Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

Hello Everyone! I’ve got a special post for you this evening as today marks 4 years of Amcarmen’s Kitchen! Don’t worry, I’ll still post a Breakfast Smoothie Bowl up for you guys most probably towards the end of the week since I already had the post and pictures prepared for it.

Anyway, technically I started this blog on April 16th, but it wasn’t until 2 days after on the 18th that I posted my very first recipe! You can check it out here: Cheesy Mushroom Omelette with Avocado Mint Greek Yoghurt & Wilted Spinach. Yes, you could say I was less talkative (wordy) for my first few posts, mainly because I had no clue on what else I could write about. When I started this blog out of pure procrastination way back in 2014 during my uni mid-semester break, I didn’t think I would be able to make it this far to be honest! I did slack behind a bit (a lot) towards the end of last year as it wasn’t easy juggling both a very demanding job, this blog, time for family and friends, and wanting some free time to myself as well. I have been doing a better job at keeping up so far, but it’s too early to tell to be honest, since I only just started getting back into this last month.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

I want to say that I promise that I will try to do better this year, but even I know that that’s a promise that I won’t be able to keep, so bear with me my dear followers! I know it is not in any way an obligation for me to share with you guys every single week, but I feel a sense of accomplishment for when I do so, and I don’t ever want this blog to drift away. It’s the only passion that I have going on for me right now because of my busy work schedule, and I don’t want all the hard work I’ve put into this blog for the past now coming 4 years to just become all for nothing.

With that being said, tonight I will be sharing a recipe that I tackled last November actually… For my 26th birthday! I never got around to posting it, and since I literally just got back from Hong Kong last night and had to report straight to work this morning, I’ve had no time to bake a new cake to celebrate Amcarmen’s Kitchen turning 4. So here’s my Pear & Walnut Cake that I drew inspiration from Olivia over on Liv for Cake. The cake itself was moist, not too sweet and had a lovely texture from the soft pear chunks and crunchy toasted walnuts. The honey buttercream was light and fluffy, beautifully contrasted by the deep red pears sitting atop a white-frosted cake.

(Apologies for not having an ingredient shot like how I normally do for almost all my recipe posts, but the photo didn’t turn out so great so I just decided not to post it)

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the pear and walnut cake

  • 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (plus extra to top)
  • 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely shredded
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the honey Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 4 large free range eggs, whites only
  • 360g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Optional: for the spiced red wine poached pears to top

METHOD

  1. Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears: Follow the recipe method provided in the link above.
  2. Pear and Walnut Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease and flour two 8-inch cake rounds and line with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the plain flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Next, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Reduce the speed and add the eggs in one at a time to allow to fully incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk altogether). Make sure to fully incorporate after each addition. Then, gently fold in the toasted walnuts and shredded pears, and divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.
  6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of both cakes come out mostly clean. Place the cakes on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool further.
  7. Honey Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until combined.* Place the bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approximately 3 minutes), or until it registers 70C/160F on a candy thermometre.
  8. Place the bowl back on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high speed until the meringue is stiff and has cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approximately 5 to 10 minutes).
  9. Switch to a paddle attachment and slowly add in the butter (cubed). Mix until smooth.** Add the honey and whip until smooth. Set aside.
  10. Assembly: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with approximately 1 cup of the buttercream and repeat with the remaining layer. Crumb coat the cake and place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.
  11. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake in a rustic manner. If desired, add toasted walnuts along the bottom and top, and place the poached pears on top. Secure pears in place with toothpicks and drizzle with the poaching syrup.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

* Ensure that there are NO traces of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won’t stiffen.

** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.

Pear & Walnut Cake with Spiced Red Wine Pears

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Yoghurt Cake

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Yoghurt Cake

Hello Everyone! I know the last two posts have been a bit of a downer; let’s just say I’m starting to feel a little bit better and more of myself this week so I hope that I will be back to my chirpy self soon. That aside, tonight’s recipe is actually one that I made just almost 2 months ago for a very special occasion; my sister’s 23rd birthday last August 23rd! We celebrated her birthday with a yummy all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ dinner at Seoul Garden followed by a surprise visit from a family friend which at that time we had offered to look after their two little boys for a week since their helper had to go back to the Philippines and they couldn’t find anyone else under short notice. Overall it was a fun evening spent with lots of food, cake, and little, but great company!

Happy 23rd Birthday Angela!

