Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brownies-- Revisited

I was browsing through a cupcake magazine owned by my church pastor's wife-- she's the main inspiration for all of my baking ideas. And, I came across this:


All it required were candy melts, parchment paper, & a piping bag. The melted candy is scooped into the piping bag, then squeezed onto the parchment paper into pretty designs.

I thought, Wouldn't it be nice to make an attempt on these little candy designs? So, I tried them on a birthday brownie piece I made for my brother's lovely woman.

Helpful hint: If you don't have a piping bag, or you are saving up for a shiny new set (with all the creatively-shaped nozzles), a Ziploc bag works, too. A freezer bag works even better! It's more durable & it prevents the candy melts from exploding out of the bag. Simply cut the tip of the baggie into the desired size. :]

Here they are...

That was really fun!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mum's Birthday Cake

It was my Mum's birthday.
She deserved a low-sugar cake, with sugar-free frosting.

I made a cake with the same recipe I used for the cake pops.

Three layers of butter cake, with white chocolate chips folded into the dough.
Thought I'd show off a little bit of my cake-decorating-skill progress.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cake Pops

A week ago, I was in New Jersey sitting in a table with cake pops. Cake pops.

I hear these have been around for a while, and just like the red velvet treats, these are becoming more commercialized too-- especially after Starbucks recently introduced them.

For those of you who still have no idea what these are, they are little, candy-covered cakes molded into shapes & stuck on a stick. One of my favorite cake pop baker-artists:
She has simply mastered the art of decorating these things. Her Sesame Street character cake pops were my favorite!

While I am still in the proces of learning how to use my art to decorate my treats (see bottom), I thought I'd learn how to create simple versions of these cake pops. My boyfriend, Aaron, and I decided to do so yesterday afternoon.

Just an FYI, most cake pops require using a box of cake mix. I decided to actually bake my cake from scratch. If you decide to follow my instructions but want to use the cake mix, skip the part where I talk about baking the cake-- move onto the preparation of the pops.

Oh, and one more thing, I've made these so that the sugar content is less...


Ingredients for the cake:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup of sugar (since I want to share these, I opted out the SPLENDA substitution, for now)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for the pops:
- a bag of dark cocoa candy melts
- 1 can of whipped frosting (whipped frosting has less fat content)
- a bag of lollipop sticks

Butter cake. I turned the oven on at 350 degrees F and prepared all my mixing bowls. In a large bowl, Aaron mixed together the butter, sugar, eggs, & vanilla essence. In a mid-sized bowl, I sifted together all my dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, & salt. As he was beating the wet ingredients together, I would throw in the dry mixture in, alternating it with the milk. Once smooth, I spooned it into my cake baking tin, placed it in the oven, & left it there for 35 minutes.

The cake turned out a bit more crumby than I had expected. I was hoping for a moist cake. Anyway, this was my very first time baking a cake, so I wasn't too disappointed. I look forward to improving baking cake from scratch.

Cake pops. Once the cake has cooled, Aaron & I crumbled the cake with a fork & eventually used our hands. On the stove, I started melting the candy melts. (If you have forgotten how to melt chocolate, read through my Low-Sugar, Low-Calorie Brownie entry). We mixed the can of whipped frosting into the cake; this is the reason why I barely used sugar for my cake. I have tried cake pops that are way too sweet for me, a sweet person. Hehe. :] I don't like them too sweet.

We took spoonfuls of cake, rounded them into balls, then arranged them on a cookie sheet. While Aaron was finishing up, I was clearing out my freezer to make room for the pops.  I took a lollipop stick, dipped it into the chocolate, then pierced one through each cake round.

Nice & neat, isn't it?

I still don't know why the lollipop stick needs to be dipped in the candy melt. My theory is that it holds the stick to the cake round. Once done, this cookie sheet went into the freezer and stayed there for 15 minutes.

Afterwards, I dipped each frozen ball into the melted dark cocoa & voila! a cake pop was born!

Many more were born thereafter...

As far as treat decorating goes, I was planning on placing smiley faces on the pops. I decided that I'll do that next time. Basics first, right?

My past cake (brownie) deco:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

Need I say more?

There has been this red velvet fad lately, and I saw it fit to attempt this crowd-favorite recipe. Red velvet cake, red velvet cupcakes, red velvet hot chocolate (from The Coffee Bean), and now... red velvet cookies.

