Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Doughnuts

I made these doughnuts this morning just because I wanted to make something using apples as I was hoping to submit at least an entry for the Little Thumbs Up event for this month. Actually I was planning to make something more elaborate for the event but I got a little distracted (an understatement!). I had all the ingredients for these easy-to-make & delightful doughnut balls. While waiting for the dough to rise, I kept myself busy on my desktop & finally managed to complete the laksa post. Anyway, if you happen to have all the ingredients, try making these. They are really good!






Salted Caramel Apple Doughnuts

Ingredients:

75 ml milk
25g butter, cut into small pieces
200g plain flour (I used bread flour.)
4g sachet fast-action dried yeast
25g caster sugar, plus 50g extra for dusting
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus 1 tsp (or more) for dusting
1 small egg, beaten
1/2 apple, grated (I used Granny Smith.)
vegetable or sunflower oil for frying, plus extra for greasing
about 200ml salted caramel sauce

Method:
  1. Warm the milk in a saucepan. Add the butter and set aside until the milk has cooled to hand temperature and the butter has melted. Put the flour in a large bowl with the yeast, sugar, cinnamon and 1⁄2 tsp salt, mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mixture, egg and apple. Combine with a wooden spoon, then tip out onto a work surface and knead for a few mins to combine. Pop into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size – about 2 hrs.
  2. Lightly grease 1 large baking tray. 
  3. Uncover the dough and knock out all the air. Remove a lump of dough, roughly the size of a walnut, and roll into a smooth ball. Put on a tray and squash gently with your palm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the tray with a sheet of oiled cling film and leave to prove until doubled in size again – about 30 mins.
  4. Line a large plate or baking tray with kitchen paper, and mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon on another. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the sides of a large saucepan. If you have a thermometer the temperature should reach 180C. If you don’t have one, drop in a small chunk of bread. The oil is ready when it browns in about 30 secs. Drop in 3-4 doughnuts at a time (depending on the size of your pan) and cook for 4-5 mins until each one is deep golden brown and puffed up. Drain on the kitchen paper, then quickly toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
  5. To fill the doughnuts, use a skewer or cocktail stick to make a hole in each one. Wiggle it around in the middle to create a cavity. Transfer the caramel to a piping bag fitted with small nozzle, insert the nozzle into the doughnut and squeeze as you pull it out, filling generously. Continue with the remaining doughnuts. Serve with extra caramel for dunking.
Adapted recipe from BBC Good Food.

Notes & modifications:
  1. I made only half the original recipe. It made 14 fist-size doughnuts after dividing the dough into 30g-balls. I intended to make bite-sized doughnuts but they turned out rather big. Next time, I'd form into 15g balls.
  2. I mixed my dough using my cake mixer using the dough hook until the dough developed a membrane. 
  3. For step 2, I lined the tray with silicone paper & dusted some flour on it.
  4. Instead of filling the fried doughnuts with store-bought caramel-in-a-can, I filled mine with my homemade salted caramel sauce.
I'm submitting this post to the Little Thumbs Up (Oct: Apple) event organized by Bake For Happy Kids with My Little Favourite DIY & hosted by I-Lost in Austen.

Laksa Kampung Siglap a.k.a. Laksa Johor

I love eating laksa, any kind of laksa.... Nyonya,  Johor or even Penang laksa. But I seldom cook it as my family is not really a great fan of laksa. Besides, cooking laksa requires a lot of work, so I'd normally have to satisfy my craving for laksa only when I'm eating out. Even then, I try not to have this calorie-laden noodle too often.


My early memories of laksa is when I was living in Kampung Kembangan in the 70s. I remember my mother would often call the travelling laksa hawker into our house compound. It was often a young man who would be carrying  two large baskets, filled with the ingredients & gravy for the laksa, hung on the two ends of a bamboo stick. I was just talking to my mum about this & it turned out that it was not always the same guy who came to sell. Apparently, these men were selling laksa which was prepared by a lady who lived in Kampong Siglap (which was not very far from Kampung Kembangan). Hence the name Laksa Kampong Siglap. However, the laksa is actually laksa Johor (except that spaghetti is used for laksa Johor) but because it was this lady from Kampung Siglap who popularised it in Singapore (at least in the eastern part), it's called Laksa Kampung Siglap. 