The cake that I decided to make for my sister was inspired by a recipe that I found online when I was researching ways that I could incorporate some of the ingredients from my blood pressure friendly list that I compiled at the beginning of the year. This recipe, from that list, features kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and fat-free yoghurt, all of which help lower your blood pressure. This cake is simple and easy to put together, yet is still delicious and guilt-free for when you reach out for a second heap of serving or three (or four)… Or you know the whole cake *cheeky grin* Not that I have done this myself before, you know, have a whole cake for no one else but just me, myself, and I. Anyway, onward with the recipe shall we? But before that, just a quick mention that the original recipe can be found over on SkinnyMs.

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Yoghurt Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | FREEZING TIME 3 HOURS | SERVES 10-12

INGREDIENTS

For the base

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely ground
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Honey graham crackers (enough to make about 1 cup of crumbs)

For the filling

  • 2 punnets (2 x 250g) fresh strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 1 tub (500g) fat free all natural yoghurt
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp honey

For the topping

  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced into thin circles
  • Sliced strawberries (about 2-3 from the punnet)
  • Extra honey graham cracker crumbs (optional)

PS: Please ignore the egg in the ingredient shot, I actually didn’t use it at all even though it was in the original recipe. I decided to go with a no-bake base and therefore omitted the egg from my recipe.

METHOD

  1. Prepare an 8.5-inch springform pan by lining the bases with baking paper and greasing the edges with a little bit of butter. Add all of the base ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Press half of the mixture over the base of the prepared pan and set aside in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes or until firm.
  2. In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, yoghurt, honey, and lime juice, whisking well until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Arrange half of the strawberry slices on top of the cooled crust then pour over half of the yoghurt mixture on top of the strawberries in an even layer.
  4. Repeat by adding the remaining half of the base over the top of the yoghurt mixture, arranging the strawberries slices, and the pouring the remaining half of the yoghurt mixture.
  5. Top the cake with the kiwi slices and strawberries slices before placing in freezer for about 3 hours or until completely frozen.
  6. Serve and enjoy! Tip: to cut, hold a knife under hot water for 10 seconds, dry and cut the frozen cake wile the knife is still warm!

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Yoghurt Cake

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Yoghurt Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon ‘Cheesecake’

Hello Everyone and a very happy first day of May! For those of you celebrating Labour Day, I hope you’re having a blast with your long weekend! Unfortunately, Labour Day isn’t celebrated in Brunei, so yes, I worked today *sad face*. Well, I’m actually not here out of my usual posting schedule to talk about Labour Day, in fact, I’m here for a completely different, and special occasion!

Happy Birthday Mom!
Everyday I wake up, I always have you to thank. I have your guidance, your food, your warmth, your love, and your heart: someone who loves me (and the other 2 troublemakers as well) unconditionally. I promise I’m not just saying this because it’s your birthday haha! Happiest of Birthdays Mom!

This year for my Mom’s birthday, I decided to whip up a Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon ‘Cheesecake’ after my huge success with my sister’s vegan ‘cheesecake’ back in August 2016. I’ve been wanting to try out more vegan ‘cheesecakes’ since then and now the opportunity has surfaced once again. This ‘cheesecake’ is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. Before we move on to the recipe, please check out the original over on Call Me Cupcake by Linda. Please take note that I have adjusted the quantities below to make an 8.5-inch round cake.

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake' Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | CHILL TIME min. 6 HOURS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the base

  • 1 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt

For the filling

  • 1 & 1/2 cups cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight then drained*
  • 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (50g) fresh or frozen (but thawed) blueberries
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the topping

  • Edible flowers**
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Shredded coconut

*Or soaked in very hot water for an hour if pressed for time

**To my Brunei followers if you could help me out, I don’t know where to find edible flowers here so what I usually do is just pick non-edible flowers from my garden, make sure they get a good wash and then use them only for photographic purposes.

