Coffee and Walnut Sponge with Coffee Cream

Hubby was inspired by the Coffee & Walnut Sponge made by Delia Smith in her latest show “Delia through the Decades“. It seemed easy enough to be a suitable project for de-stressing myself after a busy week at work. Poor Hubby was also stressed at work, and that further encouraged me to make this cake which has his favourite flavours: coffee and walnuts.

I multiplied the cake ingredients by 1.5 times so that I can bake an 8” cake; the filling ingredients was doubled (except for the sugar, which I added more to suit my personal preferences). The cake resonated with too much ammonia smell when it was fresh from the oven and I was worried. Luckily, I couldn’t really taste the ammonia – perhaps it was masked by the strong coffee taste. The cream is not too rich – it’s made of mascarpone cheese, flavoured with instant coffee. On the whole, it was a breeze to make and most importantly, Hubby loves it.

Some notes:

  • Don’t worry if the batter appears too little. Have faith and the cakes will rise and with all the cream, it won’t be a flat cake.
  • Bake the cakes in a normal aluminium cake tin (not black, not non-stick, not spring-foam). I bake one half in the normal aluminium tin; and another in a non-stick springfoam tin. The cake in the aluminium tin rose beautifully and did not burn, while the cake in the springfoam tin rose only a little and worse still, the bottoms were slightly burnt (luckily the burnt bits can be scrapped off and did not affect the overall taste of the cake)
  • Chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours before serving to allow the cream to set.

Sharing with you the cross-section….

Thanks, Hubby, for helping to ice and frost the cake J.

P/S: I’m looking forward to the next episode of “Delia through the Decades“. Delia’s going to make Squidgy Chocolate Log, which is one of my favourite chocolate cakes. I must see how she does it and why her logs look so beautiful and do not crack, unlike my attempts….

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Marble Cheesecake: Orange and Dark Chocolate

Brother requested for a cheesecake…and he was certainly specific about what he wanted: a marble cheesecake flavoured with orange liqueur, streaked with dark chocolate. Orange and dark chocolate – a heavenly combination

I bought Cointreau for this purpose and added to the vanilla portion. I was in an alcoholic mood: added Tia Maria to the chocolate portion. Then, I found that the chocolate batter was not chocolatey enough….added more cocoa…Result: chocolate portion tastes a little bitter 😦

Also the chocolate batter was too heavy: I didn’t mix enough vanilla batter with the melted chocolate. As a result, instead of a marbling/streaky effect, there are 2 distinct layers: vanilla on the top and chocolate at the bottom. At least now I know how to create double-decker cheesecakes. Hee!

This time, I tried a different method: I separated the whites from the yolks; added the yolks into the cheese mixture; whisk the whites with some sugar till soft peaks; fold the whisked whites into the cheese mixture. The difference is in the texture: when the eggs are mixed in gently into the cheese mixture, the cheesecake is creamy and dense; whilst the cheesecake made with whisked whites was still creamy, it was lighter, not so dense.

(pardon the untidy cheesecake…I didn’t use a hot knife to cut the cheesecake)

(So sad that I can’t recreate the nice browning I previously had. At least the cheesecake didn’t crack….)

Calla’s notes

  • I used 65% chocolate. The batter didn’t taste chocolatey, I need to have faith….
  • Need to mix enough vanilla batter with melted chocolate, such that the vanilla batter and chocolate batter have the same consistency; unless the intent is to create 2 distinct layers.
  • To try baking at 150 deg C for at least 1.5h to 2h. Cheesecake seems a little too soft, no matter how long I refrigerate it….

Black Forest Log

As mentioned previously, I made a Black Forest Log for Christmas. I adapted Delia’s recipe, but made my own brandied cherries using Rose’s recipe. As usual, the rolling was messy, but at least it didn’t really look like “wuthering heights”. Hubby’s rolling skills have improved!

Some felt that the cocoa powder topping was too bitter – hence need to reduce. Perhaps the key is to lightly dust, as what Delia says. Otherwise, I could try dusting with drinking chocolate powder, or even Milo powder (hee!). The brandied cherries were delicious. I plan to buy more fresh cherries and use the remaining Kirsch….

Thankfully it was well-received: Hubby requests this to be made for his bday cake next year; and surprisingly, Mummy likes the cream more than the cherries itself….

Calla’s notes:

  • To lightly dust with cocoa powder. Otherwise, can try drinking chocolate powder or Milo powder
  • If the chocolate mousse filling hardens, heat it up in a bain marie till it melts – be careful not to overcook it. Otherwise, heat up over bain marie till it barely melts, then add milk, bit by bit, to reconstitute to spreadable consistency.
  • Try to make this the day before. After doing the filling, put in the freezer overnight to firm up the filling and cake. Bring to refrigerator a few hours before serving to soften the cake slightly.

