Chocolate Crinkles 2 Way

It's that time of the year again when I usually bake chocolate crinkles.

I have been doing this recipe from Allrecipes for years and it has never failed me yet. But, last year a friend sent me another chocolate crinkles recipe using a chocolate cake mix... interesting, right? Oh, and that recipe is by Paula Deen. :D

The Allrecipes cookies are so easy to make that I don't have to use a mixer. Paula Deen's recipe is called Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. It is also very easy (it uses a cake mix!) but I needed to use a mixer for this because I needed to cream the butter and cream cheese (yes, it has cream cheese!) together. The only thing that takes time for both recipes is the rolling of the cookies and covering them with the powdered sugar.

I made the cookies from Allrecipes first. I mixed the ingredients the night before, and baked two batches the next morning. It's also the perfect time to use my new cookie scoop. :D Here's what my cookies looked like:
Don't they look perfect?

After baking the cookies, I prepared the ingredients for Paula Deen's recipe. I still need to put the cream cheese and butter to room temperature. When everything's ready, I made the dough and placed them in the freezer so the dough will harden quicker.

When the last batch of the Allrecipes cookies were done, I baked one batch of Paula Deen's cookies (using the same cookie scoop of course!). Here's what Paula Deen's cookies looked like:

Aesthetics-wise, the original recipe were perfectly-domed and the powdered sugar coated the cookies perfectly too. :D Paula Deen's recipe were a bit flatter than I expected, and the powdered sugar stuck to the cookies (even before I baked them... and I even coated some twice).

Here they are side by side (L: Paula Deen's recipe; R: AllRecipe's recipe):

Texture-wise, they're both soft. Allrecipes' cookies were a bit cakey (bot not too much cake-like cakey). Paula Deen's cookies really are soft and gooey! I guess the Allrecipes' cookies were like that because of the baking powder. If I remember it right, I usually replace the baking powder with baking soda... or maybe ADD baking soda because I have a note in my recipe 1 tsp baking soda... and I have no idea why I forgot that! I usually made them soft and gooey and comes out a bit thinner than that. So this time I liked Paula Deen's texture.

UPDATE 19-Dec 2011 12:55PM: After posting this blog entry, I baked the remaining dough from the Paula Deen batch. Output: cakey too! And they're the same batch! Did I set the oven's temperature too high? Did I bake it too long? Or maybe because I left it in the fridge overnight, just like the Allrecipes batch! I don't know... but the main thing here is... they have the same texture now.

Allrecipes' cookies

Paula Deen's cookies

Taste-wise, I like them both. :D Although I think Paula Deen's cookies were a bit saltier. I also asked my #1 critic and my guinea pig... my husband. He liked the Allrecipes' cookies better. The chocolatey-ness will definitely depend on the cocoa powder (for the Allrecipes) and the chocolate cake mix (for Paula Deen) you use. I used Green and Blacks Cocoa - Organic Fair Trade 100% cocoa powder and Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix).

FYI, I used the same cookie scoop so they're all uniform in size (I think it's 1 tablespoon), used the same baking tray, baked at the same temperature (175ºC/350ºF) at the same period of time (10-12 minutes).

I only used half of the recipe in Allrecipes and I made a total of 20 cookies.

For Paula Deen's recipe, I made a total of 32 cookies.

I think you'll just have to make them to try them out yourselves. :D

Here are the links for the recipes:
Chocolate Crinkles from Allrecipes
Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies by Paula Deen

Happy baking and happy holidays!


My New Breakfast (And Sometimes Dessert, Too!)

I've seen them in the supermarket before, but only tried them recently. And I've been buying them since then.

What am I talking about? Yogurt. But not just any yogurt, it's Müller's corner yogurts.

It's called Corner yogurt because the yogurt is just plain (or sometimes flavored) yogurt, then the toppings and/or other flavorings are in another corner.

I just had this for my afternoon snack... Toffee Hoops.

They have other healthier flavors... but I like mine sweet! :D


Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nutella was on sale the other day, so I bought two jars. So now... what to do with all that Nutella? Bake, of course!

See those two cutie Nutella jars? Bought them in Italy during our holiday two months ago and I looove them! Each jar just contains 30g (the normal Nutella jar has 400g) and they're sooo adorably cute!

Anyway, I made some Nutella cookies before, but hubby and I felt something's missing... the chocolate chips. I can simply add chocolate chips to the last recipe I used, but decided to look and try out a different recipe completely.

