White Chocolate Raspberry Pie

How this pie came about was really simple. I was looking at my usual roster of baking blogs, and I had left a blog up where there was a link to a “White Chocolate Raspberry Tart.” And that’s how it all began.

I didn’t have a pie dish, and coincidentally, pie crusts were on sale at the supermarket so I got one. Surprisingly, acquiring fresh berries isn’t difficult at all in the middle of winter. The recipe that I was inspired by was this one, but I thought the filling was too finicky and too calorific. I don’t have a sieve, I don’t have good white chocolate, I don’t even have a decent crust. I’ll just make something up!

And so I did. I bought a box of instant vanilla pudding from Trader Joe’s, and folded in some whipped cream for lightness. Not surprisingly, the pie collapsed on me – which is why there are no pictures of the sliced pie. The pie crust didn’t hold together, and the filling was too gooey. It was quite delicious, though, for a quick fix of the dessert that it is.

White Chocolate Raspberry Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie

1 9 inch pie crust
1 box of vanilla pudding; serves 4 1/2 cup servings
1 cup of heavy cream, whipped
3/4 cup of white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 pint of raspberries

Make vanilla pudding as instructed on box. Add melted white chocolate to pudding. Add half of whipped cream to mixture and mix. Pour into pie crust. Layer remaining whipped cream onto pie filling. Top pie with raspberries. Chill for at least an hour, or not if you can’t wait.

I imagine that this combination would translate easily into a trifle, which is a lot less fussy. For a single serving dessert, just crumble some cookies into the base of a glass and add in vanilla pudding, white chocolate chips and raspberries in layers. I’m sure raspberry jam would go beautifully in the dessert too.

Pandan Cupcakes with Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting

For some reason, I have been craving a taste of home lately. I tried my best with my version of comfort food: century egg porridge. But I wanted something sweet. I wanted something that tastes like home but with my own unique twist. And thus I present, a fusion of East meets West: pandan cupcakes with kaya whipped cream frosting. The English word for pandan is screwpine. I only found out about that recently, actually. Kaya is a coconut and egg jam that is typically flavored with either pandan or gula melaka, i.e. palm sugar.

I googled “pandan cupcakes”, and found a recipe that included yogurt. I had a bucket of it sitting in my fridge, which I thought would substitute for chocolate pudding if I added cocoa powder and sweetener in it, but that didn’t work out quite so well. I don’t really like yogurt by itself – it’s usually too sweet, or too sour – and it just feels very gloopy in the mouth. I won’t say no to froyo, though.

The cupcakes had a nice brown rim on the edge of the cupcake, and it really provided a nice textural contrast to the cupcake. I’m not extremely fond of the texture itself. The recipe called for cake flour, but I only had all-purpose flour so I used that instead. Perhaps that created a less tender crumb.

The cupcake had a texture not unlike like fa gao. It was slightly rubbery, I thought. That’s not a good thing though. I cored the cupcakes and added a small amount of kaya in it, just for a nice little hit of kaya, but the kaya I got was very mediocre. I wouldn’t want anymore in my cupcake. The brand of the kaya is Yeo’s. It was the only brand available – I didn’t have a choice! Maybe I could try my hand at homemade kaya some day… some day.

Pandan Cupcakes with Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Adapted from My Kitchen:My Laboratory
Makes 7 cupcakes

3/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose, you’d be fine if you did too but cake flour would yield a more tender crumb)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
1/2 tsp pandan paste
7 teaspoons of kaya, approximately

Line 7 cupcake tins; and preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix yogurt and pandan paste; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl till light and fluffy. Add egg and mix till incorporated. Add 1/3 portion of flour mixture to butter mixture. Add 1/2 of yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add another 1/3 of flour to butter mixture. Add remaining yogurt mixture to butter mixture. Add remaining flour to butter mixture.

Divide into 7 cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes, turning from front to back midway. Cool in pan for 7 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

When completely cool, core cupcakes. I used a narrow knife and cut a pyramid-shaped piece out in the middle. Fill holes with kaya. Do not overfill.