Tiramisu Take 2

I tried making Tiramisu last Saturday. This time, I added more Baileys to the mascarpone cheese. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how much Baileys I added! I think I added about 150ml. The cheese mixture became quite watery… I was worried that the cream mixture would be too watery. Fortunately, it wasn’t. Perhaps that was because I increased the cream to 600ml. I bought 2 bottles of 300ml cream. As I didn’t want any left-over cream, I whipped all 600ml.

I just tried the Tiramisu tonight. I think the liquor taste is more pronounced this time, compared to the previous attempt. I’m happy the way it is, although I think I won’t mind if more liquor is added.

No pictures…as I was too excited to try…

Some notes:

  • I added approximately 150ml of Baileys to the mascarpone cheese mixture. Best to taste to check whether it is to personal preference.
  • I used 600ml cream. This could help in mitigating the mixture becoming to watery.
  • I only prepared half the syrup, and it was sufficient. There were left-overs, but it was more manageable than the previous attempt.

Mount Cocoa

Doesn’t this look like a mountain spewing chocolate lava…?

Chocolate lava cake is my favourite dessert – simply because I can get the maximum chocolaty effect. That’s why I was determined to learn how to bake this favourite dessert of mine.

Through research on the internet, I found out that there are 2 methods of baking this cake:

  1. cook the batter till the outsides are cooked while the interior is still molten.
  2. place a chocolate truffle in the middle of the batter. The chocolate truffle will melt, producing molten chocolate.

My favourite cookbook writer – Delia Smith – has a recipe for this type of chocolate cake. My first attempt did not produce a lava flow as I had forgotten to take into account that my pudding basins were smaller than Delia’s and did not adjust the cooking time accordingly.

My next attempt was more successful:

  • I omitted the brandy – it doesn’t appear to affect the taste of the cake.My pudding basins had a capacity of 125ml. I baked the cakes at 200 deg C (oven dial at 200 deg C) for about 6 minutes, using both top and bottom heat elements.
  • The basins should be filled nearly to the top as the cakes only rise a little during baking.
  • It’s done when the top looks cooked – when you shake the mould, the mixture does not quiver. The cake also shrinks from the side of the mould.
  • The tops should also look firm to touch (please don’t press to hard, or else the thin crust will be punctured!). The toothpick test won’t work because the centre of the cake is molten chocolate.

I had also varied the recipe by including Marks and Spencers’ Brandied Cherries (those chocolates with brandied cherry in the centre) into the batter: spoon batter till basin is about ¼ full, place chocolate on batter – do not push down, as we want the lava to be concentrated in the centre of the cake, pour more batter till the basin is almost full, the batter should cover the chocolate, bake as per normal. This variation tastes great – like a black forest cake!

This is a great dessert to serve at small dinner parties: can be prepared in advance (batter can be refrigerated and it takes a minute or 2 longer to bake), fast to cook, no fancy deco required (maybe a vanilla ice-cream) and chocolate is usually a crowd-pleaser! Well, at least the puddings pleased my hubby, mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law… 🙂

Wuthering Heights…

I first did this for 2007 xmas and brought it to a xmas party. The log was well-received, despite the obvious lack of looks – it really looked like a pool of mud. I also did it for a family xmas dinner and my brother christened it “Wuthering Heights”, as if a log which had crashed during a thunderstorm….haha…so you can imagine, how terrible it looks.

The recipe is from Delia Smith. Ingredients and method are pretty straight forward, but the result….the cake always seemed too soft to roll! As a result, part of the mousse was used to cover the whole log and to patch the chipped away pieces….and as a result, “Wuthering Heights” emerged….

I am determined to get this recipe right and this time, I think I took a big step forward. The log looks kind of presentable, huh… (see picture at the beginning of the post)

This is really a delicious and wicked chocolate sponge – there’s no flour, no oil, just eggs, sugar and cocoa – filled with lots of thick cream and chocolate mouse, topped with icing sugar….yum! It may sound rich, but the cake is surprisingly light. Oohhh… I can’t wait for its debut later this evening at my family’s reunion dinner.

A cross-section of the log…

Calla’s notes:

  • I bake at 160 deg C for about 25 – 30 min.
  • When the cake is cool, put it into the refrigerator to firm up.
  • Perhaps next time, I will leave it to cool in the oven, as the top becomes sticky as it cools….wonder why…. Then when it is completely cold, to put in the refrigerator.
  • Best to do one day in advance so that the finished cake can firm up in the refrigerator.

Where’s the itsy bitsy spider?

(My project to document my observations of past bakes)

Here’s the web, but where’s the spider?

Well, I was trying to display my artistic talents in decorating the cheesecake lol… This was achieved by pouring alternate layers of batter into the centre of the pan and then using a toothpick drawing lines from the centre to the sides to create a spider-web effect.

This is a cranberry swirl cheesecake that I baked for my mother-in-law who requested for a citrusy cheesecake. As I had Crabtree & Evelyn cranberry sauce, I decided to make use of that. I adapted a recipe on the Epicurious website which had good reviews.

