Christmas Gifts

It’s the time for gift exchange at the office Christmas party…I decided to take a different approach from prior years: home-made chocolate chip cookies. I bought the jars and the cellophane bags from Daiso and spent an entire afternoon baking the cookies. The chocolate chip cookie recipe was previously blogged about here. This time, I used a ½ tbsp measuring spoon, instead of a 1 tsp (5ml) measuring spoon. The cookies are now a little bigger and there’s no noticeable change in cooking times. I personally prefer the cookie moulded using the ½ tbsp spoon. If I use a ½ tbsp spoon to mould, 1 recipe can yield about 60 cookies. Sharing with you the Christmas bakes 🙂

I hope the recipients will like the gifts 🙂

White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

Christmas is coming…So I thought of trying a more Christmassy cookie.  I’ve seen this cookie recipe by Tyler Florence which is posted on Epicurious. It was a little too sweet, but it’s great with cold milk. I also like the texture: crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. Sharing with you my cookies:

I hope to try with a ½ tbsp to spoon the dough, as I would like a slightly smaller cookie.

Law Pak Ko

After our success with the Chinese Carrot Cake, my hubby and myself were encouraged to make Law Pak Ko. We followed So Sze Wong’s recipe (host of TVB’s So Good cookery shows). Her recipe is as follows:

Steamed Carrot Cake – HK style: from So Good So Ox ep 2
(makes 4 8″ round tins)

Ingredients:

4.2kg radish

600g Chinese sausage (lup cheong), cubed

14pcs chinese mushrooms, cubed

12pcs dried scallops, soaked, steamed, shredded; keep the water

4tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

Oyster sauce

pepper

600g rice flour, less 1 cup    )    Mix

1 cup 澄麵 [wheat starch]      )

Spring onions, chopped

White sesame seeds

Red date

Method:

  1. Shred radish coarsely. Cook shredded radish in a wok over high fire.
  2. In another wok, add oil and fry Chinese sausage. Then add mushroom and scallop and fry. Dish up in a plate.
  3. Add some of the water kept from the scallop into the radish. Don’t cook the radish. When water is released from the radish, turn off fire
  4. Add in salt and sugar. Add oyster sauce and pepper to taste.
  5. Add Chinese sausage mixture, and chopped spring onion (stem portion) and mix.
  6. Sieve flour mixture in 3 portions over the radish mixture. Mix quickly and well after each sieving to prevent flour becoming lumps.
  7. Pour mixture into tins. Steam over high heat for 30 – 35 min
  8. When cooked, sprinkle white sesame seeds and chopped spring onion (leaf portion). Place a red date in the centre for decoration.

We quartered the recipe. While frying, the mixture looks like this (after flour is added)

Immediately after steaming….

After overnight refrigeration….

Pan-fried….

We found the cake too firm…suspect that it was because we added more flour than the recipe called for….haha should have stick to the recipe…

Anyway, we felt that it was still delicious 🙂 We will probably make it for CNY!

As Fluffy as a Cloud…

(My project to document my observations of past bakes)

As my grandparents-in-law require soft foods, I was racking my brains what baked goodies were suitable for them. As I was surfing the internet for ideas, I thought, “Why not cupcakes – they are likely to be soft and being small makes it easier for the grandparents to eat?”

With that thought in mind, I looked for cupcake recipes to try. This lemon cream cheese cupcake was not my first choice. I tried another one, but it turned dry and dense after a day. I needed something that could keep soft and fluffy for at least a day when I bring the cupcakes to Malaysia. More about that cupcake in another post.

The lemon cream cheese cupake is from Betty Saw’s book “Tempt Cupcakes to Excite” and is posted on the net by various bloggers. I’m glad that the texture remained soft and fluffy even after a day! Also, I think the taste is good – full of lemony and creamy goodness. However, the sides and bottoms browned too fast – looks burnt, but doesn’t taste burnt (phew!). Think that’s because my mini muffin tin was the non-stick, black version. I will bake at a reduced temperature of 160 deg C to overcome this. Also, I will fill the muffin tins to about ½ to 2/3, so that the cupcakes will not rise over the paper cases and become too brown….