To be quite honest, this isn't my favorite type of flavor for cake, but there comes a time when we stop baking for ourselves & start making food for others... or, simply have an audience that would be willing to buy tickets to your performance.

It took me a while to make an attempt in baking these just because it was such a foreign flavor to me. I also thought that I was too much of a novice in cooking to even try. Fortunately, they're doable! So, dear reader, here's a small encouragement for you: if I can do them, trust me, you can too.


- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate squares
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup CRISCO Shortening)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (2 tbsp + 2 tsp SPLENDA Brown Sugar)
- 1/3 cup white sugar (2 tbsp + 2 tsp SPLENDA Sugar Blend)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp red food coloring
- 3/4 cup sour cream

For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, whipped
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp SPLENDA Sugar Blend

In a mid-sized bowl, I sifted together the flour, baking soda, & salt. In a larger bowl, I mixed together the shortening, brown sugar, white sugar & the egg until it was smooth. The oven was turned on to 350 degrees F.

The chocolate squares were placed in a ramekin & melted through the microwave-- stop! Through trial & error, this was a bad idea... I didn't feel like melting the chocolate through the stove (the long and proper way to melt chocolate), like I would with the brownies... so, I put the ramekin in the microwave & let it heat up for 30 seconds, and it ended up burning a few bits of chocolate. I only realized this when they popped up in my cookie batter later on. While harmless in tiny amounts, I manually took as much as I could out of the batter with a chopstick to prevent that bitter, burnt chocolate taste in the cookie.

Lesson learned.

In that large bowl of mixture, I added the melted chocolate, then the red food coloring... eventually, the sour cream & the dry ingredients.

I placed spoonfuls of batter on a baking sheet & let them bake for 10 minutes. I started using the timer on my iPhone to consistently bake all the cookies.

While those were sitting in the oven, I made the frosting-- putting together all the listed ingredients in a small bowl. I was down to the last few tablespoons of my SPLENDA Sugar Blend package, and it was enough for the frosting.

You'll know what to do afterwards.

So far, I haven't received poor feedback for the cookies-- I must be doing something right. I mean, I did pray for the cookies to turn out well... hehe.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pizza, from Scratch

It was a lovely, sunny afternoon. My boyfriend, Aaron, & I decided to fix a meal together... pizza! Pizza is pretty hearty, especially when it's homemade-- plus, if you start from scratch, you get the sense of accomplishment in the end. The pizza seem much more scrumptious. And... it was sweet cooking alongside the man I love.

We were at a party once, and a guy was creating these tasty rounds of dough, covered with delicious topping combinations. We attempted a couple of the common ones: BBQ Chicken & Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella.


- 7g sachet dry yeast (the rapid-acting yeast was useful, since we had to finish cooking in an hour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp polenta (or cornmeal, the polenta worked well because it stuck to the bottom of the pizza dough)

In the kitchen, Aaron dealt with the pizza dough. He combined the yeast, salt, sugar, & a cup of warm water in a small bowl. We covered it with plastic wrap and set it inside the oven, BEFORE we turned it on. It stayed there for 10 minutes. It should look foamy, if not, leave it in for a couple more minutes.

In a large bowl, the flour was sifted, and once the yeast rose, he made a well in the center of the flour & poured the yeast mixture in. He took out the mixture and kneaded the dough on the lightly-floured kitchen counter, until it was smooth & elastic.

He created four, personal, pizza rounds and placed some polenta under it. I brushed a baking sheet with olive oil, placed the dough on top, and baked them for 10-15 minutes at 415 degrees F. 

Well, we took the dough out of the oven because we panicked about how they looked... haha!

We learned, later that night, that we were supposed to poke holes in our dough, before baking them, to keep the steam from creating pizza balloons. We made holes in them before we topped it with our sauces.


- 1 can of peeled, sliced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- finely chopped onions (it's up to you how much you would like)
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (my aim is to try this recipe again & use actual slices of mozzarella)

In a sauce pan, while Aaron was kneading the dough, I combined all the ingredients & put it on medium heat until it simmered. I crushed a handful of the tomato slices with my soup spoon, but left the rest intact. 

While that was sitting on the stove, I went to turn on the grill for Aaron's BBQ Chicken pizza.


- 1/2 cup hickory BBQ sauce
- 1 grilled chicken breast, diced into small pieces 
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- a pinch of hickory-smoked pepper (plain pepper works, too)

Once the chicken was grilled, Aaron & I prepared our pizza doughs...

