Archive of ‘Dessert’ category

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi

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These are amazing. Strawberries, wrapped in red bean paste (azuki bean paste), wrapped in mochi. It sounds hard, but its like super duper duper easy. Its like wrapping presents, strawberry presents resembling pretty little snowballs. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized strawberries
  • 180g Cooked red beans and 2 Tbsp Canola oil OR 150g red bean paste
  • 100g glutinous rice flour OR 95g Mochiko rice flour and 5g corn starch
  • 20g sugar (preferably caster sugar)
  • 150ml water
  • 25g corn starch for dusting

Non-Food things:

  • Fine sieve
  • Scale
  • Rubber spatula
  • Large bowl
  • Shallow pan

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Okay, I started by turning my cooked red beans into red bean paste. I asked my local Taiwanese tea shop for some cooked red beans because I didn’t want to bother cooking them myself. By the time I decide I need red beans or red bean paste, I have no patience to soak and cook a batch of red beans. So I got about some in a to-go cup. Yay for shortcuts.

I poured the red beans into a fine sieve and smashing the red beans through with the back of a spoon. I wanted to keep the red bean skins out of the paste so I’d get a smooth paste. I used the same spoon to scrape the paste off the back of the sieve and collected it in a small bowl.

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This paste comes out too liquidy to use for wrapping strawberries, so to create true red bean paste, fried up the paste in a pan using canola oil. This helps evaporate the liquid and works some fat into paste to help it solidify.

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I fried it up until the red bean resembled a runny-ish paste. Since its super hot, it won’t solidfy quite yet but it will look more paste-y than before frying. I transferred the hot paste back into the bowl, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it sit in the freezer to cool.

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While the red bean paste was chilling in the freezer, I prepped the strawberries. I washed and cut off the leafy stuff off the tops of the strawberries. I just cut it off with a knife to get a flat base. I also patted them as dry as possible with a paper towel.

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These kinda made me want to eat them. I held out for something better. I pulled the red bean paste out of the freezer after about 45 minutes, mixed it up, and divided it into 6 equal blobs about 20g each.

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Next, I took one blog and put it in my hand and smashed it into a round pancake about the size of my hand.

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I placed the strawberry in the center and wrapped the red bean up around the sides of the strawberry, making sure to leave the tip of the strawberry uncovered.

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It takes some finagling but just work the paste around the strawberry with the palms of your hands to try and get even coverage around the strawberry.

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I set these aside (don’t they kinda look like chocolate dipped strawberries?) and began working on the mochi. This is way less daunting than you think and its done in the microwave. Its crazy how easy this is.

I didn’t have glutinous rice flour, but I had rice flour (Mochiko) on hand. After some Googling, I found out that you can add some corn starch to make it glutinous rice flour, but had no instructions on what the ratio should be. How annoying. I guessed and went with 5g of cornstarch to 95g of rice flour. It worked. Lucky me.

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Okay, to this mixture, I added 20g of caster sugar. I opted for caster sugar or baking sugar because I wanted to make sure the mochi wouldn’t be grainy from regular granulated sugar. I used a fork (because I have no whisk) and mixed up all the ingredients.

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Tip: I do this on my scale (zero-ing out the scale between ingredients) and I love doing it this way. WAY less measuring cups and its so easy to just pour ingredients in. Also, you get WAY more accurate measurements.

Next, I added the water in three parts. Usually I’m pretty impatient about this and end up dumping all the liquid in at once, but for some reason I did it in three parts like the recipe said and I’m glad I did. Why? Because you get tons of lumpies and this helps you work in the liquid and minimizing lumpies. Here’s a series of water additions:

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Mix thoroughly between additions. Look! No lumpies!

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This next part was super weird to me when I read the instructions. Trust me. It works. Just go with it.

I took a wet paper towel (wrung out for extra water) and placed it over the bowl. I popped it into the microwave on high for 60 seconds.

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I uncovered the mixture, and mixed it up thoroughly with a spatula I dipped in water. Its significantly gooey-er so the wet spatula keep sit from sticking.

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After thoroughly mixing, I recovered it with the wet paper towel and put it back into the microwave for another 60 seconds on high.

It comes out even gooey-er than before.

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Again, dip the spatula in water and mix it up. I had to re-wet my paper towel this time around. I covered the bowl and popped it back into the microwave, only for 30 seconds on high this time.

Voila. Mochi.

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I transferred the mochi from the bowl onto a plate dusted with corn starch and rolled the ball in it to make it unsticky. Sticky mochi is SUPER hard to work with. You will see. I also divided the big blob up into 6 pieces. I eyeballed this.

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I covered my hand with corn starch and picked up a blog. You might need to re-dust your hand with cornstarch. I did. This stuff is SOOOO sticky. I stretched the mochi out into a circle-ish shape and placed the red bean paste covered strawberry in the center.

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I picked up one side of the mochi and stretched it over the tip of the strawberry.

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Repeat until the strawberry is covered in mochi. I pinched all the pieces together at the top. This takes some practice, but it gets easier.

