchen at your next convenience, and make these.  Okay?  I know, I know, I don’t wanna hear that I’m-not-a-mochi-person kind of self-doubt, okay, at least not in this particular case here.  Because listen, this is not tough, okay, and yes, it is chewy, but in the softest and supplest sense of a perfect liège waffle or a toasted warm brioche, okay?  It will be a game-changing, crispy-edged and bouncy-hearted hybrid between waffle and mochi that, oh man… so-carefully houses the scattered and irregular morsels of – you following? – molten chocolate truffles.  Yes.  Yes.  Oh god… the molten chocolate truffles… they melt, oh yes, and they become chocolate caramels, and then they hardenOkay?  Not loose like a fudge or blunt like chocolate chips, but what their low melting-point are creating here, so epically, are the eroded nooks and crannies of a candied porous surface, the volcanic rock-formations that embodies crème brûlée-like edges with sticky and thinly fudge-painted interior, okay?  What you’ll witness here, is the gloriously delicious aftermath in the death of chocolate truffles post-high heat, then the rebirth from caramel into candy, then encased inside a crispy and chewy waffled mochi called mochiffles!  Does that compute for you?!  Gah.. I mean… you know… just proma… promise that you’ll make them, okay?  I know sticky rice flour, probably not your forte, but just, just promise me that much, please, just let me have the comfort of knowing that when I’m gone from this post, into this world filled with darkness and injustice, that my dear friend you… will at the very least, have this.  Okay?  Yes?

  

Vibrant yellow bowl is from Dishes Only.

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CHOCO-COLATE MUFFIN TOPS

MOISTER THAN A COOKIE, CRISPIER THAN A MUFFIN, LARGER THAN THE FACE OF CHESHIRE CAT AND GOES DOWN FASTER THAN THE LONGEST SLEEP I’VE RECENTLY ENJOYED

OK… I who haven’t had more than 4 hours of continuous sleep for the past few weeks, am talking to you in between my loose grip of consciousness, and my looser grip of consciousness, and then… oh look! it’s my unicorn-pony who helps with my dishes~    Uh whadat?  Oh yeah.  I was saying, how about, we take these double chocolate-y muffin tops, yes, just the tops because I couldn’t even trust my hands-and-eyes coordination to drop the batter into the molds (but it’s really because I was never fond of the bottom half of a muffin so I thought why bother), and slip into The Lady’s Wonderland to catch up?  These muffin tops are warm and melty, moister than a cookie, crispier than a muffin, larger than the face of Cheshire Cat, and goes faster than the longest sleep I’ve recently enjoyed.

So come, we could all use a fall down a tree-hole once in awhile.  Tell me about that time when you showed up in school without pants and your braises fell off.

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LIDDED OATMEAL W/ CHOCOLATE GINGER SHORTBREAD

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18 INNOCENT YEARS OF UNSUSPECTEDLY CONSUMING THE SAME WEIRDNESS, CAN GROW INTO POWERFUL, LIFELONG BRAINWASHER

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WE are all cursed with weird, nonsensical foods that we’re obsessed with eating, for absolutely no other explanations but the mere fact that… we ate them growing up.  They were often times the legacy of our great mothers who one day, out of desperation, whipped it out of a dirty kitchen sink and thought she shall repeat, for however long until the day we broke free for college.  Beware, that on top of the obliviousness that such “foods” were not nearly considered legit one step out the front-doors, 18 innocent years of unsuspectedly consuming the same weirdness, can grow into a powerful, lifelong brainwasher.  Mommy-to-be should take note.

I have, about a mile-long-list of such things.  A list that should worth a new segment called, The Stuff I Eat When I’m By Myself (stay tuned).  And rest assured, it ain’t pretty.  But Jason, on the other hand, has but one, one single childhood nonsensical food-fetish that has long menaced his reasonable adult-life.  And that is, a congealed tub of dead-cold… stiffened cadaver of something, that once in its previous life, was perhaps a barely sweet, borderline-edible plain oatmeal.  Yes, laid bare… it’s gotta be cold.  It’s gotta be stiff.  It’s gotta… make no fucking sense.  Yuuum?… well to him it certainly is.  He could eat a whole tub of that shit…

So by my manipulative caring nature, I thought, for the second instalment of the shortbread-marathon I’m preparing for Food52, that this presents a perfect opportunity to redirect his relationship with dead oatmeals, into a more… socially acceptable scenario.  But first, speaking of shortbread cookie-doughs, I should point out how utterly amazed I was at how straightforward, fuss-free, versatile and most of all, failsafe they are – and for the same exact reasons, under-appreciated.  No confusing science behind baking powder/soda, nor is there any factors left to chances, I mean there’s none but one rule, just one simple rule to ensure you that at the end of a short amount of time, something crumbly and exceedingly buttery shall parade triumphantly out of your oven.  The rule being, a stern ratio between 2 parts solid fat (often butter) and 3 parts dry ingredients (could be a combination of various flours), by weight.  READ MORE

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sea salt buttercream on a chocolate cupcake

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CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE, HARDLY ANY  NEWS.