I found one from justJENN which looks simply divine and chewy and perfect.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
from justJENN

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prep baking sheets with silpats (or baking paper).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, the sugar and the brown sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla until combined.
  4. Gradually add the flour until the mixture is combined. 
  5. Then mix in the chocolate chips and the Nutella. 
  6. Drop by Tablespoons onto the prepped baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. 
  7. Let cool on wire racks. When the cookies come out they will go from rounded balls to lovely flat cookie discs.

The Nutella was supposed to be swirled and not completely mixed... I think I over-mixed the Nutella to my cookies. It doesn't matter... they're still great!


My Craving For Silvanas

Being away from the Philippines made me crave a lot of food, that although I do not eat them often I still crave for them. One of the food/dessert that I've been craving for years, even when we were still living in Singapore, is silvanas.

Silvanas are frozen cookies/dessert wherein meringue-like cookies, usually made of cashew nuts, are sandwiched and covered with buttercream then coated with cake or cookie crumbs and sometimes ground cashew nuts. It is very similar to sans rival, cake version of silvanas.

I've been looking for a recipe for a looong time but can't find one. Then a few months ago, I asked my sister if she has a recipe of silvanas (or sans rival)... she's got both! And so I made some! :D

Now for the ingredients... Most of the ingredients I needed were easy to buy - eggs, sugar, butter. But the cashew nuts... I searched for weeks (or maybe even months)!

In the Philippines, I realized that cashew nuts are not that expensive and you can buy them in almost any supermarket. Here in London, it's more expensive than I thought it would be! But still the craving wins. I've checked three supermarkets and all of them sell salted (and even peppered) cashew nuts... and I need plain unsalted ones. I finally found one from a store that sells vitamins & supplements, they sell organic and healthy food. They even have banana chips... product of the Philippines. :D

And the baking begins... Here are some steps/notes while making silvanas:
  • The first thing I made was the buttercream. My sister gave me a recipe for Swiss buttercream frosting. But everything was in metric measurement, even the eggs! Although I can approximate the weight of an egg white, I still wanted a recipe wherein it says the number of eggs I need (not in grams/millilitres). So I searched for other Swiss buttercream recipes online and found one from Smitten Kitchen.
  • Next is the meringue cookies. I have two options for making them round and small,
    1. Pipe the meringue into perfect little circles
    2. Pour them in a tray and just cut them in circles after baking. 
    I opted for the second one, since I do not trust my piping skills. The only downside of the second option is the excess cookies left. In my case, I still used them as coating for the finished silvanas. :D
  • My meringue cookies getting ready for the oven

  • I decided to use my square pans for this instead of my rectangular ones because my rectangular pans kept on warping/popping/bending once inside the oven, and my square pans are all stable and steady.
  • After baking, I let them cool a bit then pried them out of those baking paper... they're stubborn and sticky! So next time I'll make sure to butter and flour them more generously.
  • After that I cut them into perfect circles. I used a cookie/biscuit cutter to form these circles then let them cool some more.
  • For the cookie rejects and the sides, I baked them some more to make them a bit crunchier, then ground them up. I them mixed those ground meringue cookies with some ground cashew nuts. That's what I used to coat the silvanas.
  • Once perfectly cool enough, I spread some buttercream on one cookie, sandwich it with another, then put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. I put mine in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the sandwich cookies from the refrigerator. Cover the sandwich with more buttercream, then coat with the ground meringue cookies mixed with cashew nuts. Put them back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
The finish product... yummy!
My lovely Silvana

Unfortunately I can't share the recipe for the meringue cookies. But for the Swiss buttercream frosting recipe, you can get them from Smitten Kitchen.


Today's Comic Strip: Shrimp & Sausage Kabobs

I haven't posted a comic strip for a looong time, and I've missed reading them. :D

Here's something that looks yummy and easy to do.

Cheap Thrills


These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

I loooove chocolates! I know I've said it before... I'll say it again! I loooove chocolates!

I am a fan of Hershey's! I like it more than other brands. When we moved to London, I thought I can easily buy them here... I was wrong! They are not easily available in groceries/supermarkets!

I've found some store selling Hershey's and other American sweets/candies.  I try to avoid these stores because I will surely buy something (more of some things) whenever I go there.