Tip: Keep your hands and everything dusted in cornstarch at all times. Sticky mochi leads to disaster.

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Here’s what it looks like cut open.

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It was SO good. Om nom nom nom.

Egg Tarts

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I love going to dim sum, particularly because I can’t wait for dessert: egg tarts (dan ta). I can’t resist the buttery, flaky crust with the sweet jello-y custard filling inside. The worst thing that could ever happen on a trip to dim sum is not getting any egg tarts! Happened to me a few weeks ago, so I started searching for a recipe so I wouldn’t be a slave to weekend dim sum restaurants and the crowds. I made a few adjustments to the recipe I found and here’s what I used:

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour + 1/4 cup for flouring surfaces
  • 1 3/4 Sticks of Cold Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Egg Yolks (egg whites used for custard filling)
  • 1/4 cup  Cold Water

Custard Filling:

  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites (egg yolks used in crust)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Non-Food:

I started with the pastry crust which requires two types of dough, a butter-based dough and a water-based dough. This gives it the layered flaky crust that is SO worth it. To start the butter dough, I cut the cold (super important that its cold!!!) butter into cubes. Sometimes I like to use European butter because its even fattier than regular. I placed that into the food processor with 1 cup of All-Purpose flour and processed until it became a solid pasty mass of goop that somewhat resembled dough.

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I scooped the contents out of the food processor onto plastic wrap and wrapped it up and molded it into a 1- 1-1/2″ square shape and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 min.

Next, I washed out the food processor to start on the water-based dough. I started by separating two eggs and placing the yolks into the food processor and reserving the whites for the custard filling later. Next, I added 1/4 cup of ice cold water and 1 cup of All-Purpose flour. I processed this until it formed a ball of dough.

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If the dough doesn’t come together and looks like a meal-y texture, add 1/2 a tsp of water at a time until it comes together into a dough. Since the weather here in LA is SUPER dry, I had to add about 2 extra tsp of water.

Once the dough formed, I floured a cutting board to roll out the water-based dough about 1/4″ thick.

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I took the butter-based dough square and placed it in the center of the rolled out water-based dough and folded the sides of the water-based dough around the square, forming a nice little package.

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I turned the folded side down and rolled the whole thing out into a rectangular shape. I folded the dough into thirds to start layering the two different doughs to form the flaky pastry. I placed the folded dough into plastic wrap and placed it into the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

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Note: It is super important to ensure the pastry stays cold, otherwise the layers melt into each other and the dough won’t be flaky anymore!

After 15 minutes in the fridge, I removed the dough and rolled it out again. This time, I folded the two sides of the dough towards the center, then folded the entire thing in half to form 4 layers. I placed the dough back into the plastic wrap and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.

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Next, I removed the dough from the fridge, rolled out the dough, folded the dough into fourths again. I brought the two sides into the center then folded the whole thing in half. I placed the dough back into the fridge to chill for another 15 minutes.

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Note: Make sure to flour the cutting board and rolling pin to make sure the dough doesn’t stick.

After the 15 minute in the fridge, the dough was ready to be rolled out. I took the dough out of the plastic wrap, and rolled it out about 1/4 inch thick. I used a cookie cutter (slightly larger than the egg tart molds) and cut out about 16 circles.

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It pained me to waste all the other dough so I layered the scraps together, rolled it out, and cut out another 4 circles.

I placed each circle into the egg tart mold and pressed gently on the bottoms then slightly on the sides and gently worked the dough up to the edge of the mold.

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To make sure the bottoms stayed flat, I pricked the bottoms with a fork 3 times in each mold.

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Now time for the custard. I started by making some simple syrup. I just used 1/2 cup of hot water and mixed it with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar. I mixed it up until all the sugar was dissolved and set it aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, I cracked 3 eggs and added the reserved egg whites, 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. I mixed it up with a fork (I actually don’t own a regular whisk…), then slowly added the cooled simple syrup mixture.

At this point, I preheated the oven to 400º F.

I poured the mixture through a sieve to make sure there were no lumps. Then I poured the custard mixture into each of the egg tart molds, leaving 1/8″ of room at the top.

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I placed the molds into a cake pan to catch any spills and to easily place the tarts into the oven. You can use a sheet pan as well.

I placed the tarts into the oven and baked for 30 minutes. Bake time can range from 25-30 minutes.

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The egg tarts will be slightly jiggly, but the custard will not stick to your fingers if you touch the surface. Let it cool 2-3 minutes and remove the tarts from the molds to cool on a wire rack. The tarts pop right out of the molds. You saw how much butter went into the crust.

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Serve hot or store in the fridge and bake at 400º for 6-7 minutes before serving.

I had some extra custard left and poured it into a souffle dish and baked it off with the rest of the egg tarts. I found my creme brulee torch and sprinkled some sugar on the custard after it came out of the oven and caramelized the sugar on top. It was SO GOOD.