BUT A PROMINENTLY SALTY AND SWEET BUTTERCREAM, REALLY GETS ME EXCITED

THERE are good, convenient reasons why, I’ve never made cupcakes before.

There are things best left unknown, things that, let’s just say, won’t help you enjoy your favourite foods by knowing.  Like the day I peed myself a little when I first poured in all that heavy cream, running as thick as blood, into making my most beloved Hokkaido “milk” toast two years ago.  Oh mommy, it wasn’t milk… it wasn’t milk…  And the same reasons that my fingers and soul trembled when, for the first time, I soiled my naive perception of a brioche dough with a rudely awakening amount of reality-butter.  That stormy night, the brioche was soft, but innocence was dead…  And then so many times after that, the freedom for ice cream was terrorized… and the guiltless-ness of salads wilted away…  Let’s not even go there, where now every time when I gaze upon the starry sheen of a melty crispy and chewy chocolate chips cookie, the rim of fat around my waist reverberates in echo of the truth behind its sublimity…  As a cook, I thought I wanted the truth.

I couldn’t handle the truth.

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BROWNIE-COW POPSICLES

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 SHUT UP, SHUP UP, SHUP UP

Let’s play a game, shall we?

Let’s see how much of my babbling you can withstand before you say “shut up, shut up, shut up!” and burst into the kitchen to make yourself one of these milk and any-brownie, or as I call it, brownie-cow popsicles?

Right, so you see here’s the thing.  I kinda love Earth.  Maybe not enough to tie myself to a tree per se, but I do love Earth enough that I have more bicycles than mascaras, and I haven’t had myself an ungodly orgasmic piece of toro, for like more than three years now.  And believe me, I do love my ungodly toro.  But there’s something else I love dearly as well…  In the light of summer-days when reality strikes, I realized that I do also hold high regards for… a dry butt crack.  Yes, yes they do come loose-fit, oversized, or wet, and I daresay, more frequently so, since a few years ago when we decided to live in this particular apartment-complex in Beijing.  Little did I know that Earth and my butt crack were set on a collision course.

You still there?

Right, so where was I?  Yes, dry butt crack.

You see here’s the thing, as mentioned before, the apartment-complex we live in is supposed to be really “green”.  Whatever that means…  There’s no heater in the winter, or air-conditioning in the summer because the temperature inside the entire 10 ginormous buildings are monitored by… well, a “greener” system of some sort.  Or at least as I was told, at a time before I learnt my lesson about China, and still believed what I was told.  Awww…  So we moved in, with good-will kicking and feel-good blazing, we, were gonna save earth, one lease at a time.

Then came the lesson.  Never.  Never.  And I mean neeeevah, believe what you are told in China!  Four excruciatingly warm summers later, we are looking more medium-rare than “green”, still melting inside our boxer-briefs, extra-large-holes tank tops, and our butt cracks… feeling wet my friend.  Feeling wet.

Heh… hello?  Right, there you are.

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So why haven’t we moved you ask?  If you were still here to ask questions…  Well that’s a very kindly irresponsible thought for you to have I mean, what kind of earthlings are we if we were to bail on our promises just because we feel like we were brushed with meat-glue every time we hug?

Icecap-Jack, you melt.  I melt.

So perhaps you should know that… hey, you there?  I’m talking to you!  Right, so you should know that heat tends to do things to weak minds… the other day when I literally risked my sanity and as a result, Jason’s well-being, by boiling a huge pot of stock for 4 hours which turned our lukewarm bitchy beachy apartment into a steaming mind-bending crater of active volcano, I think I hallucinated a lil’bit.

I drifted to the nearest Cold Stone joint, took off my boxer-brief and sat my steamy butt-crack right on top of their sub-zero slab of freezing stainless steels…  Tssss~ aaahhh… like a steak on grill, now this is where my cheeks belong…  And then, only then, somebody came and handed me my go-to combo – sweet cream base with mashed brownies.