METHOD

  1. Soak the roughly chopped dates in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl combined with the finely chopped almonds and salt. Using the back of a fork, mash and mix the ingredients together until a paste forms.
  2. Press the mixture into an 8-8.5 inch springform pan (and if you don’t have one, you may use a regular pie/cake tin covered with parchment paper). Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the ‘cheesecake’ filling.
  3. Put al the ingredients for the the filling in a blender and blend on low until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Pour the filling onto the crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
  4. Remove the cake from the pan and top with extra fresh blueberries, shredded coconut, and edible flowers. Leave to thaw in room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before cutting into it; you may run your knife under warm water and dry off to make a cleaner cut. Let each slice of cake thaw for a few more minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

So usually, it is a habit of mine to read through the recipe first either a few days before, or the night before just so that I have proper planning when it come to buying the ingredients needed to proceed with the recipe. This time around, I completely forgot about doing this – I already had the recipe bookmarked from probably the beginning of the year so I guess this is probably one of the reasons why it completely slipped my mind. Why is it important to read a recipe ahead of time? Well for starters, the cashew nuts in this recipe require to be soaked in water overnight. Did I soak mine overnight? Nope I didn’t. Luckily, this can be rectified as it does say in the original recipe that if you’re in a hurry, you can soak the cashew nuts in very hot water for an hour (which is what I did) hehe.

Also, I missed out on a crucial bit of information which I only saw earlier on this afternoon when I was writing this post: “makes 1 tiny cheesecake (12cm/5-inches)” No wonder my cheesecake looked short and just barely had enough crust to cover the whole bottom. My springform pan is 8.5-inches in size which mean that I could’ve easily just doubled the recipe *face palm* but oh well, I would’ve have had enough ingredients to double the recipe if I had noticed it early and that’s only because I probably wouldn’t have been bothered to drive out to the grocers again to pick up a few more ingredients.

Vegan No-bake Blueberry & Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Happy Birthday Mom!

So what did I learn tonight? READ THE RECIPE FIRST A DAY OR TWO AHEAD OF TIME!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake

Hello Everyone! Today is a very special day, and for two reasons too! Today is special because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal live (John 3:16 ESV). A very Happy Easter to all who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Besides today being Easter Sunday, today is also special because Amcarmen’s Kitchen turns 3! On this day 3 years ago I was sitting in my room, quite possibly still in my pyjamas at that time, blankly starting at my list of assignments to complete before the end of the Easter mid-semester break on my second-last semester of my degree. Knowing that I had so much to do in so little given time, I thought the only right thing to do at that moment was to take a nap and hopefully, magically, all my assignments would have been completed by the time I woke up from my nap… Well, that wasn’t what happened, but instead I decided to spontaneously delve into the world of WordPress, and *poof!* Kitchen Headquarters was born. Yes, Amcarmen’s Kitchen was previously known as Kitchen Headquarters in 2014 for a good year and a half before I did a whole rebranding in mid-2015.

As it has been for the past 2 years, I decided to make, not bake, a cake for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, and basically for my family and I to enjoy on behalf of my blog haha. I decided to try something new, while of course still sticking to the theme of using avocado in all my recipes for the month of April. Before we dive into today’s recipe, please do check the original by Sheilla on Chef Sheilla.

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | SETTING TIME 2 HOURS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the avocado lime cheesecake mixture

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 300ml crème fraîche
  • 1 large avocado, mashed
  • 1 sachet (7g) clear gelatin or agar-agar powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup ground digestive cookies
  • 1 lime, for garnishing

METHOD

  1. Combine the ground digestive cookies and melted butter in a medium-sized bowl and mix until moist crumbs form. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of a 10″ springform pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set.
  2. Take 100ml of the crème fraîche and combine it with the gelatin or agar-agar powder in a small saucepan. Stir for about 2 minutes until all the gelatin granules has dissolved. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes until the gelatin has completely melted. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Set aside.
  3. Add the mashed avocado, cream cheese, sugar, the remaining 200ml of crème fraîche, lime juice, and lime zest to a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix everything together until smooth and well-combined. Pour in the gelatin-cream mixture and continue to mix until creamy and smooth in texture.
  4. Pour the avocado lime cheesecake mixture into the prepared springform pan and smoothen the top. Chill in the freezer for at least two hours for it to set.
  5. Release the cheesecake from the springform pan and serve right away! Garnish the top with some lime slices and zest. Enjoy!

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake

The taste: amazing! The flavour of the avocado definitely shone through, and the hint of tangy flavour from the lime made the whole dessert refreshing in taste. The texture… Well let’s just say that it is supposed to be creamy and smooth, mine wasn’t as smooth as it could be. It has nothing to do with the original recipe; I think that I may have slipped up somewhere along the way. The obvious was probably that I was on the verge of over whipping the cheesecake mixture that the fresh cream started forming little clumps – I stopped before it severely over whipped. Also, I probably didn’t add enough gelatin to the cheesecake mixture so it didn’t quite set right. I only added half of the sachet in even though the original said ‘1 sachet’ – in my defense I didn’t know if Sheilla’s 1 sachet was the same quantity-wise as my 1 sachet. Oh well, I’ve adjusted the quantity of the gelatin in this recipe so hopefully the one listed above works!