I also just found out my mother loves eating laksa so much that, during our kampung days, she had laksa for teatime almost everyday! It was so cheap.....only 10-30 cents a bowl, depending on how many pieces of laksa cap you want. (Laksa cap refers to the homemade laksa noodle strands which are formed into oval- or bun-shaped pieces. Please look at the laksa noodle that I made before to see what I mean.) Now in Singapore, Laksa Kampung Siglap is not as widely available as the Nyonya laksa. For sure you can get it from Geylang Serai Market, but I like to have my laksa fix at Mukmin Restaurant in Bedok. 


Laksa Kampung Siglap (a.k.a. Laksa Johor)

1 kg laksa noodle
300g bean sprouts (tauge)
laksa leaves (daun kesom) - diced*
cucumber - cut into strips*
*for garnish

GRAVY
Ingredients:
150g fresh prawns
400g fresh Japanese Mackeral (Ikan Kembong) or Wolf Herring (Ikan Parang)
2 tbsp ground toasted grated coconut (kerisik) - You can buy or make it yourself like this.
3 tbsps fish curry powder
250ml coconut milk (If using fresh grated coconut, squeeze milk from 1 coconut.)
1000ml water (combined prawn & fish stock & plain water)  
1 handful laksa leaves (daun kesom)
3 pieces asam gelugor or asam keping
salt - to taste
3 tbsp cooking oil

Grind to fine paste:
3 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
2 cm galangal (lengkuas)
3 lemongrass stalks (serai) - white part only
2 tbsp dried prawns -rinsed & soaked
1x3-cm-piece dried salted threadfin fish (ikan kurau) - rinsed & soaked

Method:
  1. Boil fresh prawns in some water until they are cooked. Then remove the prawns from water, de-shell & pound or blend flesh. Keep the stock for the gravy.
  2. Boil the fish in some water. Remove the fish from water, de-bone & flake. Set aside. Keep stock for the gravy.
  3. Heat up oil in a saucepan. Combine ground paste & curry powder. Sauté until dry & fragrant.
  4. Add in water, coconut milk, flaked fish & pounded prawn, kerisik, laksa leaves, asam gelugor & salt. Stir frequently until the gravy starts to boil. Then leave gravy to simmer. Adjust the thickness of gravy by simmering longer for thicker broth or adding more water for thinner broth.
CHILLI PASTE
100g dried chilli
salt to taste
- Soak dried chilli in hot water until soft. Rinse with clean water. Then, pound or grind chilli to fine paste. Add salt.

TO SERVE:
  1. Blanch some laksa noodle in boiling water. Drain & place in a bowl. Top it with tauge. 
  2. Pour gravy & garnish with daun kesom, cucumber & chilli paste.
I'm linking this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore, hosted by Grace Phua of Life Can Be Simple.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Talam Seri Medan

When I went to the  Geylang Serai market last week, besides the cempedak, I also bought a big bunch of pisang raja. It's rare to find pisang raja in my neighbourhood market, so I couldn't resist buying a bunch after seeing a few beautiful bunches hanging from a fruit stall....


I used up most of it fry banana fritters, using the batter recipe I used for my fried cempedak. Since it's been a long time since I last made a steam kuih, I decided to make one so that I could use up all the bananas. I looked through my file & saw a couple of recipes which I'd not tried before & finally decided to try making Talam Seri Medan. The recipe is by my favourite weekend-baking instructor, Wannah Alshatrie, but this time the recipe was passed down to me by my baking kaki then. 


I'm happy with how it turns out. The banana, coconut & sugar give out a combination of wonderful flavours... The texture was good & easy to handle... but when I make this again, I would reduce the rice flour or increase the liquid for the bottom layer as I like my kuih to be a little bit soft. I'm glad I added the diced banana & green sago pearls for added texture.... the kuih looks beautiful & very appetising, don't you think..?