Here are a few of my favorites

You can make me eat the most expensive milk chocolate there is, but I always go back to Hershey's Milk Chocolate. My aunt sent me some a few weeks ago, their Easter themed products, shaped like a bunny. :D

Another new Hershey's product is the Hershey's Drops. It kinda looks like M&Ms, but without the candy coating and they're bigger. It comes in resealable packs. When hubby and I opened a pack that my mom sent me, we finished it in two days! :D

Let's not forget Hershey's Kisses! Same chocolate, just cuter. :D

Another Hershey's product - Reese's. I never liked the peanut butter-chocolate combination before, and I can't remember when I started loving this. All I know is I love it! My aunt also sent me some Reese's, their Easter themed product shaped like an egg. Whenever I eat one, I'd stop myself from eating more than three in one sitting.

Since I started liking Reese's, I love anything with a chocolate & peanut butter combination. These will include the Twix Peanut Butter bars and Oreo Peanut Butter Cakesters. This is the first time I bought these products and I love them! Good thing the store's very far away from our place. Otherwise I'd be there almost every week. haha!

Speaking of Oreo, I also like this! Good thing this is also available in groceries/supermarkets here. The cookies & cream combination is sooo perfect! I found this Oreo Brownies from the store and I love it! I'd buy one again the next time I go to the store.

Okay, now I'm hungry! S E L F - C O N T R O L.

FYI, this is not a sponsored post. It's all me!


Chocolate Mousse Cake

I was craving for the chocolate mousse cake from Red Ribbon, a bakery in the Philippines. Since there's no Red Ribbon here, I decided to try and make one myself - another baking challenge for me.

I found one recipe from Annie's Eats, called a Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake which she got from Cook's Illustrated. The cake is made of three layers - bottom layer is chocolate mousse cake or a flourless chocolate cake, middle layer is made of chocolate mousse, and the top layer is made of white chocolate mousse.

Red Ribbon's version is ALMOST the same with a slight difference - bottom layer is a plain chocolate cake, middle layer is chocolate mousse, and top layer is whipped cream.

I followed Annie's Eats recipe, except for the top layer. To make it more of Red Ribbon's version, instead of making white chocolate mousse for the top layer I just removed the white chocolate and just used whipped cream with a bit of gelatin. So I can't really say that this is a triple chocolate mousse cake because the top layer isn't made of chocolate. :D Check out Annie's Eats to see the recipe with the white chocolate mousse.

Hubby liked it! I love it! He even added some chocolate chips on top to make it more like Red Ribbon's.

The recipe below calls for a 9 inch (or 10 inch) springform pan. But since there were only two of us that will eat the whole cake, I cut the recipe in half and used my 6inch springform pan.

Chocolate Mousse Cake
adapted from Annie's Eats


For the bottom layer
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (plus extra for greasing the pan)
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
For the middle layer
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 5 tbsp. hot water
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
For the top layer
  • ¾ tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  1. To make the bottom layer, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚ F.  Combine the butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Stir occasionally until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks.  Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds.  Crumble half of the brown sugar into the mixing bowl with your fingers to remove any lumps.  Beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining brown sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining egg whites gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  3. Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges and the center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), about 14-18 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.  Do not remove the cake from the pan.  (If not making the second layer right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)
  4. To make the second layer, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl; set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.
  5. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds.  Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture until smooth.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Pour the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and tap gently on the counter 3 times to remove air bubbles.  Gently smooth the top with a spatula.  Wipe the inside edge of the pan to remove any drips.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.
  6. To make the top layer, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand at least 5 minutes to soften.  Bring ½ cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved.  Let stand about 1 minute.  Cool to room temperature, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Spoon the cream into the pan over the middle layer.  Smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours. 
  • The flourless cake will really shrink and collapse when it cools. It shrank so much that it pulled away from the sides. Next time I'll try making a normal chocolate cake for the bottom layer. From the picture below that the bottom layer's sides were already covered by the chocolate mousse layer, because there was too much space when I poured the chocolate mousse to the cake.
  • The bottom layer was too bitter for our taste. I think it was because I used 70% dark chocolate, and on top of that I added too much espresso powder. I used the Starbucks Via for this. Will adjust this next time.


Movie Date Turned Dinner Date

Hubby and I were suppose to go out to watch a movie after work. But laziness struck... for both of us! So we just went out for dinner instead.

We went to Canteen, a British restaurant in Canary Wharf. It's my first time there, hubby's second.

I don't know about their other branches but their branch in Canary Wharf is oh so spacious! And easily located near office buildings.

