Monday, March 19, 2012

Red Velvet Brownies & Subic Outing

Two days ago, I tagged along my beau's company outing for his department. We went to Subic, still a part of the Philippines. I had enjoyed the road trip immensely, looking out the window of the car, seeing buildings turn into miles of land and trees. A part of me wish the city had more trees and parks. I want to live somewhere peaceful like that, green bushes stretching on for miles, with countless trees and flowers around. It was still hot there, and I wished I was in a different country entirely. The heat was never something I liked, I love the rain and the coolness it brings along with it.

They had planned to ride an Ultralight a sort of mini plane, giving them a tour around the scenery for either ten or twenty minutes. Many of them proudly stated that they can finally scratch it off their bucket list, not me. I have a great fear of heights. I was happy not to be a part of the team expected to fly in the air in this tiny plane with my hair whipping about like crazy. I was shocked that in the end, I was sitting on this plane of theirs with a FREE ride offered by them. It was only to circle the vicinity, so that I would not leave the place empty. They are good at what they do, because I ended up on the ground in one peace, not having any panic attacks at all. It is quite an experience, so if you would like to give it a try... You can see their webpage here.

I brought Red Velvet Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies to the trip. The brownies were my first try at them, they were yummy but I find them a bit sweet. I ended up adding a tablespoon of cocoa to them for a bit more chocolatey flavor, I was glad I did. They had just a hint of chocolate, just as Red Velvets usually are. Ofcourse you have to lessen the flour a tablespoon if you do this. They were a nice red color as well, despite the fact that I had run out of red food coloring and had only added a tablespoon and less than a half to it. Maybe next time I would just have to lessen the sugar a bit. The white chocolate buttercream, I expected them to be too sweet to be added along with the brownies.. but they went a long great with it. Perhaps next time cream cheese would hit the spot, and would tame the sweetness to it.

Edit: My hubby bought what was left to his office, and it was a hit! They ate it aaaall. 

Red Velvet Brownies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons red food coloring

2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour an 8 x 8 cake pan.

In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to create a paste.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add remaining teaspoon of vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, add in cocoa powder mixture. Beat until batter is completely red. (If at this time your batter is NOT red, you can add a little more food coloring if desired. Color will depend on brand.) Add flour and salt, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread in the 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting

1 stick of butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces white chocolate, melted (I used Lindt)

1-2 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)

Cream butter in an electric mixer until fluffy, then add vanilla. Slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low speed. Add in melted white chocolate and beat until incorporated. To reach desired consistency, add in milk 1 teaspoon at a time with mixer on low speed. If frosting becomes too liquidy, simple add additional sugar.

I am looking forward to coming back to Subic, to let my sister try out ultralight flying and have a swim. Here are some pictures from the trip!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Cake Pops

Cake Pops, what a marvel. A cake seem all to difficult to make for you? Cake pops is the one to make. It is messy, delicious but takes a bit of time... but when you pop these little cakelets into your mouth, you'll forget how long you've made them and might even eat all of them so quickly!

The process is to bake a cake, shred it all to crumbs, dump your favorite frosting in there, mix it all up then roll it into balls. You just have to chill the balls a bit for easy dipping.

I had used a one-bowl recipe for Chocolate Cake from Sweetapolita, and also her Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. My cake pops ended up light, and velvety with the crunch of the chocolate coating. You could probably pop three of them in your mouth and not get sick of chocolate yet.

Double Chocolate Cake Pops

1 9x9" Chocolate Fudge Cake (recipe found below)
1 cup Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe found below)
Chocolate bar/Chocolate chips (for coating)

1. Cut your cake in half and rub the two of them together until everything has turned into crumbs.
2. Dump your frosting with your cake and mix it well.
3. Take some of the frosted cake into your (well cleaned) hands and roll them into a bowl. Place your rolled balls into a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
4. Chill them for atleast 30 minutes.
5. Chop your chocolate bar, and melt them along with a teaspoon or two of shortening over a bain marie. When melted, cool it a bit before dipping your cake pops.
6. Take your pops out of the fridge, and drop them into the slightly cooled chocolate. Use a spoon and fork to balance the cake pops in, and let the excess chocolate drip. Drop the now chocolate covered cake pops into the baking sheet.
7. When done, you may place them in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf-life. Or eat them right then and there after the chocolate coating has set. Don't forget to share!

Recipes from Sweetapolita

Chocolate Fudge Cake


1 1/2 cups (180 g/6 oz) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (300 g/ 10 oz) sugar

3/4 cup (90 g/3 oz) dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I just used Hershey's unsweetened Cocoa Powder)

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL/6 g) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 mL/4 g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (5 mL/5 g) salt

1/4 cup (60 mL/2 liquid oz) vegetable oil

3/4 cup (190 mL/6 liquid oz) buttermilk

3/4 cup (190 mL/6 liquid oz) hot brewed coffee (I just added more milk/buttermilk, I don't drink coffee)

2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Prepare one 9x9" cake pan.

2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients and add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared pans. If possible, use a digital kitchen scale and weigh divided batter in pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.

3. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean–approximately 30 minutes. Try not to over bake.

4. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: ~5 cups


300 grams (10 oz) chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted, and cooled

5 large, fresh egg whites (150 g/5 oz)

1 1/4 cups (250 g/9 oz) sugar

3/4 lb (3 sticks/340 g/12 oz) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt


1. Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over pot of simmering water, or in a microwave-safe bowl in 25 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth. Set aside to cool (you can scrape it out into a new container to speed up cooling).

2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

3. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 150°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

4. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.

5. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.

6. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

7. Add melted chocolate and mix on medium-low speed until combined.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Doubts

There's a silent comfort that I feel while baking, also while eating cookies. Cookies remind me of what it used to feel like being a kid, it reminds me of my mom.

There are days when I wonder if I have enough skill to pursue my love for baking... I have been looking around blogs to see that many are more knowledgeable in melding flavors, many have the funds, the capabilities and the background to dream big. I felt stuck, unable to do anything for some time. The heat was also an addition. How can anyone have a hot oven running at this temperature? But mostly, I am just in doubt. I shrug my shoulders and say to myself, don't overthink it. In fact, don't think about it. Just bake when you feel like it. Bake to make yourself happy. That's what your good at. And here I am.

The chocolate chip cookies I have to share with you are not exactly the type I prefer.. but they are delicious regardless. Think of biting into the crisp cookie, and discover its chewy center. It is easy to overcook them, and you might lose that chewiness that I enjoy in them. Some of them ended up cooking in twelve to thirteen minutes, my oven rising up to 400 degrees. I regulate the temperature by opening the oven door a bit for less than a minute.

I've kept mine in a large glass cookie jar Hubby and I have bought at a thrift store less than a year ago. You may store yours in a zip-lock bag.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Jacque Torres

2 Cups minus 2 tablespoons Cake Flour
1 2/3 Cups Bread Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1 1/4 Cups Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 large eggs, 1 egg  yolk
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 pounds Bittersweet or Semi-sweet chocolate feves or chips

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

3. Drop chocolate chips/pieces in and fold into batter.

4. Roll cookie dough and wrap with plastic wrap/cling wrap. Chill for atleast 3 hours, preferrably a day to three days. The dough develops flavor while sitting on the refrigerator. Dough may be used in batches.

5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Scoops and roll the dough into balls and place on baking sheet, making sure to leave space in between each cookies as it will flatten and spread during baking. You may add a sprinkle of good quality sea salt on top prior to baking. You may also just cut the rolled cookie dough and do not have to roll them into balls. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown but still soft. Mine had baked less than 15 minutes, time may differ. Be sure to check once in a while after the 10 minute mark.

7. Enjoy!

I am starting to dislike how small my photos are. I edit them big, and they end up almost half its size and loses some detail. They also seem to get darker when I post them here. Hm, what do you think? I'm making more of an effort to improve my photos. The lighting inside the house is underwhelming, and I can't always shoot outside. Any tips?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Easy Peasy Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

The temperature has risen, and summer has arrived at our country. It makes everyday seems so sluggish and lazy. I have been lazy, baking-wise due to the heat. But there seems to be no excuse, and more reasons to make ice cream. Especially this easy peasy vanilla one. No need for heating your cream, or ice baths or whatnots. Perfect for lazy bums such as moi. The result was not as creamy and delicious as my previous work, but if you aren't so picky about ice cream and just want a yummy way to deal with the heat, you gotta try this out. It is still quite yummy after all. You just have to be careful about adding the condensed milk, adding too much will be too overpowering and if you do not have additional cream or in my case, milk (I had added a bit of milk to lessen the sweetness), your ice cream might end up too sweet.

Despite my laziness, life has been busy and there had been some adjusting we had to deal with for my hubby's work. Also, the never-ending compromise and adjustment when you live with your in-laws. Ice cream usually tosses the hotheadedness out the window, but sometimes I feel running also works... if it weren't so hot.

I've also been dealing with some personal issues. Mostly decisions and at times doubts about really pursuing my dreams. Mostly I know its a never-ending struggle, 100% of the time I wish I could get lucky as I never seem to be.

So! Get your bums into the kitchen, you'll need a hand mixer or stand mixer, and ten minutes (or less) of your time to get this done!

Easy Peasy Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

600g Cream (I had used 300g heavy cream and 290g all purpose cream)
300g Sweetened Condensed Milk (I had only used 3/4 of the can, and it ended up slightly sweeter than I wanted, so be careful in adding this)
Vanilla bean or Vanilla Extract
Chocolate Chips, depending on how much you would like

Whip your cream (and vanilla bean, if using) until it has body or stiff peaks. Add the sweetened condensed milk, tasting once in a while (no eggs here, don't worry). Add your vanilla extract and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When it is thick, but not yet frozen, add in your chocolate chips then bring back to the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours. Take ice cream out for a minute before eating for easy scooping.

In another note, I wish my photos ended up clear enough. I was already sweating like a pig! Damn this heat. LOL. My little one enjoyed smiling for the camera though.