Talam Seri Medan

BOTTOM LAYER

Ingredients:
50g palm sugar (gula Melaka) + 25ml plain water
60g rice flour
25g tapioca or sago flour
70g granulated sugar
200ml diluted coconut milk (I used 50ml coconut milk from the box & added 150ml water.)
125g (2 medium) bananas (pisang raja or berangan) - mashed
1/2 to 1 medium banana, diced - I added.
brown colouring
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
  1. Combine palm sugar  & water  in a saucepan & cook until the sugar melts. Strain & set aside.
  2. Combine palm sugar syrup, rice flour, tapioca flour, sugar, coconut milk & salt in a bowl & mix thoroughly. Strain & add in mashed & diced bananas & colouring. Mix until well-blended.
  3. Pour mixture into a saucepan & cook on low fire (on the stove), stirring continuously until the mixture thickens slightly & steam starts to appear.
  4. Pour mixture into a pan lined with silicone baking paper. (Read notes below.)
  5. Steam for 15 minutes over medium fire. 
  6. Once cook, scratch the top of kuih gently with a folk before pouring the mixture for the top layer.
TOP LAYER

Ingredients:
20g sago pearls - I added.
200ml thick coconut milk (I used 150ml coconut milk in the box & mix with 50ml water.)
35g rice flour
15g tapioca or sago flour
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
  1. Cook the sago pearls in boiling water until they become transparent. Strain & rinse under running water until they cool down. Set aside.
  2. Combine coconut milk, rice & tapioca or sago flour & salt in a bowl. Mix throughly. Then strain & add in cooked sago pearls. Mix until well blended.
  3. Pour mixture onto the cooked bottom layer & steam for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from the steamer & allow to cool completely. Cut the kuih using a plastic knife.
Notes & modifications:
  1. The above recipe is only 1/4 of the original recipe.
  2. I used a mess tin measuring 7 x 5 1/4 inch (18 x 13 1/2 cm ) for my kuih. You may also use  6 x 6 inch (15 x 15 cm) pan. The kuih is 3cm tall, 2cm for bottom & 1cm for the top layer. If you want to make it in a 8 x 8 inch pan, I suggest you double up the above recipe.
  3. In all, I used a box (200ml) of coconut milk. 
  4. The pan must be greased or lined so that it's easy to release the kuih from it. Traditionally, the pan is greased with oil & heated up before the kuih mixture is poured into it. Now, it's a common practice to line it with a plastic, so one only needs to lift up the plastic to release the kuih from the pan. I think that's a great idea except, I'm not comfortable with cooking with the plastic. So I would usually line my pan with silicone paper (siliconised baking paper) for my steam kuih.
  5. When removing the steamer cover, lift it carefully so that water from the cover does not drip onto the cooked kuih. If there's any water dripping on the kuih, dab it gently with a kitchen paper towel or damp kitchen towel.
Recipe by Wannah Alshatrie.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Epok-epok

Today's entry is on one of the most popular, if not the most popular snacks in Singapore & Malaysia. It's epok-epok to Singaporeans & Johoreans,  while the rest of Malaysians call it karipap. Epok-epok is the Malay version of curry puffs, almost like the Indian samosas. 


I think almost all of us would agree that a good epok-epok is one with thin & crispy crust. Of course, the filling has to be good too. Epok-epok is more commonly sold as a snack because it's actually quite simple to prepare, unlike karipap bai.


Whenever I made epok-epok at home, I would just agak-agak (estimate) the amount of ingredients... so my epok-epok, not surprisingly, is often not consistent in quality. There were a few occasions when I  tried a couple of promising recipes from the internet... the epok-epok was crispy alright, but it's either soaked in oil or, a recipe I tried very recently made a dough that was so difficult to handle!


So yesterday, I decided to measure the ingredients I used when making my epok-epok since I was planning to share the recipe here. I'm pleased with the outcome.... it's thin & reasonably crispy, considering that I did not use any vegetable shortening. (Shortening contributes to a crispy crust but it leaves a plastic aftertaste.) The dough is also easy to handle. So, do give a try & let me know what you think of it. Free feel to adjust the recipe & let me know how it turns out.