Hubby ordered Canteen 'Full English' Breakfast

and I ordered their roast for the day, Roast Lamb with mint sauce.

For dessert, we ordered scones with jam and clotted cream.

Just writing about all these food is making me hungry!


Olive Garden's Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

I've never made risotto before but has been always intrigued at how & what it tastes like. I finally found a perfect recipe online, Olive Garden's Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto.

Cooking this requires time, patience and arm power! The risotto gets thick and a bit harder to mix that I had to ask hubby's help to mix it for me every now and then.

I made this when we had our friends over for lunch. Rich, creamy, and yummy! There were four of us (plus 1 toddler) sharing this, but there were still a lot left (around 1/4 of my serving dish).

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
from Olive Garden

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ lbs large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  1. In a large pot or saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and leave on low heat until needed.
  2. In a separate, large nonstick pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and cook for approximately three minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add the rice, stir to coat thoroughly and cook for one minute. Next, add the white wine and stir until completely absorbed.
  4. Slowly add ½ cup of broth to the risotto and stir until completely absorbed. Repeat this step until 4 cups of broth have been added.
  5. Continue to stir the risotto frequently to avoid sticking.
  6. While the risotto is cooking, add the asparagus and shrimp to the remaining broth and cook for approximately two minutes or until the shrimp are pink in color.
  7. When finished, remove the asparagus and shrimp from the broth and add them to the pot with risotto.
  8. Continue to add ½ cup of broth at a time until desired creaminess is reached.
  9. Once the broth is absorbed, add butter, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and parsley to complete.


Chocolate Nutella Bread Pudding

I think I'm addicted to Nutella... all I can think of making are desserts with Nutella! And... here's another one: Chocolate Nutella Bread Pudding.

I've never made bread and butter pudding before, so this is my first time. A normal bread and butter pudding will have sliced stale bread soaked in cream, milk and eggs. To add flavor to that, some would any or all of the following: raisins or currants,  cinnamon & other spices, a bit of brandy (or any other alcohol), and of course the sugar. So where's the butter? You spread the butter on the bread before putting them in the pan, then pour the custard all over the bread.

A chocolate twist to the traditional bread and butter pudding would be Delia Smith's chocolate bread and butter pudding - the custard is mixed with melted chocolate, Nigella Lawson's chocolate chip bread pudding - chocolate chips were scattered all over the sliced bread, and Ainsley Harriott's Chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding - the custard is mixed with chocolate and hazelnut spread.

As you all know, hubby and I are chocolate lovers, so that's what I did and combined all of their recipes: I adapted Delia Smith's recipe by using her steps and technique in making her chocolate bread pudding; I adapted Nigella Lawson's recipe by adding chocolate chips to the bread pudding; I adapted Ainsley Harriott's recipe by using chocolate and hazelnut spread (a.k.a. Nutella).

Yes, I know... the vanilla's missing

For the Custard Mixture
  • 150 ml  whole milk
  • 150 ml  double cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T sugar
  • 3-4 T Nutella
For the Pudding
  • 50-100 g chocolate chips
  • 4 slices of stale bread
  • 50 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 
To serve (optional)
  • icing sugar, for sprinkling
  • double cream, for drizzling
  1. For the custard, place the milk, cream, Nutella and vanilla into a saucepan and bring to a scalding point, then take off the heat.
  2. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar together. Gradually add the cream mixture, whisking continuously.
  3. For the pudding, remove the sides of the bread. Cut each slice of bread into 4 triangles. Spread some butter on both sides of each bread. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Arrange the buttered bread in the dish. Sprinkle some chocolate chips over the bread, then pour over the custard mixture.
  4. Cover the dish with cling film and let it soak for an hour at room temperature. Put in the refrigerator and leave overnight (Delia Smith's suggestion is 24-48 hrs).
  5. Preheat oven to 170C. Remove the cling film from the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until set.
  6. Sprinkle some icing sugar over the bread pudding. Serve with a drizzle of double cream.

  • In Delia Smith's recipe, soak period should be 24-48 hours. I only soaked mine for 2-3 hours. :)
  • Before pouring the custard mixture, make sure it's cool enough so that the chocolate chips won't melt. Because that's what happened to me. You can see from the picture below that some of the chips are already melting and losing their form.
  • My pan is too deep and when I first covered it with cling film, the bread's floating above the custard. Plus some parts of the bread were not soaked in the custard (see photo above). So, in step 4, place something over the pudding before covering it with cling film so that the bread will not float and the custard mixture will be absorbed by the bread. In my case, I placed a plastic container.
  • I didn't sprinkle icing sugar over the bread pudding. Instead, I added a teaspoon or so of sugar in the double cream before drizzling it over my sliced bread pudding. 


Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)

I miss eating Singapore Chili Crab whenever I think of this

This is my third attempt at using yeast (fourth attempt is my previous post). When I made these, I can say that my kneading skills improved. I really kneaded the dough well, although I think I still did something wrong. Why, you say? The dough was still a bit sticky, and I really had a hard time rolling it because it keeps on sticking on my worktop.

Not only that... after steaming, they came out a bit yellowish! They're supposed to be white! Ghost white! Nevertheless, it still tastes like mantou, so it's okay. :) I will surely try this again, using the new yeast I bought.

Chinese Steamed Buns (Mantou)
from Almost Bourdain

  • 5 g instant dried yeast
  • 250 ml water
  • 500 g all purpose flour
  • 25 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  1. Dissolve dried yeast in water in a small bowl.
  2. Mix all ingredients in the bowl of electric mixer. With the dough hook attached with low speed, knead the dough until it's smooth, around 10 minutes. 
  3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and lay it on a slightly floured surface.
  4. Roll out the dough to a 70 cm x 15 cm rectangle. 
  5. Fold the dough into thirds - fold the dough into the center to make a square.
  6. Roll it out again to a 45 cm x 25 cm rectangle. 
  7. Brush the surface with water with a pastry brush. 
  8. Roll out the dough tightly from the longer edge to form a log. 
  9. Use a bread knife to slice the log into 8 pieces. 
  10. Cut 8 square pieces of baking paper, slightly larger than the bun.
  11. Lay the buns on the square baking papers. 
  12. Spread the buns on the steamer and pour some cold water in the bottom of the steamer. Cover the steamer, and let them rise for 20 minutes. (If you don't have a multi-layer steamer and you can't fit all the buns in your single layer steamer, cover the rest of buns in a slightly damp tea towel for them to rise.)  
  13. After the final rise, turn on the steamer and steam the buns for 20 minutes (15 minutes with preheated steamer) until it's puffed and cooked.
  14. Serve immediately or deep-fry them. You can freeze the leftover once they are completely cold. You can keep them in the freezer for 3 months. You can reheat them by steaming them for 2-3 minutes after removing them from the freezer.

  By the way, I only use half of the recipe above, but still cut it into 8 pieces, making smaller steamed buns.


Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf ... Yeast is My Best Friend!

 Okay, my blog entries are piling up! I have almost a dozen entries in queue... better start posting them or else...

So for now, let's start with this... cinnamon pull-apart loaf

I found this recipe a loooong time ago. Never tried making it because... I'm scared of yeast... sshhhh! Yes, using yeast scares me. I've baked a few that required yeast and they did not look up to par. The taste is as expected, but the texture... dense.

My first attempt at using yeast was when I made pan de sal, a Filipino version of a bread roll a year (or more) ago. It was dense! My sister, who loves making bread (she took up culinary arts), told me there's a possibility I didn't knead the dough well enough or I didn't proof the dough long enough. And I admit, I neither kneaded not proofed the dough well enough (I waited for more than an hour to proof the dough, but it didn't rise high enough).

The second was my second attempt with pan de sal. It was better, but still a bit dense. I kneaded it very well, and the dough rose in just a few minutes (I used a different recipe, given to me by my sister). But it still ended up a bit dense.

The third was mantou bread (will post recipe soon), way better than the first two yeast experiences. But... still dense. Although my sister told me it's normal for mantou to get dense once it gets cold. So I guess it was okay.

So, this pull-apart loaf was my fourth attempt. They were lovely! Soft.. fluffy... perfect!

So what did I change? The yeast, the kneading, the proofing... so I guess everything! hihihi :D And my sister told me to say and believe "yeast is my best friend" before I started baking. I guess the positive thinking worked!

