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

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies

Hello Everyone! So today’s recipe was inspired by a video I watched on YouTube from one of my favourite channels SORTED Food. This recipe is by far one of my new Christmas favourites and spot on because this year for Christmas planned on decorating our Christmas Tree with food items! We strung some popcorn and wrapping them around our tree. We have candy canes, Ferrero Rochers, Lindt chocolate, and sugar cookie wreaths lined up as our ornaments:

Edible Christmas Tree

I actually completely forgot about this recipe for Stained Glass Cookies until the night before Jialing and I had planned to make the cookies. It’s a good thing that we picked up the Turkey I preordered yesterday which meant that I could also pick up some boiled candy for this recipe! But I mean, does Australia have something against boiled sweets? Or did they just sell out or something? I swear I could not find any form of boiled sweets at the local supermarkets other than soothers or lozenges. Lucky for me that Woolies stocked their own home brand fruity sweets. But even so, the bag of candy only had 4 green sweets and half of the bag was filled with yellow sweets. So I ended up crushing some of the yellow with the green and added a few drops of green food colouring to it.

Initially I had planned to make my gingerbread cookies again for the tree, and since I have all the ingredients ready for some gingerbread making, I decided to do a little twist on their recipe and make Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies. Do check out the original recipe on their main channel: Stained Glass Cookie Decorations, or if you want to see a step-by-step write-up version of the recipe, check it out on their website: SORTED Food.

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies

The first batch of cookies turned out to be a massive fail that they only deserved a before picture. Can’t even bare the look of the result after. Lesson learned? Don’t bake these stained glass cookies with raising agents in them – just don’t. I think you may have a picture in your head how these first batch of cookies turned out:

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 12 MINS | MAKES 2 DOZEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups plain flour (plus 1/2 cup additional for rolling, if needed)
  • 85g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses (or honey in my case)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp ground dry ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Boiled Sweets (Hard Candy)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Add the unsalted butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle at medium-high speed until smooth; about 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Whisk to blend and then set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, molasses (or honey), and lemon juice.
  3. When the butter and sugar mixture is smooth, lower the speed of the mixer and add the wet ingredients. Then gently fold the dry ingredients until a dough starts to form.
  4. Divide the cookie dough in half. Wrap each half with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.
  5. Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut out your desired cookie shapes. Cut another shape out of the centre of each cookie and transfer the cookies to a lined baking tray.
  6. Chop up some boiled fruit sweets with a knife or by bashing them with a rolling pin whilst still in their wrappers, keeping the different colours separate. Sprinkle the chopped sweets into the hole in the centre of the cookies and bake them for 12 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool until completely cold before removing them from the lined baking tray. Ice them however you wish and thread a ribbon through the hole to hang your decorations. For these cookies, I made a simple vanilla icing to decorate with and edible silver balls.

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies

Gingerbread Stained Glass Cookies

Hope everyone had a merry festive Christmas!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com