Epok-epok

PASTRY
Ingredients:
300g plain flour
30g (40ml) vegetable oil
40g butter or margarine (I used salted butter.)
3/4 tsp salt
70-90ml warm water (Do not pour all at once.)
vegetable oil for deep frying

Method:
  1. Combine oil & butter/margarine & salt & heat up until the butter melts.
  2. Pour the hot oil mixture into the flour & mix using a spoon.
  3. Add the warm water, as much as you need, & knead until a soft dough is formed. (You need not use up all the water.)
  4. Cover the dough or wrap it in plastic & leave it to rest for 20 minutes in room temperature.
FILLING
Ingredients:
2 cloves
2 pieces cardamoms
2 cm cinnamon stick (thin stick)
2 tsp ginger paste (from 1cm ginger)
1 tsp garlic paste (from 1 clove)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp meat curry powder (or kurma powder) - mix with a little water to form a paste
100g ground beef (or diced chicken or dried prawns)
150g potatoes (1-2 pieces) - diced into small cubes
1 medium onion (diced)
1/2 tsp salt
water (as needed)
1 tbsp mint leaves (or coriander leaves, aka cilantro or Chinese parsley)
2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cloves, cardamons, cinnamon stick, ginger & garlic paste until golden & fragrant.
  2. Add the curry paste & cook for 2 minutes. Then add the ground beef & stir thoroughly for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes & a few spoons of water. Stir frequently until the potatoes are cooked & almost dry. Add salt & more water when the mixture becomes dry but still uncooked. (I also cover the pan to speed up cooking time.)
  4. Add in onions & mint leaves & continue cooking until the onions become soft.
  5. Remove from fire & transfer into a bowl. Leave to cool completely before assembling the epok-epok.

ASSEMBLY
  1. Roll out the dough to 3mm thick and using a round cookie cutter, stamp out circles. (I used a 8cm cutter.) Pinch the edges of the circles to expand them a little. 
  2. Fill the center of pastry with filling and bring the edges together to form a half-moon. Pinch the edges together to seal & then crimp or pleat the sealed edges neatly. Refer to the video below on how I did mine.
  3. Deep-fry on medium fire until golden, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Drain & serve warm.
  4. Makes about 20 pieces.
Video: How to seal & crimp the edges of epok-epok.

video

Notes:
  1. If using dried prawns, soak them till soft & grind. Also, use fish instead of meat curry powder.
  2. For a less spicy filling, use kurma powder instead of curry powder. Kurma powder is similar to curry powder  except that it has white pepper instead of red chilli & turmeric powder.
  3. Cover or wrap unused dough with plastic, especially if you living in areas with low humidity, as the dough tends to dry up. 
  4. If  yo've used all the filling & there's excess dough, don't throw it away. Just roll it out, cut into strips & fry them. They make delicious snack!
  5. The uncooked epok-epok keeps well when frozen & fry it only before serving. You need not defrost them before frying.
I'm linking this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore, hosted by Grace Phua of Life Can Be Simple.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Fried Cempedak

The cempedak that I bought  the other day was just enough for me to bake the Cempedak Buttermilk Cake & cook cempedak puree for my Hari Raya Haji baking project. I didn't get to fry any of them. So yesterday, I made a trip to Geylang Serai market & among other things, I bought a cempedak.


I was quite curious what it would cost me. Normally, a kilogram costs about $4-$5 versus RM6 (S$2.40) I paid at Pasar Larkin. Yesterday, I got it for $3/kg. But for a slightly less than 2-kg plump cempedak, the dude charged me only $4! ("Nevermind, just pay me $4.") That was a very good bargain.... there were 16 sweet, deep orange nuggets altogether & the seeds were sooo small!


The batter I used was quite similar to the one I used for my fried bananas, except this time, I omitted the baking powder & sugar. The crunchy coating plus the sweet cempedak flesh made such a simple snack yet so satisfying..... that's just amazing..