Before I end tonight’s post, I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank first and foremost, my Mom who taught me how to cook. I also thank my other family members and friends who encouraged me to start up my blog because if it weren’t for them, Amcarmen’s Kitchen wouldn’t be here today, and I probably wouldn’t have continued pursuing my passion for cooking at home. Let’s face it, when I cook, I cook for my blog, and my family just so happens to be around to eat it after haha! Finally, to those who think I am just wasting my time on this, or assume that I work in a restaurant as a waitress because I didn’t actually go to culinary school to be able to work in a commercial/professional kitchen, take your negativity elsewhere. I have a degree in Design and I am working in the country’s leading Advertising Agency as a Creative Design and Events Management Executive, as well as a Copywriter. Thank you very much.

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake

No-bake Avocado Lime Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Chilli Chocolate & Cinnamon Cake

Chilli Chocolate & Cinnamon Cake

Hello Everyone! Well… Today has been quite an eventful day! For my followers who do not know, today marks my quarter of a century years young! 25 years of achievements and failures has brought me to where I am today.

Round 1 of Birthday Celebrations

My colleagues surprised me with a cake earlier this afternoon – quite funny as the whole morning they kept telling me not to expect anything because they didn’t have a surprise for me, nor did they have cake. By afternoon, my Manager called me to their department, asking me to help her with a design that I had helped her with earlier in the afternoon. Being the gullible person that I am, I went up to her, and that’s when the rest started singing Happy Birthday and brought out the cake (mini tower of cream puffs). So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the office who greeted me today – and for the surprise!

Round 2 of Birthday Celebrations

Round 2 of celebrations began earlier tonight as well, with my Mom, Sister, and my Godmother. We had Japanese for dinner and of course, the restaurant staff sang Happy Birthday to me as they brought out the cake that I had baked for myself for my birthday – which is tonight’s recipe! Original recipe can be found over on Dish.

Dense, rich and moist with a little hint of chilli and cinnamon – everything a great chocolate cake should be, and even more delicious when served with candid pepitas. — Claire Aldous.

Chilli Chocolate & Cinnamon Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 20-25 MINS | SERVES 10-12

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 200g Lindt Chilli Chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional if you’d like a little more kick to your chilli chocolate cake)

For the glaze:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100ml thickened cream

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F or gas mark 3).
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals and stirring until the butter and chocolate has melted. Once melted, stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, setting aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Once cooled, gradually stir in the eggs and then fold in the flour, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Pour into a buttered cake tin and smoothen the top.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the centre of the cake is set but not too firm. Once done, transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely in the tin.
  5. While the cake is cooling down, get started on the glaze by melting the dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Once the chocolate has melted, slowly add in the cream, stirring gently. Remove from the heat.
  6. Transfer the cake to a dish and pour the glass over. Finish with a light dust of confectioners’ sugar and enjoy with family and friends!

Chilli Chocolate & Cinnamon Cake

Chilli Chocolate & Cinnamon Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats

Happy Birthday Blacky!

Hello Everyone! Wow I’m definitely on a roll here with the recipes – posting 3 back-to-back for this week! Well, the only reason for that is just because two very special days just happened to sandwich my normal Wednesday post schedule. So yes, today is indeed another special day and having read the title of this recipe, you already know who’s special day it is. Of course it is none other than my not so baby boy anymore, Blacky! Happy 6th Birthday to my Mutt Blacky, or as my friends have nicknamed him, Mr. Black and Cinnabon (because of his cinnamon scroll-like tail).

Last year a made him a batch of bacon doggie treats, and since the theme of my blog for this month is vegan, I decided to make him a healthy treat this time ’round. Okay, okay. I know. This isn’t vegan treat, but I realised a little bit too late when I was photographing the ingredients for this recipe. I guess I could’ve easily omitted the eggs from the recipe – but would that have somehow ruined the recipe altogether? Or is there a substitute for the eggs that I could’ve used instead? Any vegans out there please let me know in the comments section below. Thank you 🙂

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats

That aside, I know Blacky hates his vegetables. Whenever we feed him some soup with meat, veggies, and rice, he is able to pick out anything green that he sees in his bowl. I thought that maybe by hiding some greens into a doggie treat, he wouldn’t notice and eat them. I guess I was wrong…ish. He still ate the treat, but it looked like he was being very picky in the beginning by just playing around with them, but not actually eating them. Then after a few hours, he’d eat half of the biscuit. Then by the end of the day, once I’m home from work, he’d show off and eat the rest of them and made sure that I saw him eating it. What a clever and devilish dog he is haha!

