Archive of ‘Sweet’ 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.

Single Serve Vanilla Cupcakes

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Do you ever get a craving for cupcakes, but can’t commit to the 2 dozen regular batch makes? Here’s my answer. Single serve vanilla cupcakes. By single serve, I mean 2 regular size or 3 smaller sized cupcakes. Lets be real. Nobody eats ONE cupcake. That’s ridiculous.

I went Googling for some recipes and found a few I combined into this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp whole milk

Non-Food Things:

  • Cupcake liners
  • Loaf pan/ baking sheet
  • Measuring cups and spoons

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Some recipes said this is a one-bowl recipe. Lies. If you’re melting butter, last, there goes your one bowl. I am all about actually sticking to one bowl. If I’m not creating a whole bunch of dirty dishes, I wash by hand and want to wash as little as possible. That said, start by putting melting the butter in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds on high to melt the butter. Once it comes out, set it aside to cool for a few minutes or if you’re impatient like me, stir it around a bit to cool it faster.

Next, I added the sugar and egg white. and mixed it up with a fork. If you add the egg white before the butter has sufficiently cooled, you’re going to have scrambled egg whites. Don’t do that.

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A note on the sugar: I keep some vanilla sugar around because I LOVE vanilla. WAY more than chocolate. The more vanilla, the better. I keep it in an old Smuckers jar I repurposed (because this is where my mom used to keep the sugar). Its just granulated sugar with some used vanilla pods (vanilla beans scraped out) shoved inside to infuse the sugar. If you don’t have this, regular sugar is fine. It’s just not AS good.

Next, I added vanilla extract. I got mine from Williams Sonoma and its way better than McCormicks stuff you buy at the grocery store. If you’re going to make vanilla cupcakes, use good vanilla.

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Next, I added the flour, baking powder, and salt. Recipes usually tell you to mix this up in a separate bowl, but we’re all about a one-bowl recipe here. Just throw it all in at the same time and mix well.

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Note on the baking powder: The recipe called for a “heaping” 1/4 tsp of baking powder. I thought baking was supposed to be precise. This is how much I used and it worked. I did accidentally use baking soda by accident. That did NOT work. No bueno.

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After I mixed all the dry ingredients into the batter, it was pretty dry. I added the milk and it loosened it up quite a bit.

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I used the same measuring spoon the scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. I got the liners for my birthday in a package of awesome things to use for blogging and things. They’re from Home Goods, but they’re slightly smaller than regular cupcake liners so the recipe makes 3 cupcakes instead of 2 regular sized cupcakes.

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I put the liners into a loaf pan to make transferring them in and out of the oven easier. I made 2 batches, so I have 6 here.

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Bake at 350° for 12-15 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set them aside to cool and frost if you want!

I love cream cheese frosting, so that’s what I used to frost mine before proceeding to devour them all.

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Taro Swirl Hokkaido Milk Bread

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I grew up eating Chinese style bakery bread. I actually dislike regular crusty breads. Blech. I like my bread to be lightly sweet and pillowy soft with a slight chew to it. Think King’s Hawaiian bread rolls, but a tiny bit more dense and chewy. I never knew what this type of bread was called Hokkaido milk bread until my recent bread obsession. I found a few recipes for Hokkaido milk bread and mashed them up together to create my own (arguably better) version. The bread by itself is SO GOOD, but my husband LOVES taro so I thought I’d put some in as filling. Instead of having having a big mass of taro paste in the center, I opted to swirl it it in like they do with red bean past at my local Chinese bakery. YUM.

There are 4 parts to the recipe: Taro Paste, Tang Zhong (more on this later), Dough, and Egg wash. Here’s what you’ll need to make my Taro Swirl Hokkaido Milk Bread:

Ingredients:

Taro Paste:

  • 700 g Steamed Taro + 300 ml (about 1 1/3 c) Water
  • 100 g Cake Flour + 80 ml (about 2/3 c) Water
  • 160 g Granulated Sugar (about scant 1/2 c)

Tang Zhong:

  • 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 c Whole Milk
  • 1/3 c Water (or Taro liquid from steaming)

Dough:

  • 800 g (about 5 c) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 c Granulated Sugar
  • 50 g (about 1/2 c) Milk Powder
  • 1/2 c Half and Half
  • 3/4 c Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 tsp Instant Yeast (Bread Maker Yeast)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • All of the Tang Zhong

Egg Wash:

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Tools/Non-Food Things:

  • Stand Mixer, Bowl & Dough Hook Attachment
  • Saucepan
  • Steamer or Make-shift Steamer
  • Oven
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cutting Board/Clean Flat Surface
  • 2 Loaf Pans
  • Knife
  • Chopstick/Skewer
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Optional: Scale

I assemble most of these things simultaneously, but they are timed so that while you’re waiting on one thing, you start putting together the next. So we’ll start with the Taro Paste since this takes the longest. You can also opt out of this part of the recipe and buy some, use canned/store bought red bean paste, or any filling you want instead. Its the most time consuming and when I’m short on time/energy I skip and buy the filling instead.