Fried Cempedak

Ingredients:
15 cempedak nuggets
1 cup (150g) rice flour
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp  lye water -  you may also use lime water (air kapuh sirih) 
about 3/4 cup water (Don't add all at once.)
oil for deep frying

Method:
  1. Combine rice flour, plain flour & salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Gradually add water & lye water & mix well to create a smooth batter. (The batter should not be too runny or too thick.)
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Dip cempedak nuggets, one at a time, into the batter and deep fry until they turn deep yellow. Serve warm. If there's any leftover batter, just drizzle batter using a spoon or hand into the hot oil & fry till deep yellow.
I'm linking this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore, hosted by Grace Phua of Life Can Be Simple.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Cempedak Buttermilk Cake

If you are residing in Singapore or Malaysia, I'm sure you're aware that the cempedak season is here again.... yeah!! I went to Pasar Larkin in JB with my mom last week & among the many things we bought were 2 beautiful cempedaks. I cut open mine on Friday... the nuggets of flesh were big & beautiful & they tasted so sweet! After tasting a few pieces,  the remainder was just nice for my baking project.... 2 projects actually.. 


The first is this gorgeous buttermilk cake.. I just love this cake! I'm telling you, if you're a big fan of cempedak, then you must bake this! Or bake it for someone who loves cempedak! The deep orange cempedak that I used for this cake gives it its beautiful golden colour. The cake turns out very moist with very soft & fine texture. However, if you look at my cake, it looks denser at the bottom. Well, that's because I was impatient... I opened the oven door just after 20 minutes into baking time. I saw the top was already browning, so I thought I should start checking. I even shook the pan & to my horror, the cake was still wiggling. So please don't open the oven door at least for the first 30-40 minutes. Since the cake is moist & soft, when I cut it (less than 1 hour after baking time), I had to be careful because it's quite fragile. I think it would be better if you keep it for a day (if you are patient enough) for easier handling. It'd also be a good idea not to slice too thin. Anyway, this cake definitely tastes better after a day & even better after two days, that I know for sure. When I first tasted it, I found the cake quite sweet. Then the next day, when I took a bite, I was happy that the cake was not as sweet as the day before.... but as I chewed it, I could taste the sweetness again. On the third day, the cake tasted even better & it's not too sweet anymore, even after finishing the whole slice. So keeping the cake before serving is an important step.




I used a buttermilk banana cake recipe to bake this gorgeous cake... Besides replacing the banana with cempedak, I made some minor changes to the ingredients & method of preparing it. To summarise the above ramblings, below are some points you need to take note of before you start baking one.

Notes:
  1. The cempedak that I used is quite sweet but I've tasted sweeter ones. So if you think the cempedak you're using is already very sweet, you may reduce the sugar by 20-30g.
  2. You may replace the buttermilk with fresh / UHT milk. Just add 1 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk & set aside for a few minutes before using it.
  3. You may also use a 7x7 inch pan instead of a loaf pan.
  4. Don't open the oven for at least the first 30-40 minutes. Heed this advice & your cake should turn out better than mine.
  5. Serve this cake 1-2 days after baking to allow the flavour of the cake to develop further. Wrap the cake in a cling wrap & keep it in the fridge. Serve the cake in room temperature.
Happy baking & let me know how your cake turns out. Just leave a comment below or my FB page or Instagram. Hope to hear from you!


Cempedak Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:
150g cempedak flesh
1/2 tsp salt
100g butter, softened
200g sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla paste or essence
190g cake flour
190 ml buttermilk (divided into two parts)
walnuts (chopped) - for topping

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180° C.
  2. Line & grease  a 9¼ x 5¼ x 2½ inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  3. Combine cempedak & 90ml of the buttermilk & puree the mixture using a blender.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix flour & baking soda & sift. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar & salt until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, Mix until well blended. Then stir in vanilla paste.
  7. Reduce speed of mixer to the lowest possible & fold in the flour mixture alternately with the rest of the buttermilk.
  8. Stir in the cempedak puree.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan & sprinkle chopped walnuts over top. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 160° C & continue baking for another 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Reminder: Do not open the oven for at least the first 30 minutes of baking.)
  10. Remove from oven & leave the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan & leave it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Wrap the cake with cling wrap & leave for 1 or 2 days (keep it in the fridge to play safe) before serving to allow the flavour to develop. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Food.com.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mee Siam

Yesterday, I cooked  mee siam for the family. This time, it's the Malay version. Unlike Mee Siam Mamak,  this version is more commonly found in eating outlets here in Singapore. Just look for any Malay stalls that sell rice or noodles & they are likely to sell mee siam.