Once again, Happy Birthday Blacky! Original recipe can be found over on Damn Delicious.

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-8 MINS | COOKING TIME min. 40 MINS | SERVES 75 BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g pumpkin, steamed and then puréed*
  • 3 cups wholewheat flour, or more as needed
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 zucchini, shredded

*225g of pumpkin should be able to make 1 cup of cooled pumpkin purée which is needed for this recipe

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and then set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cooled pumpkin purée, peanut butter, and eggs on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the old fashioned oats and 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky. Then, add in the carrot, zucchini, and spinach, beating just until incorporated.
  4. Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.**
  6. Let cool completely. Makes about 75 biscuits.***

**Baking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the treats.
***Serving size will also vary depending on the desired shapes and cookie cutters used.

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats

Spinach, Carrot, and Zucchini Dog Treats

So just like last year, I decided to try the biscuits for myself. Of course, they tasted really bland to me because I didn’t add any sugar or anything to sweeten it up a bit. I gave some to my Mom and sister to try, and my Mom actually liked them. Because I ended up making around 75 biscuits, I asked my Mom if I could give them to a colleague of mine who also has a dog. To which my Mom replied, “No, I will eat them” *crying laughing face emoji* Well, at least I know someone in the house will finish them if Blacky can’t! Hahaha!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan ‘Cheesecake’

Hello Everyone! Yes I am aware that it is indeed Tuesday and not a Wednesday – but today is a special day which indefinitely deserves a special post too! Today is the middle child’s 22nd Birthday, and since last year (which was the year I came back to Brunei) I’ve been baking cakes for the family. It was the better solution to, I guess, wanting a specific flavour for an affordable price. I cannot stress enough house much I hate store bought cakes – mainly because of their icing; too thick, too sweet, just… Ugh. I’m not much of a baker since I’m more into savoury foods, but I guess baking a cake 4 times a year (at minimum) isn’t too stressful and helps me practice.

Happy 22nd Birthday Angela!
Happy 22nd Birthday Angela! – early dinner at Balkony today after work. The cake not only looked amazing, but it tasted so good as well! I will definitely try out more no bake vegan ‘cheesecakes’ in the upcoming months – maybe for my Birthday in November!

Today’s recipe shall keep in theme with the theme for this month on Amcarmen’s Kitchen, which is, if you haven’t been following, Yes Ve Gan! A month of tribute to animal-free dishes that are sure to tickle your tummies from a different perspective. Before I had the idea of coming up with an animal-free theme for the blog, I wanted to bake a strawberry shortcake for my sister. I then only just changed my mind earlier last week to do a No Bake Strawberry & Coconut ‘Cheesecake’ for her after being inspired and reminded of the cake that Miao made back in March when we gathered for a dinner and catch up session with friends in Singapore. I think I mentioned in the beginning of the month in a post that it was a pretty darn delicious cake and it made me crave for more! So I thought to myself, why do I give a raw vegan cake a try since, like Miao at that time, I have never done one before! It’s super easy to make and you can substitute the strawberries out for your favourites berries such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or boysenberries.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

This ‘cheesecake’ is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free! The recipe makes for one 8″ sized cake, but of course you can always double the recipe to make a bigger one if you wish! Mind you, for those who have not read in an earlier post this month, I haven’t stopped eating animals, dairy, or eggs altogether. I still eat my meat, but not as often as I used to, and I still have my daily dose of cow’s milk in the mornings  to accompany my breakfast. I don’t see myself going completely vegan in the next couple of years – but who knows, that may change over time when I make that shift to loving all animals, and most importantly for a healthier lifestyle. For now, it is something that I want to look into and slowly add this way of eating into my daily diet.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake' Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | FREEZE TIME min. 4 HOURS* | SERVES 8-10

*preferably overnight to ensure that the cake is set.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 250g medjool dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight* and drained
  • 1 punnet (25g) fresh or frozen (but thawed) strawberries
  • 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, liquified
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Zest of 1 small lemon

For the topping

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Shredded coconut
  • Edible flowers (optional)

*if you are a bit pressed for time, or decided to make your cake today and hadn’t realised that you needed to soak your cashews overnight, then you can soak them in very hot water for about an hour instead of overnight.