I buy taro in a vacuum sealed pack from my Asian grocery store. I’m sure you can buy this at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I bought a bunch and threw it in my freezer to use whenever I need it. So I unpacked my giant piece of Taro and put it in my make shift steamer (my wok with a metal tray and bowl on top) and steamed until the taro was cooked through. To test this, you should be able to stab a chopstick or skewer through easily. Its like cooking potatoes. Same deal.

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While the taro was steaming, I started on the Tang Zhong. Directly translated from Chinese to English, it means “soup type”. Basically this is a method to making bread that gives it a soft texture (that stays soft) and has a chewy texture. Exactly the way I like my bread. This method basically cooks part of the flour with a liquid to develop the gluten in the flour to give it the soft and chewy texture. YUM.

To make the Tang Zhong, I throw all the ingredients into a pan and mix it up over medium heat.

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As soon as the mixture starts coming together, I turn the heat off.

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Continue to stir as the mixture turns into a big blob of white goo. This is normal.

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Optional: Instead of using water, for the Tang Zhong, my taro steaming process produced some taro water that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. I used this in lieu of water to infuse more taro flavor into the dough.

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Once this is done, I transfer all of the Tang Zhong into my stand mixing bowl to cool while I gather the rest of the ingredients for the dough. I basically throw everything listed in the ingredients into the bowl in no particular order except that I put in the yeast last.

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I attach the dough hook and set mixer speed to 2 and let it run for 20 min or so until all the dough comes off the side of the bowl. At about the 10 min mark, I’ll scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and turn it back on. Sometimes the goopier parts of the dough gets stuck on the bottom and I want to make sure it all gets mixed in evenly.

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Once this is done, I cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and place it in a warm-ish place. I usually will turn on the oven for 30-60 seconds, turn it off, the set the bowl inside to allow the dough to rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

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While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, I continued on the Taro paste. At this point, the Taro was done steaming and I left it out to cool. I measured out 700 g of steamed taro and placed it into my blender with the water and sugar. I blended this quickly for about 15 seconds and poured it out into a saucepan. Next, I mixed the cake flour and water together to form a paste and also poured that into the saucepan.

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I turned on the stove to med heat and mixed all the contents together for 2-3 min before turning the heat down to low. This process is to extract all the water out of the mixture until it turns into taro paste. I continued to stir the mixture every 2-3 min for about 45 min. Takes forever, but this is the time I start cleaning up the huge mess I’ve made up until this point while stirring every 2-3 min. After 45 min, I took the saucepan off the stove and let it cool.

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Around this time, the dough doubled in size and was ready to assemble into the loaf pans. Seeing it double is sooooooooo satisfying.

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I pulled the dough out of the bowl and divided it into 8 pieces. I eyeball this every time. It doesn’t need to be exact, but shouldn’t be glaringly off either. I do this by cutting the dough in half, then cutting each half into 4 equal pieces.

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You can use a rolling pin for this part, but its much easier for me to stretch it out with my hands. I took one piece and stretched it out to about 3″ x 9″. This is very, very, approximate. I just need it to be the right size to swirl enough taro paste inside. Once the dough is stretched out, I spread a 1/4″ layer of taro paste on top.

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Then, I fold the dough in thirds long ways.

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Next, I stretch the dough out in the other direction until its about double in length.

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Then I take one end and roll it up and put it seam side down into the pan.

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Repeat 7 more times until you have 4 rolls in each loaf pan.

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Now, place the loaves back into a warm location to rise for another 20 min. Instead of putting them into the oven to proof, I placed them on top of the stove where its warmish but not hot and preheat the oven to 350°.

While this is going, make the egg wash. I beat one egg with 2 Tbsp of water. This is to keep the tops from turning crusty brown. Once the loaves have risen, I slather the egg wash onto the tops of the loaves with my fingers. I could use a brush, but why?

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Next, I place the loaves into the preheated oven for 35-40 min on the lower middle rack.

After 38 min, I pulled out my loaves and let them cool in the pan on a wire rack before taking them out of the pan and slicing it up to serve. I skip the slicing if I’m giving the loaf to my dad who just rips into it and devours half the loaf in one sitting. Om nom nom nom.

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This is more work than using a regular bread machine but its SO worth it. Promise. You won’t regret it.

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