Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Baking

Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Buttercream Frosting

These past few weeks have been kinda busy stressy eesh.

Not all bad stuff but work has been full on, my social life has been full on and family, well I live away from my family, but they have been going through their own struggles. It’s not all bad but I find that I’m holding all this tension in my neck and in my arm and no matter how limber I’m getting with all this kettle-bell and back bridge exercises – the pain is still there.

While I’m not about to get onto the bandwagon about how the heavens are aligned against us this year – 2014 IS CURSED Y’ALL, THE DISASTERS, THE NEWS, THE THINGS – I think maybe it’s for some quiet times and reflection and just riding the wave of unpleasantness out.

Until then – let’s eat chocolate cake.

Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Buttercream Frosting

While this cake is pretty to look at and great in theory it was just a little weird. Like a little too sour and chewy for me. And it just got tougher as the days went by. The icing however, is still the best icing I’ve ever had or made. Pair it with the original Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (Ever) and you’re set for any future birthday cake you need to make from scratch.

Cake
3 Tbsps butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsps dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 170C/350F. Butter and “flour” an 8 by 8 baking pan using cocoa powder.

Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.

Beat in egg, vanilla and coffee. Add cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined.

Add yogurt and mix until batter is smooth. Pro tip – leave out the yogurt till its room temp before stirring in.

Add milk and mix until batter comes together. Pour into pan.

Bake for 20 minutes until cake is set. Cake will be thin and have a shiny weird finish. Hahahaha. I’m SELLING it.

Frost with the chocolate buttercream frosting. I used a spoon and butter nice and it looked fab.

Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbps + 2 tsps cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/4 tsp espresso powder

Whisk the cocoa powder to remove lumps.

Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

Add 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp milk to cocoa mixture and mix. Add rest of the sugar and milk and mix well.

Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and MIX.

* Cake recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.
** Frosting recipe from Add a Pinch.
*** Photography by Hoi Yee (paper_shins).

Caesar Salad

Baking, Cooking

Caesar Salad

Most of my food making is borne out of  – “What do I do with these leftover mashed potatoes? Oh Google says make shepherd’s pie. Ok, I can do that. Wait. I need cream but only half a cup. Hmm I guess I could make cupcakes or something with that. Oh damn. I have like waaay too much butter. Brownies?”

And the cycle keeps going. AND GOING.

This used to stress me out when I first started cooking different things that weren’t the staple, chicken curry, channa masala, Indian based dishes my Mom taught me to survive my undergrad in Canada. But now each week is an adventure because I’m improvising from what I cooked the week before and I’m not going to lie – even for a type-A, control-a-holic like me – it’s kind of exciting.

A couple of weeks ago I made lasagna, which was ok-ok (hence me not-posting it), and was left with half a hunk of Parmesan cheese. I don’t really eat that much cheese because I believe it makes me retain water and makes me breakout. But it’s expensive man. So I couldn’t throw it away.

This time Google didn’t help, instead it was a fresh caesar salad at the bistro/bar Overeasy that left me wanting more.

What makes this salad awesome is clearly the dressing and this particular rendition doesn’t have eggs or mayo. Yaay!

I also made the croutons from scratch and cooked up some shrimp. Because I’m fancy like that. If you want chicken instead – go ahead you pleb.

Caesar Salad

Dressing
4 whole anchovy fillets (If you want it more pungent, add more anchovies)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 whole lemon, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 dash salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Croutons
Half a loaf of sourdough bread, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
few twists of pepper
pinch of garlic salt (optional)

Protein Accompaniment
Precooked shrimp, as much as you want
2 Tbsps oil
Minced garlic, 2-4 cloves, depending on amount of shrimp
Lemon juice, depending on amount of shrimp
Pinch of salt

Salad
Romaine salad leaves, as much as you want
Parmesan, shaved/grated, as much as you want

Dressing
Using a small food processor blender, blend together the anchovies, Dijon mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic and lemon juice.

Add olive oil to the mixture and blend. Add the Parmesan, salt and black pepper. Blend until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the dressing for a few hours before using it on the salad.

Croutons
Preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Throw the cubed bread on a baking sheet.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan for 3 minutes or so. Add the salt, pepper and garlic salt.

Drizzle oil over the bread and mix with your hands so that the bread is evenly coated with the oil mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown.

Protein Accompaniment
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.

Add the minced garlic and shrimp – at the same time. (It will be fine I promise)

Cook till shrimp is done, it should be opaque and bit brown.

Add lemon juice at the last minute and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat.

Salad
Chop, wash and dry the romaine salad leaves.

Drizzle some dressing on the salad leaves. I can’t tell you how much because I don’t know how much salad you’re eating.

Throw in a good handful of the Parmesan cheese that you’ve shaved/grated.

Toss! See if you need more dressing, toss again.

Add the croutons and protein accompaniment.

EAT.

*Recipe adapted from Ree Drummond.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

Baking

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Guys it is time that I got serious about this blogging bizness. I like bought this domain for $18 a year. I don’t know about you but to me, that’s an investment. I mean instead of having my very own .com I could have bought 4 normal/ 2 over-priced sandwiches. Or half a dress!