METHOD

  1. Crust: Soak the pitted medjool dates in warm water for about 15-20 minutes and then drain. Put almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the dates and a pinch of salt, and pulse until a paste forms.
  2. Press mixture into an 8-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a springform pan, use a pie tin or a regular cake pan covered with baking paper). Place the crusted pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  3. Filling: Put all ingredients for the filling in a blender and blend on low until mixture is as smooth as possible. Pour the filling into the crust, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove the cake from the pan and leave to thaw in room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Top with fresh strawberries, shredded coconut, and edible flowers.

Tip: Run your knife under warm water (and dry off) before cutting, to make a cleaner cut. Let each piece thaw for a few more minutes before serving.

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

No Bake Strawberry & Coconut Vegan 'Cheesecake'

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Moist Mango Pound Cake

Moist Mango Pound Cake

Moist Mango Pound Cake

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am aware that it is a Sunday and it’s not my regular posting day. It’s just that today is a very special day because today I would like to wish the Happiest of Birthdays to the woman I call my Mother. My greatest wish is to grow up and become just like you. Thank you for all of your strength, advice, and of course your impeccable cooking skills that has helped me become the person I am today. Love you ❤

Happy Birthday Mama G 2016
My Mom & I at Bondi Beach, Bondi, NSW last June 2015

For the Month of May, I thought about sharing recipes, both savoury & sweet, that include mangoes since they have been in season since last month – but I will get into this theme for Wednesday’s post. Since we’re praising mangoes, I decided to bake a Moist Mango Pound Cake for my Mom’s 56th Birthday today. It’s actually not as grand as the cakes I’ve made for past birthdays, and it’s only because I wanted something quick and simple, yet still very tasteful since I had work commitments earlier on the day. I woke up early this morning to have breakfast and then got cracking on baking the cake before I took my shower and headed out to the venue for work. So I guess it was safe to say that I had a very hectic and busy morning, a lazy afternoon, and a night at Capers Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.

Moist Mango Pound Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 15 MINS | SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (or use heavy cream if not available)
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Flesh of 2-3 mangoes, puréed* (yielding about 3/4 cups)
  • Fresh mangoes, diced
  • Confectioners’ sugar

*Purée your mangoes by adding them to a blender with about a tablespoon of water to ease the blending process. Pulse until smooth.

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 170C (325F or gas mark 3). Prepare a 7″ round pan (or square) by rubbing some butter and flour on the base and sides of the pan. Set aside.
  2. Sift the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until it turns pale yellow in colour – it should be creamy and not gritty in texture (sugar fully dissolved).
  4. Add in one egg at a time, beating on low well after each addition. Then add in the coconut cream, vanilla extract, and mango purée. Continue beating on medium for a good 4 minutes or until the mixture is creamy and has good volume.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, folding it in gently after each addition. Be careful as to not over mix your batter, use gentle strokes until the flour is just moistened.
  6. Transfer the batter to your prepares baking pan and bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes or until the cake is golden brown in colour and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Loosen the edges with a knife and transfer the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool down. Once cooled, top your cake with some fresh diced mango and some confectioners’ sugar. Serve and enjoy!

Moist Mango Pound Cake

Moist Mango Pound Cake

Moist Mango Pound Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Hello Everyone! If you’ve been following my blog from the very beginning, then you’ll know that today is a very special day indeed! My blog officially turns 2 years old today! My how time has flown by so quickly! I’m sure most of you know the story of how I came around to starting up my blog – but for those new comers out there, here is the story again:

I started up this food blog exactly two years ago during spring break, and instead of slaving away on the many assignments/projects I had at that time, I decided to spontaneously start up a blog, out of pure procrastination really. I wasn’t sure of how long I’d be able to keep up with this blog (because I have tried many times and failed), but I am happy that I am able to finally keep one up and running, even though I’m only posting once a week instead of 3 times a week like before I started working. on several occasions, I’d ask my Mom, “What would happen if I didn’t have a food blog?” And she would always reply the same way every time I asked her, “You’d be the most boring person ever.” Haha. Thanks. I definitely have her to thank for teaching me how to cook; well actually I’d like to say thanks to the fact that I got into a university away from home and family as it not only taught me how to be independent, it also showed me how bad I was at cooking for myself during my first year at uni.