Kaya Whipped Cream Frosting
Makes enough to frost 7 cupcakes, and then some to lick from the bowl

1/2 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons kaya (or to taste)

Add sugar to heavy cream. Beat till soft peaks form. Fold in kaya. Frost on completely cool cupcakes.

Red Velvet (Albino) Half-Cake

I made a red velvet cake – without red food coloring. I love red velvet cake. I don’t know what is so irresistible about it. Is it the contrast between the deep red cake and the snow white icing? Or is it just the inexplicable flavor of the cake that you can’t put your finger on? Well, this cake I made proves that red velvet cake is delicious even without the red food dye.

It’s called a half-cake because I only made one layer and cut it into half. It is such a sumptuous treat for such a simple cake. There was no butter in it, but the oil made it very moist and flavorful (and a lot easier to mix up too – creaming butter without a mixer is a huge pain). The whipped cream frosting is very simple, and would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to whip the cream by hand. But hey, the lack of fancy tools to aid my baking helps me to 1) bake less and 2) work out more! And oh, my frosting skills are not quite there yet.

One thing I noted was that the cake sunk a little bit in the center. I don’t know if it’s because I substituted out self-rising flour, or what it is.
Red Velvet Half-Cake with Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes half a 9-inch round cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 7/8 teaspoons baking powder
5/8 teaspoon salt
(above three ingredients are substitutes for self-rising flour; original recipe uses 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour)
1 tablespoon natural (not dark) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon red wine or any type of regular vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.

Mix the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring together in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil and sugar. Using a heavy duty scraper or large spoon, add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the egg mixture alternately in three parts, stirring until flour is mixed in.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pan. If using a springform, you can remove the sides and invert.

Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
Frosts a half-cake, and then some

1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make frosting, whip heavy cream till soft peaks form. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till creamy. Fold into whipped cream.

To make a layer cake, cut the cake round in half. Ice one half. Stack second half on top and ice the whole half-cake.

It’s easier to whip cream when the bowl, whisk, and cream is very cold. Adding a tablespoon or two of sugar from the 1 cup into the cream before whipping helps it whip up faster.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Trifle

Ooh la la. This is a personal creation. It’s pretty delicious, and very easy to make. No bake, just assemble and you’re ready to go.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Trifle
Serves 2-3

For cream cheese flavored whipped cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp milk

Add sugar to heavy cream. Whip heavy cream till soft peaks form. (Tip: keep heavy cream chilled, and chill bowl and whisk prior to whipping.) Add milk to cream cheese. Mix till evenly mixed.

For rest of trifle:
5 graham cracker sheets
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
4 tbsp caramel sauce with1 tsp salt

Layer in a glass bowl or any bowl with high sides in this order: graham crackers, whipped cream, caramel sauce, chocolate chips for about three layers. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Caramel Sauce

Sweet, unctuous caramel sauce with notes of vanilla and a nuttiness from the caramelized sugar. I’ve discovered that it works fantastic with cream biscuits. Drizzle a generous tablespoon of caramel sauce on a halved biscuit and you have a fireworks explosion of cream on cream in your mouth.

Caramel Sauce
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, Food Network
Makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 7 to 10 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don’t worry – the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

Cream Biscuits

These biscuits melt in your mouth and are a delight to eat. Smear on some grape jelly and a pat of butter and you have a delicious dessert/appetizer/breakfast/snack. For an added oomph, drizzle some homemade caramel sauce. Desserts should account for every meal. The original recipe says sugar is optional – I declare the sugar absolutely necessary.

Cream Biscuits
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 10 biscuits

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using two additional tablespoons, or half the unused cream.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use.

Note: Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5. If freezing, dip biscuits in melted butter just before baking. I find that the tops of my biscuits don’t brown as well when frozen. Baking in the upper third of the oven helps the browning, but creates a slightly burnt bottom.