For the Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella: 
I simply covered the dough with the sauce I put together & topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese.

For the BBQ Chicken:
Aaron covered the dough with BBQ sauce, topped it with some cheese, then the grilled chicken. Some more cheese, then some pepper to finish it off.

We threw the baking sheets, with our freshly-topped pizza doughs, back into the oven for 5-10 minutes. When we took it out, we gave each other high-fives for jobs well done. The pizza were successful! The dough was soft & chewy, at the right consistency... although, Aaron thought the dough could have been thinner. I like my pizza thick. The polenta stuck to the bottom of the pizza, which was nice. And, the toppings were tasty. Now, if I only knew how to better describe the exact taste...

Ah, simply writing about the experience makes me want to make some more! Thank you for the experience, love. :]

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy, Happy Brownies

I have a couple of recipes I'd like to post, so for archiving purposes, I'm going to go on a blog-a-thon here. Or not, depending on the time I have... hehe.

More recipes. More food. More positive feedback.

Out of all the recipes I have posted on here, this brownie recipe has been attempted many more times than usual. One, because it's the easiest to make and two, because I have seen the plate cleared a little bit faster than the other dishes.

The best feedback I have gotten: "You don't get tired of the brownie."


- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate (or white chocolate melts, you decide)
- 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1/2 cup of SPLENDA sugar blend (yes, I am still using sugar substitute)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder

I have three bowls prepared for this recipe.

Fill a saucepan with water & put it to a simmer. Find a small glass (or ceramic) bowl that can sit on top of the saucepan, without it touching the water. When the water starts to simmer, the pan is taken out of the heat & the glass bowl goes on top of the saucepan. The butter & chocolate goes there. Let them melt together into a nice chocolate-y sauce. If those instructions were confusing, find a way to melt the butter & chocolate together.

In a large bowl, I lightly beat the eggs, sugar, & vanilla together. In a mid-sized bowl, the flour & cocoa powder-- making sure these are sifted. Again, I have used a fork to sift the dry ingredients. Turn the oven on at 350 degrees, please.

Once the butter-chocolate sauce is melted, pour this into the large bowl with the eggs, sugar, & vanilla. While mixing them altogether like a witch, her cauldron, mix in the flour & cocoa powder. When it looks "edible," taste the batter then pour it into an 8x8 inch baking pan... or whichever size you prefer.

Allow it to bake for 30 minutes, then let it cool.

Frost. You decide. Happy munching!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homemade Apple Pies

Mum called them non-commercialized, homemade apple pies-- after she bit into one.

Look at that! Two baking experiences in one day. Not bad.

Went to Borders today & picked up a great book, Cooking: A Commonsense Guide. Read up on cooking terms, different cuts of meat, and how to bone a chicken. Smart tips on cooking, especially for a novice, like me. This book is a gem I found in the bargain shelves. I kept reading until I decided I wanted to cook again... tonight!

I bought a package of PILLSBURY Refrigerated Pie Crusts from Walmart a couple of weeks back, and I knew I wanted to use it for something, I just didn't know what for. I took the pie crusts out of the box & followed the recipe listed right under the nutrition facts.


- 1 package PILLSBURY Refrigerated Pie Crusts
- 3 cups of thinly sliced, peeled apples (ripe Fuji Apples were fantastic)
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA Sugar Blend
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp water (or lemon juice, I used water to "lessen" the calories... oh, and because I didn't have a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I have no idea why I added this, I suppose you can opt this one out)
- 1/8 tsp salt

The sliced apples went into a large bowl. Right by it, in a smaller bowl, I mixed together the sugar, flour, water, cinnamon, vanilla extract & salt. I threw the mix onto the apples & tossed the apples around, with the "sauce".

Turned the oven on at 425 degrees and laid the pie crust on a sheet of parchment paper. I divided the dough into my desired shapes & came out with three different shapes of apple pie. Take a piece of flattened dough, line it with some apples & sauce, then seal it shut. The photograph shows my attempt to be creative with the dough (or, I simply didn't know how to wrap the apples in dough).

After sitting in the oven for 40 minutes, then 10 minutes of cooling... lovely, edible, warm apple pies.

One great tip I learned from the book I am reading, "Always read the recipe before you start." The golden commonsense rule, they say. It would really suck to find out your dinner centerpiece, for tonight's party, needed to be chilled overnight...