So I still have a lot of catching up to do from all of my summer travels, but in the meantime, I figured I’d do a little post about cake because it’s pretty fantastic. But anyways, have you ever spent hours doing virtually nothing? I have! Whilst waiting in the mornings or afternoons or evenings at my grandparents’ home in Taiwan, my young(er) cousin passed time by playing fruit ninja on her super fancy iPad 2 (and no, sorry. that’s not the giveaway hahaha). Before I left, she asked me, “Do you think about fruit ninja randomly sometimes?” And I said that yes, I did occasionally. To which she responded, “Okay good. Because I do. I think about it a lot. Especially passionfruit. It’s so yummy!”
Now a few days earlier, I had gone with my grandpa to the street market and bought a bag of passionfruit. Upon bringing it home, we scooped out the flesh and my grandpa suggested that we eat it straight up. But what with my grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, and I all in the house, I knew that we’d want to stretch it as far as we could. So my cousin and I ran down to the FamilyMart (think 7/11) and bought a bottle of Taiwanese Sprite. We mixed it up with the passionfruit and everyone loved it.
I wish it was possible to bring back passionfruit, but alas, Customs and Border Security would throw it into their bin of “international waste” (sniffle, sniffle). But! I’ve got the next best thing:
passionfruit/apricot preserves and passionfruit extract (purchased in an international mart in Taiwan)
So. Secret’s out! If I’ve recently made you a passionfruit cake, I did not in fact pluck passionfruit off of my nonexistent lilikoi tree in the back yard. Disappointed? Don’t be! Just leave a comment, any comment below and you will be eligible to win a bottle of passionfruit extract(!), thereby enabling you to also flavor your cakes and cookies with the addicting flavor that is passionfruit.
The passionfruit extract is pretty iridescent as you can see:
…and it smells pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.
Limit one entry per person and U.S. residents only. We’ll see how many nibbles there are, but for now, I’ma leave this giveaway open until 12:00 AM EST on Friday, August 26 2011.
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Angel Food Cake
(very lightly adapted from here)
1 cup (3 oz) sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbls egg whites (I used the whites from 12 large eggs)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp passionfruit extract
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter 16-cup capacity), preferably with removable bottom. If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment or wax paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 3/4 cup sugar. Place remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat egg whites at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth. Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form very soft, billowy mounds. With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and whites are shiny and form soft peaks. Add passionfruit extract and beat until just blended.
4. Place flour-sugar mixture in a sifter set over waxed paper. Sift flour-sugar mixture over egg whites about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold it in, using a large rubber spatula.
5. Sift any flour-sugar mixture that falls onto the paper back into the bowl with the whites.
6. Gently scrape batter into pan, smooth the top, and give pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
7. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back with pressed firmly, about 1 hour.
8. If cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert pan onto them. If not, invert pan over the neck of a bottle or funnel so that air can circulate all around it. Let the cake cool completely. To unmold, run a knife around edges, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake. Slide cake out of pan and cut the same way around removable bottom to release, or peel off parchment or wax paper, if used.
9.Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter. Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife.
passionfruit angel food cake featured with raspberry whipped cream and passionfruit gelée.
Having a birthday on Cinco de Mayo is pretty fantastic, especially if you are a high schooler in Spanish 4 porque hay una fiesta just for you! However, this does usually require that one bring their own specialized birthday treat. As the title of this post indicates, I made cinnamon caramel churro cupcakes! Here’s how:
Get some tortillas (white, whole wheat, whatever) and a cute mini cookie cutter…
…and stamp away!
Fry in 1/4-1/2″ or so of oil in a medium skillet.
And let them cool a bit before dumping them into a bowl of cinnamon sugar to coat.
You’re going to need cupcakes and a bit of thick caramel (dulce de leche!). I used the back of a chopstick to perforate my cupcakes and fill them, but I’m sure the back of a spoon handle/spoon would work equally well.
And when you’ve finished filling them, pipe a bit of cinnamon cream cheese frosting, place your churro star on top and you’re done!
Idea inspiration from The Curvy Carrot!
Happy Strawberry Month/Season/whatever this is! In honor of the seasonal strawberry boom, I chose to make this Japanese cheesecake. Having not actually baked much of anything (especially involving whipping egg whites), I am happy to say that this was a success! Lately, I’ve seen Japanese cheesecakes all around the blogosphere. There are yummy loaves (look at the crumb! so perfect), cute green tea versions, and swirly patriotic/psychedelic ones. In the end though, I decided to go with the one I first found here a couple years ago. Since I first saw that post, I’ve been meaning to make one, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.
In case you aren’t familiar with this style of cheesecake, it’s lighter than your traditional NY cheesecake and fluffier too, thanks to the whipped egg whites. The way I see it, you get all the fat without the feeling of guilt! 😉
As you can tell from the top left square, I was having some issues with my melted cream cheese. It was kinda clumpy and frustrating to deal with. Same with the addition of the flour mixture (even though it was sifted). It all worked out though with the addition of the egg yolks.
Yay fluffy egg whites!
Here’s the decorating process. Lightly sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries only!