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Chinese Steamed Almond Sponge Cake

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I remember this cake very vividly from my childhood. I can only remember my mom making it once, but I never forgot it. First, its deliciously amazing. Its a spongy, fluffy, and lightly sweet, a nice pairing with tea or as a light breakfast pastry. A more traumatic reason why I remember this cake is because after my mom made it (by hand!), someone picked off a piece of it and she made all of us kids sit on the stairs until someone copped to doing it. That someone remains a mystery to this day (20+ years later). Every so often, I like to remind her of this story…and that IT WASN’T ME!

Back to this delicious cake. I don’t have a steamer big enough for this so I created a make-shift steamer out of whatever I could find in my kitchen. So, don’t worry about having a steamer, just make sure you have some stuff you can throw together to simulate one.

Here’s my make-shift steamer with two skewers in an “X” formation with a metal pan on top. I filled the bottom of the dutch oven about 1/2″ to 3/4″ high with water.

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Total prep time: 30 min | Total steam time: 45 – 60 min

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 c cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Optional: 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

Tools/Non-Food Things:

  • Stand mixer (hand mixer will work), bowl, whisk attachment
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large bowl (2 if no stand mixer bowl)
  • Spatula
  • Springform pan (see previous post Tip: Fixing a Leaking Springform Pan)
  • Steamer (I used skewers and a metal tray in a Dutch oven)
  • Skewer

I started by separating my 6 eggs into two bowls. Sometimes I just get super lazy and do this with my fingers. Its fast, slimy, but EFFECTIVE. Its faster this way and requires way less skill. Stop judging me. Also another lazy people tip: after I crack my eggs, I put the shells back into the carton and leave it in the fridge so it doesn’t stink up the trash. When I’m done with the eggs, I throw out the whole carton. One day I’ll remember to throw it in with my garden. One day.

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Enough about plans for my egg shells. I dumped my egg yolks into the bowl along with all the sugar and water and used the whisk attachment to mix it all up.

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You can see it starts a golden yellow color but you want to whisk this stuff until it nearly doubles in size and turns into a pretty light yellow color that looks something like this after about 5 minutes.

Almond Cake_04

While that was whisking, I sifted the cake flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl. I sift to get out all the clumpies and to make sure that the baking powder is evenly mixed into the cake flour. I basically dump it all into the mesh thing and tap the side until it all comes out the bottom. Nothing fancy here.

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Next, I dumped all the egg yolk stuff on top of the flour mixture. The original recipe says to add flour to the eggs, but I’m washing these dishes by hand and I’m not about to get out another bowl for this. Lazy? I’m gonna go with efficient.

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To this bowl, I also add the almond extract. I use McCormick Pure Almond Extract I bought at Target. Nothing special.

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Here’s where I washed the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment. I’m beating egg whites to somewhere between a soft and firm peak and I need a squeaky clean bowl to do this. See guide to peaks here. So I abandoned my egg yolk, flour, almond extract mixture to take care of this first. I dumped in the egg whites and added the cream of tartar. The cream of tartar is extra insurance to make sure the egg whites hold. I turn this on high speed with the whisk attachment until I got something between a soft and firm peak.

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Meanwhile, I got back to my egg yolk, flour, almond extract mixture. I very, very, very, very, very gently folded this until combined. Actually, not even combined. Acceptably combined. I used my spatula to flip stuff at the bottom of the bowl over and flipped it to the top.

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A few folds later and here’s my acceptably combined mixture.

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By this time, the egg whites were ready to be added to the mixture. I scooped all of the egg whites into the bowl and continued with folding, very, very very, very gently.

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Fold until mostly combined.

Next, I turned the stove on to start heating the water for my make-shift steamer. Once the water came to a boil, I placed the springform pan inside and very, very, very, very carefully poured the batter into the springform pan.

Note: It kinda looks like I already started cooking it here, but actually the batter is just super duper duper fluffy if you were careful with your folding.

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Next, I turn the heat down to low to keep a consistent simmer and placed the lid on my dutch oven. I found a clear lid because I hate the idea of not being able to see inside.

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I’ve seen some recipes say to place a tea towel over the pan to prevent dripping, but I just don’t care enough to do this. The droplets don’t do enough damage for me to care. Also, I’m not sure what this is going to do to my tea towel. What if something bad happens!? The original recipe I read said to steam for 20 min and that’s so ridiculous. The first time I made this cake, it was COMPLETELY raw inside. This thing needs to steam for at LEAST 40 min and closer to 60 min. I’ve done this enough times to know mine has to sit in the little sauna for 60 minutes.

To keep all the watery droplets from falling all over my cake when I lift the lid, my mom always taught me to tilt to the side instead of lifting straight up. This keeps the water in the lid or dripping down the side and back into the dutch oven. Don’t believe me? Try it. Moms are wise.

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Once you’ve got the lid off, take a skewer and poke in the center and a few other places to make sure it comes out clean. I did it only once before and then found there was a completely raw section I missed. No worries if this happens to you. Just pop it back in the steamer for another 15 min or until done.

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Next, I pulled the cake out and placed it on a plate. Its soooo fluffy and it smells soooo good. I ran my skewer around the edges before releasing the spring from the springform pan.

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I let it cool for a few minutes before I sliced it up, dusted with powdered sugar (optional, but extra fancy), and served.

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