Mee siam is different from the regular fried bee hoon. While the latter is dry,  mee siam is served with sweet, sour & spicy gravy. For this recipe, the noodle is cooked using mainly onions for its flavour. So you definitely need to add the gravy when serving in order to relish the robust flavour of Mee Siam.



Mee Siam

For the fried mee:
300 g dry rice vermicelli
150g bean sprouts (tauge)
20-30 dried chilli (cut & soaked till soft)
2 medium onions
3 cloves garlic
salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:
  1. Soak rice vermicelli in a big bowl of water until soft for about half an hour. Drain & set aside.
  2. Blend chilli, onions & garlic to become paste. (Add water if needed.)
  3. Heat oil & sauté blended ingredients until fragrant. Add salt.
  4. Add vermicelli & fry until cooked.
  5. Add bean sprouts & fry for a few more minutes. Remove from fire & set aside.
For the gravy:
300g  fresh prawns - shelled & set aside the heads
20-30 dry chilli - soaked until soft.
2 onions
5 cloves garlic
3 tbsp dried shrimp - soaked till soft
1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)
3 tbsp taucu (fermented soya beans) - rinsed & mashed coarsely
2-4 pieces of asam gelugur (You may replace this with tamarind paste.)
4-5 cups of water
1/2 cup toasted peanuts - skinned & coursely ground
1/4 cup sugar
salt to taste
3 tbsp cooking oil

Method:
  1. Combine prawn heads & some water in a pot & cook until boiling. Strain & set aside the water. Throw the heads away.
  2. Combine chilli, onions, garlic, dried shrimp & belacan & blend to became paste. Add water if necessary.
  3. Heat oil in a pot. Sauté blended ingredients until fragrant.  Add in taucu & continue frying.
  4. Add in water (including the prawn head stock), prawns, asam gelugur, peanuts, sugar & salt until the gravy is boiling. Reduce heat & leave gravy to simmer. Add more salt, sugar &/or asam gelugur, if necessary.
For garnishing:
hard-boiled eggs
chives (kucai) - chopped
small limes - cut
fried tofu (bean curd) - cut into small pieces

To serve:
  1. Place fried mee in a bowl.
  2. Pour gravy onto the mee.
  3. Garnish & serve.
Notes: You may adjust the amount of any of the ingredients to your liking, especially the chilli, salt, sugar & asam gelugur. The amount of water used also depends on how thick you want the gravy to be.

Adapted from Junaidah Jaafar's recipe from Resepi Pesta Perut.

I'm linking this post to Asian Food Fest #11 Sept 2014 : Singapore, hosted by Grace Phua of Life Can Be Simple.
I'm also linking this post to Cook-Your-Books event no. 16 hosted by Kitchen Flavours.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Salted Caramel & Nutella Chocolate Tarts

I finally assembled these chocolate tarts, after a few breaks in between preparing the different parts. It was quite a long process for me. It started with the salted caramel sauce which I made last Tuesday. Then on Friday, I made & baked the tart shells. The weekend was a busy one for me, so I kept the baked shells in the fridge & only managed to prepare the Nutella ganache & assemble the tarts on Monday morning.


The inspiration to bake these tarts came after I tasted the Nutella tart my daughter bought from a local cafe last week. I wanted to try a new recipe, so I flipped through Vincent Gadan's Homemade Pâtisserie, Pastry Made Easy & the chocolate & salted caramel tart caught my eye. 