Boom, strawberry explosion.
Makes a 9×13″
12 egg whites
12 egg yolks
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
100g butter (approx. 1 stick)
500g cream cheese (approx 2 1/8 bars)
200 ml milk (I used 2%)
120g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1. Cube the butter and cream cheese. Add to a saucepan with the milk and place over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter and cream cheese are melted. Allow this to cool before adding in the egg yolks, one at a time. At this point, preheat the oven to 375F or 160C.
2. Sift the cake flour and cornstarch together over the cream cheese mixture in 3 additions, stirring well after each.
3. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whip on medium speed, gradually pouring in the sugar. When the sugar has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
4. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cream cheese mixture until incorporated. (Check for streaks!)
5. Line a 9×13″ springform (or regular) pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture in.
6. Place your water bath* on the bottom rack of the oven and slide your cheesecake on the top rack.
7. Bake for about 1 hour (you may need more or less time depending on your oven) or until golden and set.
Note: Do not immediately remove the cheesecake. Let the cheesecake stand in the oven with the door ajar for about an hour. This will help prevent cracks and such. Also, I made this the night before, and after letting it sit covered and refrigerated overnight, it was easier to handle.
*I boil water for the water bath as the batter is being made so that there is a sufficient amount of steam circulating throughout the oven.
*disclaimer to those who know me in real life: no, I did not eat this cheesecake as it is comprised pretty much solely of dairy products. But everyone who did eat this enjoyed it immensely, and there were no leftovers.
Life has been crazy lately, to say the least. They say that junior year will do that to you though, so I suppose it’s to be expected. AP’s, PSAT, SAT I’s and II’s, ACT, college visits have all been done amidst the chaos that is high school. But it’s great; I love this insanity (kind of, mostly). One thing that I have missed however, is cooking. Not even baking necessarily, as is to be expected of one who has often found her identity as a baker. But cooking. I’ve never really classified myself as a chef. I mean, honestly, if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll likely resort to munchies (case in point: I just ate a handful of gluten-free crackers for lunch out of laziness). But when I feel inspired, it’s totally different.
A couple weeks ago, I went on a college visit to Case Western. The visit itself was blase; yet another college visit after which I left feeling neither more nor less fulfilled.
But on the way up, we stopped in Columbus for dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant (in America), Akai Hana. While waiting for a table, my dad and I went for a walk around the plaza and visited Tensuke Market. It’s a tiny little Japanese grocery, but I love everything about it; I love how the vegetables are so neatly packaged. I love how the unblemished kabocha are nicely sliced into halves and wrapped. I love that there are umeboshi plums and an entire refrigerated case dedicated to miso. But I digress. Back to my inspiration: the vegetables. Japanese Eggplants, to be specific. As a kid, I always hated eggplant. It was mushy and generally gross. Having somewhat grown up since then, I have found an extreme happiness in the refinery that is a Japanese eggplant.
They aren’t tough and gross as the ones found in American grocery stores can be. Instead, they cook up silky smooth without a single hint of the typical bitterness. For another, they’re only about 1.5-2″ in diameter which means really adorable rounds! And with that in mind, I created this baby eggplant parmigiana.
Baby Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 2 or 1
1 Japanese Eggplant
1 egg white, whipped till frothy
1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 t oregano, basil, garlic powder, black pepper
salt, if desired
1. Slice the eggplant very thinly- approximately 1/2 cm. This will give you super crispy-tender results.
2. Add herbs/salt/pepper to panko crumbs.
3. Dip the slices in egg white and then in panko crumbs, coating well.
4. In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat up 1/2″ or less of oil (these don’t need much; 1/2″ is really pushing it.)
5. When a small crumb of panko dropped into the oil begins to sizzle, place the rounds in, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
6. Let the rounds simmer until golden brown; then remove and drain.
Serve with a crusty baguette, homemade tomato sauce, and a balsamic-laced spinach salad topped with a parmesan crisp.
Here’s a quick dinner for busy weeknights- a homemade take on a certain cheesecake franchise’s “Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta.” I found the dish (at the restaurant) to be a bit lacking- it was pretty dry and bland. It had potential though- what with “Broccoli, Oven-Dried Tomato, Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, Artichoke, Kalamata Olives, Garlic, Pine Nuts and Parmesan.” Sorry if the recipe is a bit vague; I don’t really take notes on what I’ve added and such. On the plus side, it’s an excellent refrigerator-cleaning dish.
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1/4 c roasted red peppers, sliced or diced
1/2 c eggplant, cubed and roasted (or sauteed)
1/2 of a 7oz. jar marinated artichokes, halved/chopped/left whole (per your preference)
3 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), drained and chopped
2 T tomato paste
2 c whole wheat penne pasta, cooked and drained (reserve some of the pasta water)
2 T pesto paste
3 T roasted pine nuts
In a saucepan over med-high heat, saute the garlic in 2T olive oil until fragrant. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring constantly. Add in the rest of the veggies and stir until heated through. Stir in the tomato paste and reserved pasta water before tossing in the pasta. Remove from heat and stir in pesto. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and serve.