Like last year, to celebrate my blog turning 2 today, I decided to bake a cake for this occasion. I actually did a test bake two weeks ago since this is the first time I was following this recipe – I didn’t want to fail miserably and have nothing to post for this special occasion. I’m glad I did that test bake because there was a major backfire *oops*. Well, it wasn’t such a huge backfire, but it was because it was a significant part of what binds the cake together so without it, the cake would’ve been pretty dry. I’m talking about the rose-scented cream here. The first try, I actually bought the wrong type of thickened cream – I bought the light thickened cream only because that’s what I saw on the shelf. So I whipped it for a good, I don’t know, probably a total of 15-20 minutes or so and it what not whipping at all. Then I realised it was because it was light cream which does have enough fat content to fully whip. So that was a fail, and by that time I was quite tired and frustrated over the cream that I decided to just leave it and try again the following week.

The second time around, I bought regular thickened cream and it whipped fine – too fine that I had over-whipped it and it became quite clumpy. You can actually rescue over-whipped cream by adding more cream, but at that time, I had poured the whole bottle of cream into the mixer. So what did I do? I had to ask my mom to drive me to the grocers again to buy more cream, and finally after the third attempt with this rose-scented cream, I managed to get it right! I didn’t want to waste the other batch of over-whipped cream and so I kept whipping it until it started to come together as homemade butter. After I had whipped it into butter, I had a taste of it and then realised that I had just made sweet rose-scented butter – which in my opinion was a bit ew since I’ve never tasted sweet butter with a hint of rose flavour in it. Haha! So yeah.

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Anyway, I took inspiration to bake this cake from one that I tried from Black Star Pastry when I was still living in Sydney. Since it’s debut into the world of pastries, it is known to be the most Instagrammed cake.  Also, the original recipes uses silvered pistachios, but I used pepitas instead. The only reason was that pistachios here for some reason are always brown, like not even green, and I didn’t want to put something brown to top of my beautiful cake so I went for green pepitas instead. Another thing, I couldn’t find rose petals anywhere here in Brunei. So, I decided to go through boxes of teas to read their labels, looking for any that had rose petals in them. I was lucky that one of the teas that I brought home from Sydney last year had rose petals in them!

Don’t forget to check out the recipe that I followed to make this cake over on Gourmet Traveller. You can get creative and make a cake in any shape you want. When I had this at Black Star Pastry, it was square in shape and probably no bigger than about 8cm x 8cm x 8cm in size (maybe). I made mine into round cakes (about 3 in total with this recipe) with a diameter of about 7.5cm.

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS* | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 3

*plus 1-2 hours of chilling time

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 seedless red grapes, sliced thinly
  • 250g seedless watermelon, about 0.5cm thick slices
  • 1 punnet (125g) strawberries, halved
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp pepitas
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals

For the Almond Dacquoise

  • egg whites
  • 2/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup pure icing sugar, sieved
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar

For the Rose-scented Cream

  • 100ml thickened cream
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp rosewater

METHOD

  1. For the almond dacquoise: Preheat oven to 200C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, and then using a round cutter, cut the dacquoise into 6 circles.
  2. For the watermelon layer: Cut the watermelon into half a centimetre thick rounds using the same cutter used to cut the dacquoise. Arrange watermelon rounds in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
  3. For the rose-scented cream: Whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk!!!).
  4. Assembly: Staring with a watermelon slice as your base, spread about a tablespoon and a half of rose cream evenly over  it and then top with a layer of dacquoise. Scatter a pinch of almond meal and then top with more cream. Repeat, and then top of the last dacquoise layer with a bit of cream to hold the strawberry chunks, slices of grapes, and other toppings. Refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
  5. Serve and enjoy chilled!

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

Strawberry & Watermelon Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Salted Caramel Popcorn Layered Cake

Salted Caramel Popcorn Layered Cake

Hello Everyone! Today is a special day, and that special day is my birthday! For those who want to know, I am 24 years young today, and another year wider, I mean, wiser, but not another year taller unfortunately. It’s been 4 years since I last celebrated my birthday in Brunei with my family, and friends I grew up and went to high school with. It’s been that long because for the past 4 years I’ve spent my birthday’s in Australia, with my friends from uni. I didn’t really plan anything special, I just organised a dinner party at Villa Mauri last Friday night with some friends; exchanging conversations, laughter, and of course, no gathering is complete without some dirty talk! We’ve all not changed one bit 🙂 I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank those who came that night, and also thank everyone else who has greeted me so far. I am so blessed to have family and friends from all over sending love my way. I know, that sounded a bit cheesy.