That’s it.  Nothing.  Else.  This is a purist’s Cold Stone and how it should be.  I peaked through my fingers to see the next guy ordering something as if the local candy store is unleashing a fuck-fest on top of his ice cream-cup, and got really, really bothered.  Get a room!  This is a family joint!  So I turned away and literally, with my ass chilling, I was about to dig into my…

… then I drifted right back to reality.  Pot.  Boiling.  Hot.  STEAM.  VOLCAAAANO!  See I have to take matters into my own hands…

Take a good brownie.  And I mean a good brownie, the dense… chewy, fudgy and chocolate-y brownie, and in this case, infused with Nutella.  Then break it into large chunks.  Force feed them to your popsicle molds, and if you don’t have any, some freaking paper cups!  Jam a stick in there, I don’t know, a chopstick for all I care, then pour milk that’s been thickened with sweetened condensed milk…  Up up up up, up riiiight there when it just fills the mold.  Then you freeze the bejeezus out of them!

Chewy gets chewier…  Fudgy gets fudgier…  Then we both get one and sit our asses down on a sub-zero freezer slab, and I’ll tell you about the other time when I…

Hello?….  You there?

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Makes:  10 popsicles

You don’t have to make your own brownie.  You can certainly use a store-bought brownie, with flavours to your likings to make these popsicles.  And if you want creaminess, you can substitute whole milk with half and half.  Note that 3/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk is enough sweetness for my taste, but if you like a closer-to-commercial-level sweetness for your popsicles, use more.

Ingredients:

  • Nutella brownie:  adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s favourite brownies
    • 2 oz (60 grams) of bittersweet chocolate
    • 1 stick (115 grams) of unsalted butter
    • 1.5 oz (45 grams) of nutella
    • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp (163 grams) of granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp of flaky sea salt
    • 2/3 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • To make the popsicles:
    • 1 1/2 cup of whole milk
    • 3/4 cup (230 grams) ~ 1 cup (306 grams) of sweetened condensed milk

To make the nutella brownie:  Preheat the oven on 350ºF/175ºC.

In a microwave-proof bowl, add the bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter.  Microwave on high at a 30-seconds interval, stirring the mixture in between, until just melted (you’ll need approx 1:30 ~ 2 min).  Whisk in the granulated sugar and large eggs until thick and even, then add the vanilla extract and sea salt.  Whisk again until even. Add the all-purpose flour, fold the mixture together with a spatula until there is no flour-lumps left.  Pour the batter into a parchment-lined, 8″ square-pan or round-pan.  Bake in the oven for 25 min, until a wooden skewer comes out with moist crumbs from the center.

Let the brownie cool for 30 min.

To make the brownie popsicles:  Break the brownies up into large chunks (you’ll need about 2/3 of the brownies).  Lay a couple of pieces at the bottom of the popsicle-mold so the wooden stick has something to rest on, then insert the wooden stick.  Fill the empty space loosely with more brownies until they reach to the top.  Repeat with the rest.

Combine whole milk and sweetened condensed milk together, and warm in the microwave just enough for the sweetened condensed milk to dissolve (if not fully dissolved, the sweetened condensed milk will float to the surface during freezing).  Whisk the mixture together to make sure it’s fully incorporated, then pour the milk into the popsicle-molds until it fills to the top.

Freeze for at least 6 hours to overnight until hardened (in my experience, the popsicles always feel a bit soft right after they are removed from the molds, so once hardened, keep them removed and wrapped in plastic-wrap instead of inside the molds).

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THE SAUCY MARRIAGE PUDDING

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“VALENTINES, STEP ASIDE.
THIS IS PROFESSIONAL LOVE LIFE”

I was born a cynic.

I mean was that not obvious?  Had I been able to remember I’d say with certainty that I came in this world, a genetically negative and unpleasant baby who cursed at the color pink if she could form words, who went on to earnestly suggest divorce as an alternative lifestyle for her parents at age five.  Perhaps the last ounce of my lacking fluffiness died with the moment when my best friend stuffed Raccoon was brutally trashed in a random afternoon while I was away citing ABC’s at pre-school, the last straw in leaving a cold, hardened human being walking this lonely planet believing that all loves are, ultimately, just temporary.  So yes, I was born with, and still have now, a good faith in cynicism.

But somehow at the age of 27, I married my very first boyfriend.  How did that happen?

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