But instead I’m choosing to fill a creative void in my life by maintaining this blog and entertaining people.

But am I really entertaining people? While I think I’m brilliant, my follower numbers and page views don’t seem to support that. My theory is my pictures suck. Wait no, they REALLY suck.

So this time I actually took these bars and cut of the edges and photographed them properly.

Side shot of the precariously balanced bars. I took me three tries to stack these so they didn't fall down.

Side shot of the precariously balanced bars. I took me three tries to stack these so they didn’t fall down.

These bars are dessert and breakfast worthy. Thankfully they also fall somewhere in the middle of healthy (oats) and unhealthy (butter).

The crumble mixture is nice and rich thanks to the butter and the sweet and tart raspberry jam balances it out nicely. Use decent quality jam. It’s really the key ingredient here.

This is what I call the sexy close up. Note the oozing jam and artful crumble. You almost can't see the side bits where the foil is stuck to the bar.

This is what I call the sexy close up. Note the oozing jam and artful crumble. You almost can’t see the side bits where the foil is stuck to the bar.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Line an 8 by 8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Grease foil.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in oats and brown sugar. Add butter, and using fingertips, work butter into mixture until evenly distributed.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the oat mixture to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer.

Spread raspberry jam into an even layer over oat layer. If you spread it to the edge, like I did, it will stick to the foil. If you don’t want that to happen, please follow the original recipe which advises you to keep the edge jam free for 1/4 inch.

Sprinkle top evenly with remaining oat mixture, then slightly press into jam layer.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Man I need to wash my dishtowels more often.

Man I need to wash my dishtowels more often.

*Recipe from Cooking Classy.

READ THIS: VOLUME 7

Thoughts

Happy Good Friday y’all! WOOT!

The beautiful beach at Sapi Island.

The beautiful beach at Sapi Island.

Planning to go to Kota Kinabalu (KK) for a holiday? Here are a few tips:

  • You need to book wayyy in advance if you want to climb Mount Kinabalu. I did not and had to enjoy the moutain from afar…
  • Best place for food in Kota Kinabalu is Fatt Kee Restaurant. Order the Assam Fish Curry and Sabah Chai (veg).
  • Visit the Poring Hot Springs (2 hour drive from KK) and stay/eat at Round Inn where the service and food are awesome.

Can’t stop binge reading Gemma Burgess‘ New York set chick lit – Currently feverishly flipping through Love and Chaos.

My plans for this lovely long weekend include:

Finally If Google Was a Guy is really spot on. Heehee.

Banana, Chocolate & Coffee Muffins

Baking

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These muffins were almost healthy.

They were supposed to be made with whole-wheat flour. But do you know what happens to whole-wheat flour when you leave it in your pantry and then open it months later because you’ve finally found a recipe that calls for it? It becomes a seething mass of weevil infested powder.

So last night this happened:

Doo-doo-doo I’m opening the Lock-Lock container that holds the flour. Oh man, an ant got in. Wait, there are ants all over. WAIT THAT’S A LOT OF ANTS.

“HOI! HOI! HOI! WHAT is THIS??? HELP!!!”

“Err… I don’t think those are ants…”

“WHAT is THIS??? HOW did they GET IN? This is a LOCK-LOCK container! IS THE LOCK-LOCK CONTAINER BROKEN??”

“Um – I think those things come from the flour itself?”

“I HAVE to THROW this AWAY! I’m such an IDIOT! WHY DID I THINK I COULD KEEP FLOUR FOR THIS LONG?!!”

As you can probably tell I’m a little melodramatic.

BUT I’m also a good problem solver. And have been baking long enough to know that hey – just use the white flour Dini. Just use the white flour.

And guess what? They turned out great. They are a sticky, banana-based muffin with just enough chocolate chips to keep you happy. Next time I would double the coffee concentration (same amount of water). I can barely taste it with the recipe below.

Makes 12

1 cup + 2 Tbsps + 2 tsps plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps buttermilk (Sub with 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 Tbsp vinegar – let is sit for 5 mins then measure what you need)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps canola oil
1/2 cup banana, mashed
1/2 cup banana,diced
2 Tbsp strong coffee (1/2 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in water and allowed to cool)
1 egg, small
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the oil, buttermilk, mashed banana, coffee, vanilla, maple syrup, sugars and egg.

Whisk the wet ingredients together and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix.

Add diced banana and chocolate chips to batter, mix until just combined. The original recipe says to not overmix but I AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT. And it turned out fine so…

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer inserted comes out clean.

*Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog.
**Photography courtesy of Hoi Yee (paper_shins)

READ THIS: VOLUME 6

Thoughts

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These look amazing don’t they? Well I FOOLED you – because they were super undercooked due to some extremely inaccurate oven temp conversion action! I still ate one.

Which Celebrity Decorator Get’s You? I got Jonathan Adler and I think yes. It’s accurate.

A workout to try next time I’m running outside.

I can never figure out my face shape – pentagonal?

 Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day is coming up on April 8th! Let’s go together-gether!

*Photography courtesy of Hoi Yee (paper_shins)