24th Birthday Celebrations
Birthday with my high school friends at Villa Mauri (November 6th, 2015)

24th Birthday Celebrations
Birthday with my work friends at 
Patisserie (November 9th, 2015)

I baked this cake yesterday afternoon for my birthday dinner tonight with my mom and my sister. Seriously, I cannot stress out how much I hate frosting – it take so bloody long for me to get it perfect. Well, not so much perfect, but for me to get it to cover the cake. I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong or I should blame the climate, but the buttercream is runny to begin with, so I put it in the freezer to stiffen up a bit before I frost. Then when I start frosting, it quickly becomes runny again to the point that I have to keep placing the cake in and out of the freezer multiple times before I can get the frosting to somewhat cover the cake. But anyway, after much frustration on the eve of my birthday, I managed to get a decent looking cake up I guess (so over it right now – so over baking cakes altogether).

Actually, I think I know the reason (maybe not really) why my frosting was runny. I had a look at the ingredients photo that I took and saw that I had icing sugar in it. At first, I thought that that might’ve been the reason, but when I looked at the original recipe, there was no sign of icing sugar. So why did my frosting go wrong?! 😦 Not enough butter?

24th Birthday Celebrations
Birthday with my family at home (November 9th 2015)

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make a cake like this for a while; as in the whole salted caramel with caramel popcorn on top kind of cake. I was blown away when I came across it over on La Pêche Fraîche – so beautiful and well photographed. So don’t forget to check out the original recipe over on her blog; she has adapted the different components to making this cake from various recipes (all links have been acknowledged below). Plus, her’s looks much more beautiful, and somehow taller than my cake *cries*.

Salted Caramel Popcorn Layered Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 50-55 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the yellow butter cake (adapted from Joy of Baking)

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 4 large free range egg yolks
  • 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 & 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the salted caramel (adapted from FoodSwoon)

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream (adapted from FoodSwoon)

  • 350g unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • Half of a batch of salted caramel, cooled, the rest reserved for drizzling (see recipe below)

For the salted caramel popcorn (adapted from the Kitchn)

  • Popped popcorn from about 1 & 1/2 bags of popcorn
  • 130 grams unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Big pinch salt, plus a little for sprinkling

METHOD

  1. Yellow Butter Cake:
    • Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease 2 x 8.5-inch pans with a little bit of butter.
    • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the plain flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
    • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes altogether. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the egg yolks in and beat for a further 2 minutes. Add in the milk and vanilla, stirring gently to combine.
    • Add in the dry ingredients all at once, and stir gently until the batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
    • Set the cakes aside to cool down completely before frosting.
  2. Salted Caramel:
    • Heat the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt together over medium-low in a small saucepan . Whisk at the beginning until they dissolve. Once dissolved, leave the mixture to caramelise into an amber colour.
    • Once amber, remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter and cream. Be careful of any splattering that may occur. Whisk until completely smooth.
    • Set aside to cool down before using it.
  3. Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream:
    • Place the water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat on low until it reaches to about 115C/240F.
    • Meanwhile, as your sugar+water mixture is slowly heating up, place the egg whites in a large bowl and start to beat using a handheld electric mixer. Beat the eggs until soft peaks start to form. Then, slowly stream the water+sugar syrup into the egg whites with the mixer still going.
    • Beat the meringue until cooled to about body temperature, and then beat in the butter about 2 tablespoons (30g) at a time. Continue whipping the buttercream until it is silky before adding half of the caramel mixture in.
    • Set aside in the fridge until it is time to frost your cake.
  4. Salted Caramel Popcorn:
    • Preheat oven to 130C (250F or gas mark 1/2) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
    • Place the popcorn in a big bowl and make sure not to include any unpinned kernels.
    • In a small saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, and salt until they begin to caramelise. Whisk well to combine, and then add in the baking soda. Quickly pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss well to coat.
    • Scrape the popcorn  out onto the baking tray and lightly sprinkle with a touch of salt. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the caramel is completely dry and crunchy. Once done, set aside.
  5. Assembly:
    • Stack your cake on a cake stand and frost it with the buttercream. Drizzle the remaining caramel on the edges of the cake and then top the cake with a mountain of caramel popcorn!
    • Serve, share, and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Popcorn Layered Cake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com