I love you...

like a [phat] kid loves [cheese]cake

Thursday, April 9, 2009

100 Restaurants. 12 Months. Very Hungry College Kids.


On Sunday, the annual edition of Michael Bauer's Bay Area's Top 100 Restaurants was released. Not only did this mean late night reading as I meticulously pored over each restaurant description, cuisine, and price, but I decided to take it one step further.

I created a mission: I have currently eaten at 14 of the 100 locations. In the next 12 months, I plan to dine at enough restaurants as to double that number. But I won't do it alone. I want all my friends and their friends to join me in this cuisine crusade!

Thus, a Facebook group was born bearing the name of this blog post. It has already accumulated 26 members, and I'm hoping for more! My ultimate goal is to turn this into a sort of community-building, people-meeting, all-around enjoyable breakfast, lunch, or dinner, where fellow foodies can dine together!

SO....April, 2010 = 28 restaurants.
The game is on.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vanilla-Coconut Cake With Coconut Buttercream


Man, April seems to be full of birthdays! I definitely do not remember so many last year, but then again, I hadn't yet met the awesome people I know this year!

For this birthday cake, I decided to adapt a recipe from Epicurious for vanilla-bean-coconut cupcakes. Vanilla beans are expensive, and since I'm not getting paid for these cakes [yet!], I'm sticking to good ol' extract. And then I ran out of white sugar, so brown sugar it is, which I actually like better! It makes the cake more moist, which is good since this was a tiny cake. I only made one layer and cut it in half into two since I was pressed for time, but it still fed everyone!

For the filling, I decided to do a combination of buttercream and strawberry preserves. I just had this brainwave as I was searching my fridge for butter and saw a jar. I garnished with a strawberry to hint at the filling. At first, I thought it might taste weird; I mean coconut and strawberries? But it was a hit, and the world of baking has once again been revolutionised.

OH, one more thing: Reduced coconut milk may be my new favourite cooking trend. It tastes amazing and the results are fabulous! In my next post, I'll show how I made good use of the leftovers...

Vanilla-Coconut Layered Cake with Strawberries

Reduced coconut milk:
  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 strawberry, sliced [garnish; optional]

Preparation

For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to mediumlow; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour one 8-inch round springform pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended.

Pour batter into pan and bake until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

To assemble:

Unwrap cake. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice off the top of the cake to make it flat. Reserve cake top to eat on its own! Slice the cake in half horizontally. On the bottom layer, spread with frosting. On the other layer, spread the preserves. Carefully lift the top layer and stack it on top of the first layer. Use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the frosting up and around the cake. Refrigerate.

Using a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off [which is what I do], pipe a design up and around the cake. Garnish with the sliced strawberry, and finish off by brushing a thin layer of preserves on the strawberry to give it a nice shiny glaze. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Midnight Chocolate [Eggless!] Cake


It's been ages since I last updated; so sorry! Things have been a little crazy, with going to Cancun for spring break, cramming for my Psycholinguistics midterm, and now, Cooking Club drama over trivial matters. Sheesh!

The good [or bad for my waistline] thing is, I've still managed to squeeze in a couple of cakes for birthdays that came out great! The first one, a simple chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, looks small, but it was very filling. Plus, I only use dark chocolate now, which adds an intensity that I just love!

The cool thing about this cake is that it's eggless, for my friend [and most other Indians] who are vegetarian and don't eat eggs, either. I used applesauce, which was a good substitute. To garnish the cake, I didn't have anything fancy, so I ended up cutting apple-cinnamon Nutri-grain bars! Sooo strange, yet soooo good!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Ganche [Recipe below]

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and line with parchment paper one 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Cream butter, add white sugar gradually and cream until fluffy. Blend in the applesauce.
  3. In a separate bowl, slowly add hot water to cocoa and mix until smooth, dissolving cocoa completely.
  4. In a third bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Blend in vanilla. Pour batter into one 9 inch round pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cake cool then top with chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache:

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
DIRECTIONS
  • Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
  • Allow the ganache to cool before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.