Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Chinese New Year Baking Project 2013!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes and Dark Chocolate and Cherry Brownie Tarts
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! May the year of the snake be a prosperous year where you'll be entwined with good fortune, good health and happiness. One other good news that I'd like to share with everyone is that I finally got myself a DSLR! I'm so happy with my upgrade from a 5 mega pixel digital camera (yes it's old!). I've always been envious of the high quality shots with the fine resolution and focus in the photos that people take, and now I can finally say that I've joined the pack. Exposing myself into the new world of photography is like learning a completely new language. My head gets confuzzled with all the jargon used in photography and therefore it'll definitely take me a while to try and configure everything. But otherwise, I'm filled with the excitement of becoming a pro shutterbug.
For weeks I have been brainstorming for ideas of what I should bake for chinese new year and in return that nearly made my head explode with the infinite choices that I can decide on. A lot of things did not go into plan on my new year's eve baking bonanza and most of it was due to my lack of organization and foresight. Cheesecakes were originally part of the plan but the refrigerator was jam-packed with groceries which will then be filled with food leftover from new year eve's dinner. Well, I'm not surprised here since history repeats itself every year. It was always a nightmare for me to feed on the same dishes for a whole week as my parents crazily cook more than our stomachs can handle. Luckily, the handbrake was pulled this year and we only have a reasonable amount to deal with.
I had to say that most of the things I baked were decided in a spur of a moment during the day as I was trying to work with what's already in the pantry and what nibbles would be suitable for guests who will come over to celebrate new year with us. My sister, S and I made a batch of honey joys where the majority were shamefully finished by us instead of the guests. The honey joys were nostalgic to have. It's one of those easy-to-make and simply delicious sweet treats that we had to learn to make back in the days of high school.

Cupcakes are always a must in my list to do's for chinese new year as it's simple to serve to guests and this year I decided on making white chocolate raspberry cupcakes. I love the combination of those two flavours together. The natural pinkish-red colour of the raspberry was one of the main reasons chosen as to fit in with the CNY theme. It's definitely no chinese new year treat unless you have some red colour in your least in my opinion. These cupcakes are made by simply grabbing a trustworthy plain vanilla cupcake recipe that you have and then just add in white chocolate bits plus a cup of raspberries.
Disasters tend to befall when I'm not organised with anything and same goes with the dark chocolate and cherry brownie tarts. When I started cooking the butter and chocolate, I realised that I ran out of brown sugar. Panic, self-blames and cursing (oops no cursing on CNY) all took place in an instant. But then I decided to take a gamble and use caster sugar instead and luckily the brownies still worked out well. Appearance wise, I realised it probably wasn't the best decision to use cherries as the skin looked old and wrinkly after some harsh exposure in the oven. Otherwise, the texture was smooth and very delicious to eat.

Baking continued to go downhill when I overmixed my macaronage a little where the macarons turned out to be pink rather than red. In my mind I thought this batch had to be thrown away as they looked like flat pancakes when piped out. But these little babies rose to my surprise and actually had 'feet'.

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Brownie Tarts

(recipe adapted from Donna Hay's magazine 10th birthday collector's edition, Issue 59)

200g dark chocolate (70%), chopped
60g butter
½ cup (90g) brown sugar (I used caster sugar instead)
¼ cup (60ml) thickened cream
3 eggs
¼ cup plain flour
250g cherries, pitted and halved

1. Preheat oven to 150°C/130°C fan-forced. Lightly grease 4x10cm-round springform cake tins lined with non-stick baking paper (I used 2x10cm-round cake tins and a 20cm square springform cake tin).

2. Place the chocolate, butter, sugar and cream in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and flour until well combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until combined.

4. Pour mixture into the cake tins and top with the cherries. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean. Serve the tarts with chocolate ganache or fresh cherries.

Honey Joys

(recipe adapted from Kellogg's Cornflakes)

90g butter or margarine
⅓ cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
4 cups corn flakes

1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a patty pan with paper cases.

2. Melt butter, sugar and honey together in a saucepan until frothy.

3. Add in the corn flakes and mix well.

4. Working quickly, spoon mixture into the paper patty cases. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool before serving.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Standard plain cupcake recipe (that makes approx. 20-25 cupcakes)
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen, roughly chopped (optional)



Please refer to this post for the macaron recipe. Filling was just whipped cream topped with a raspberry. Sorry, I forgot to measure how much cream I've used here.

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