Well cheesecakes are really capricious….One time it baked nicely without any cracks…another time, it cracked despite having the same temperature etc. Wonder whether I had overbeaten the mixture 😦

The above picture was my first attempt…smooth top and crack-free…but I wasn’t so fortunate for the second attempt…

The cross-section… pardon the untidiness….

This was also the first attempt…I didn’t manage to take pics of the cross-section of the spider-web cake…

Looks aside, the taste was great: smooth, creamy….yummy! Hubby, mother-in-law and sister-in-law liked it…I think I will use this recipe as my base for future cheesecakes…

Here’s the recipe I used, which is adapted from the Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry-Raspberry Compote recipe on the Epicurious website:

Base

200g Chocolate biscuits, without the crème (I used Oreo brand)

50g melted butter

Line the base of an 8″ springfoam pan with aluminium foil. Wrap the outside of the pan with another layer of aluminium foil.

Crush the chocolate biscuits finely. Mix melted butter with crushed chocolate biscuits. Press biscuit mixture onto the pan. Place pan in the fridge.

Filling

750g cream cheese, at room temp

170g caster sugar

4 eggs, each weighing about 60g – including the shell, at room temp

230g sour cream (I used “light” with no adverse results)

60g whipping cream

1tbsp vanilla essence

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

16 oz ready-made cranberry sauce ( I used Crabtree and Evelyn brand)

Cube the cream cheese. Beat it using a mixer at low to medium speed till the cheese flicks easily off the spatula. Scrape down the sides and bottom of mixing bowl frequently.Add in caster sugar and beat at low to medium speed. Make sure that there are no lumps.

Add in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla essence. Mix till just combined at low to medium speed and ensure that there are no lumps.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix till just combined at low speed.

Transfer 1/3 of batter into another bowl. Add cranberry sauce and mix till just combined. Add orange zest to the remaining 2/3 batter and mix till just combined.

Remove pan from fridge. To create the concentric effect shown in the first picture, pour in alternate layers of the cranberry and vanilla batters into the centre of the pan. When all the batter is poured into the pan, hit the pan on the kitchen counter-top to remove air bubbles. Prick any visible air bubble that rise to the top of the cake with a toothpick and smoothen surface.

Boil water. Place pan into a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan till it covers half the height of the cake pan. Remember to top up the roasting pan with boiling water during the baking.

Bake at 150 deg C for about 2 hours. To test whether the cake is done, shake the pan gently, the sides should be firm while the centre is still wobbly. Switch off oven and leave the cake in the oven for at least an hour (You may remove the water bath, or you can leave it in the oven). Remove the cake from the oven – the centre should no longer be wobbly – and complete cooling on the cooling rack and thereafter keep it the fridge overnight. Remove the cake from the pan the next day.

Bon appétit!

Note: The cooking time and temperature actually depends on individual oven. For my oven, although the dial is at 150 deg C, the oven thermometer indicates about 100 deg C – perhaps it’s due to the steam from the water bath. It took about 2 hrs of baking time for the cake to be done.

 

Tiramisu – Updated

I’ve posted an update on my attempt to make tiramisu yesterday….  See here.

Tiramisu

It’s the first time I baked after CNY. As my parents’ anniversary is approaching, I made one of my mum’s favourite cake – Tiramisu – today. Recipe was adapted from Cuisinette who posted in the Imperial Kitchen Forum.

Some pointers that I noted while I was making Tiramisu:

  • I found out that good logistics planning is required. Firstly, I checked whether the fridge could accommodate my mixing bowls. Next, I also had to plan what to whip first as the bowl and whip used to beat the cream should be well-chilled prior to beating the cream, and whipping egg whites require a clean bowl and whip.
  • Check out a you-tube video on how to whip cream to medium/stiff peaks – I find that it’s useful. For a link to this video, please see “Cooking Tips” on the left.
  • The syrup to soak the ladyfingers required 2 tbsp of melted chocolate. I used about 40g of 55% chocolate.
  • Next time, I would melt the chocolate prior to preparing the syrup.
  • I used an aluminium disposable tray and used 34 lady fingers. In the end I got excess syrup – think I used only 1/3! Not sure whether my ladyfingers are soaked to the extent that I like….will need to check it out.
  • The amount of cream was sufficient for the tray.
  • For the cream, I used 500g mascarpone cheese as I did not want to have any left-overs. I also increased the Baileys to 40ml.

The Tiramisu is now chilling in the fridge…can’t wait to check out the taste. Will post an update on the taste and photos…..

Update on 25 February:

  • I prefer a stronger alcohol taste. I will add additional Baileys and/or Kahlua to the mascarpone cheese.
  • I used a total of 100g of sugar in the cream mixture – sweetness was just nice.
  • I think the ladyfingers were sufficiently soft. Therefore I will reduce the syrup.
  • To seriously consider doing the tiramisu in smaller pans if the tiramisu is to be divided into portions to be given away….

Some pictures for you to enjoy….pardon the untidiness….