On another occasion, I varied with orange, but I think lemon is the best!

I present to you lemony goodness on a cloud…

Going Nuts

(My project to document my observation of past bakes)

In addition to chocolate chip cookies, I also baked peanut cookies as gifts. I was inspired to bake a cookie that I think my dad will like – at least he likes peanuts… The recipe was obtained from Karlskrona who posted on the Imperial Kitchen (thanks, Karlskrona!). The recipe was certainly quite simple, really a 1-bowl cookie. It certainly didn’t take long to churn out the following:

Here’s a close-up….

Looks pretty, but hubby and dad thought that there could be more peanut flavour for the initial attempt. Also, the cookie was too crunchy for my liking – I like this type of cookie to be melt-in-the-mouth.

For the second attempt, peanuts were roasted (thanks, hubby!), peanut butter was added, balls were smaller and cooking time reduced. The results: more peanutty flavour and a melt-in-the mouth texture. However, I think I did a lousy job in glazing the cookies… Somehow, it didn’t have the lovely golden brown sheen…

It took me three attempts to recreate the flavour I like…

Calla’s notes on the recipe (I quartered the measurements):

  • I used deshelled peanuts in this recipe. I roasted them in the pan, leave it to cool, then grind.
  • I added approximately 3 tbsp peanut butter to enhance the peanutty flavour (re: ¼ recipe). Skippy peanut butter produces excellent results. Peter Pan peanut butter was not bad either.
  • I used 85ml ground peanut oil to bind the dough together (re: ¼ recipe). This has to be monitored. I started off with 50ml, then add bit by bit till mixture binds into a dough that wipes the sides of the bowl clean.
  • I baked at about 160 deg C for 10 min, rotating the tray approximately after 5 min. I didn’t use the top heating element this time, as I felt the oven was too hot. Perhaps that’s why the tops did not have the sheen.

     

Quest for my Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie

(My project to document my observation of past bakes…)

I’ve been on the quest for my favourite chocolate chip cookie for the longest possible time. Preferences for chocolate chip cookie can be varied: some like it crunchy, others like it chewy; some like it thick, others like it thin; some like it big, others like it small….. Also chocolate chips can be milk, dark, white… Chocolate chip cookies could be paired with cocoa batter, other with dried fruits such as cranberries and raisins, or with oats, or with nuts…. The combinations are endless!

My aim is to master 2 types of basic chocolate chip cookie: crunchy and chewy. Also the winning recipes should be easily varied to add nuts, fruits, etc. I have about 16 chocolate chip recipes of different combinations (and the collection will definitely grow!) – all of which I will eventually test in my quest to find my favourite chocolate chip cookie. I have previously tested 5 recipes, and I wasn’t entirely satisfied L.

While working in my Chinese New Year Test Kitchen, I found a winning recipe for the crunchy chocolate chip cookie. I came across it in a blog by Didally and the recipe was posted by Connie in the Kitchen Capers Forum – thanks to Connie and Didally for sharing the recipe. Some pics for your viewing pleasure…

Don’t they make you wish to grab them? 😛

Some notes about the recipe:

  • This recipe can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. I personally prefer this way so that the butter wouldn’t melt too much.
  • I also usually leave the dough in the fridge prior to baking.
  • I used a 5ml measuring spoon to shape my dough to get even round shapes. Some may find it too small, but they turn out bite-size, much like the size of Famous Amos cookies.
  • I bake these cookies for about 12 min…. Bake at lower heat only for the 1st half or until the cookies appear dry (as opposed to wet, then turn pans around and bake at lower and upper heat, till edges are golden brown. The cookies may turn out soft, but will turn crunchy as they cool down. If they still remain soft, bake them again.
  • The cookies will lose its crunch after being left in the open for too long. Hence, it’s imperative to keep these cookies in air-tight containers. Otherwise, you could put the cookies in the oven to crisp them up again.
  • One batch makes about 90 bite-sized cookies.

I made 10 bottles of these for family and friends….phew! Will try to make the presentation more professional next year….

Will be trying out a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe next…