As I said, I had this recipe for ages. It's from Leite's Culinaria. But the recipe was for a lemon-scented pull-apart coffee cake. I then searched specifically for a pull-apart loaf with cinnamon filling, and found one from The Knead for Speed. I still used the sweet yeast dough recipe from the first recipe I have, then just used the cinnamon filling from the second recipe. For the cream cheese topping, I used the first recipe, I just replaced the lemon juice with vanilla and a bit of cinnamon. So this is a mixture of the two recipes.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf


For the sweet yeast dough 
from Leite's Culinaria
  • About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the cinnamon filling 
from The Knead for Speed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the cream cheese icing 
adapted from Leite's Culinaria
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Make the sweet yeast dough
  1. Stir together 2 cups (9 ounces) of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]), about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract.
  2. Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.
  3. Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and center the dough on the flour. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step. While the dough is rising, make the filling.
Make the coffee cake
  1. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Or, lightly coat the pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a pastry brush spread the melted butter generously over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. (A pizza cutter is helpful here.) Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture over one of the buttered rectangles. Top with a second rectangle and sprinkle it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture. Repeat with the remaining dough rectangles and cinnamon mixture, ending with a stack of 5 rectangles. Work carefully when adding the crumbly cinnamon filling, or it will fall off when you have to lift the stacked pastry later.
  4. Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 by 2 inches. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. (While there is plenty of space on either side of the 6 strips width-wise in the pan, fitting the strips lengthwise is tight. But that’s fine because the spaces between the dough and the sides of the pan fill in during baking.) Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for baking.
  5. Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make the cream cheese icing
  1. In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, vigorously mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk, vanilla and cinnamon until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
  2. To remove the coffee cake from the pan, tilt and rotate the pan while gently tapping it on a counter to release the cake sides. Invert a wire rack on top of the coffee cake, invert the cake onto the rack, and carefully lift off the pan. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up, and remove the original rack.
  3. Slip a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch any drips from the icing. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the warm cake with the icing to glaze it. (Cover and refrigerate the leftover icing for another use. It will keep for up to 2 days.)
  4. Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature. To serve, you can pull apart the layers, or you can cut the cake into 1-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal with a long, serrated knife. If you decide to cut the cake, don’t attempt to cut it until it is almost completely cool.

  • I only have an 8x4inch loaf  pan. I cut the dough recipe in half so I can make it fit the pan. For the cinnamon filling and cream cheese icing, I still used the full recipe.
  • Since I only used half the dough recipe, I also adjusted the size of the dough when rolled and cut. I first measured the insides of the pan. With all the measuring and calculating done, and put into consideration that the dough will still rise once placed in the pan, I changed the width of each rectangle to 3inches and height to 2inches. I rolled the dough to 12in x 15in. The dough were cut to 12x3inch strips, then cut into 3x2inch rectangles. 
  • I was not generous enough when I buttered the dough and even when I sprinkled the cinnamon filling, that's why the cinnamon taste was not that strong, and the loaf was not separating well when pulled apart. So next time, be more generous!
  • Next time, I'll also try to roll the dough more nicely. When I rolled mine, it was not a perfect rectangle, pointed on some corners/sides.So the cut strips and/or rectangles were also not pretty. Some were triangle and some were too small.


Super-easy Nutella Brownies

World Nutella Day is just a few days from now. Can't wait for the new recipes people will be sharing. :)

I'm not joining the World Nutella Day recipe sharing thing, it's not my own recipe but this is just something worth sharing. I just love Nutella! And I've been looking for another yummy Nutella recipes for the past few days. And today I finally got one.

I saw the recipe from Savory Sweet Life. She got the recipe from the book Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just Four Ingredients. This means only one thing: the recipe only calls for four ingredients. Yes, you read that right, FOUR! (1)Egg, (2)Nutella, (3)Flour and (4)Hazernut.

The recipe will produce 12 mini cupcakes. I have the mini-cupcake pan but I ran out of the mini cupcake liners, so I opted to use the normal size ones. I just doubled the recipe to produce 12 cupcakes.

I'm not into nuts. Actually, I can survive if I add the hazelnuts I wouldn't mind it that much, but hubby's not a fan. For him, if it's chocolate, he wants it all chocolate. Plain and simple. So I was thinking of just replacing the hazelnuts with chocolate chips.

I baked the brownies for 15 minutes. While they were in the oven, I realized that I forgot something... the chocolate chips! Too late now, they were already halfway. So, I just finished baking them and voila! My 3-ingredient Nutella brownies!

Yummy of course! It kinda lacks a bit of chocolateyness, but it's still delicious. I'll just top each one with some Nutella. :)

That's the best-looking frosting/topping I've done in years!

Check out Savory Sweet Life's {4 Ingredients} Nutella Brownies for the recipe.


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