Preparing the tart shells took longer than expected, thanks to the hot & humid weather here. My kitchen is not air-conditioned & I didn't want to do the rolling & cutting of the dough in my bedroom, so  the dough had to go into & out of the fridge a few times as it got soft & sticky rather fast. At the same time, I was also making another all-butter pastry, the one that required a lot of foldings, for another tart. And before starting with the chocolate dough, I also made a cheesecake for my son's birthday...  So, you can imagine how busy I was that day...


But all the effort & time spent making these delicious tarts really paid off! Salted caramel & chocolate make an amazing combination! The sweet caramel really balances off nicely with the rich bittersweet chocolate flavour from the ganache & melt-in-the-mouth sable. The hazelnut flavour from the Nutella & chopped nuts (which also gave great texture & crunch) seals off this must-try dessert. Just be sure to use good quality cocoa powder & chocolate for a truly luxurious French dessert.


Salted Caramel & Nutella Chocolate Tarts

Ingredients:

Chocolate Sable Dough

175g all-purpose/plain flour
5g almond meal
15g Dutch cocoa powder (I used Valrhona.)
110g unsalted butter, 1.5cm cubes, cold
2 pinches table salt
4g baking powder
75g pure confectioners' / icing sugar, sifted
1 egg (50-55g)
butter for greasing
flour for dusting

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 recipe (room temperature)

Nutella Ganache
100g dark chocolate pieces (I used Valrhona Equatoriale 55%.)
40g nutella (I'll add more the next time.)
125ml heavy cream (I used dairy whip cream.)
whole hazelnuts (toasted & chopped) - for topping

Method:

For the chocolate sable dough:

  1. Place the flour, almond meal and cold butter into a mixing bowl and rub the ingredients between your hands until it forms a sandy texture. This should take a few minutes.
  2. Add the salt, baking powder, sugar and whole eggs, then mix with one hand to make a dough ball. Mix for two minutes until all combined.
  3. Flatted the dough into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before using.
  4. Prepare four 10x2.5cm fluted tart moulds by brushing the inside with softened butter, dust with flour and shake off any excess—this will ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the mould after baking.
  5. Lightly flour a clean surface and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 5 millimetre thickness. Cut out 4 circles of dough using a round cutter with a 13cm diameter. Place a circle over a tart mould & press in the dough lightly with your fingers, from the centre, around the base & then up the sides. Take the rolling pin and roll over the top of the mould - this will cut the top edges, giving you a clean finish. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3. Line the tart base with parchment and baking beans. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes. (I baked mine for 25 minutes.) Allow to cool.

For the Nutella ganache:

In double boiler, combine cream and chocolate pieces, stirring constantly until dissolved and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in Nutella. Set aside.
    To assemble tarts:
    1. Spoon 1-2 tsp (depending on the size of the tart moulds) salted caramel sauce into the pre-baked tart base.
    2. Then pour or spoon the Nutella ganache onto the caramel sauce. Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
    Notes & modifications:
    1. Because of the hot weather, I made sure my butter & flour were cold before mixing. I kept my chopped butter in the freezer & the flour in the fridge before starting to mix. I used a food processor to mix my dough. It's faster than doing it with the hands, thus preventing the butter from melting in the process.
    2. I used two 10-cm heart shape, eight 8-cm round & three 6-cm round tart pans to use up all the dough.
    3. The baked tart is quite fragile, so you need to handle it very carefully when assembling the tarts. To reduce breakages, I chilled the shells first as cold tart shells are not as fragile.
    Chocolate Sable Dough recipe is by Vincent Gadan & Michelle Guberina from Homemade Pâtisserie, Pastry Made Easy.

    I'm linking this post to Cook-Your-Books event no. 16 hosted by Kitchen Flavours.
    I'm also linking this post to the Best Recipes for Everyone, September Event : Chocolate Wonderland, hostedby XuanHom's Mom Kitchen Diary.

    Wednesday, 3 September 2014

    Salted Caramel Sauce

    I must say that salted caramel has become so trendy these days that anything that has salted caramel added just sounds so enticing. Just about any types of sweet desserts  have the salted caramel version, or at least a drizzle of the sauce on top. Just yesterday, my daughter bought a slice of red velvet cake, & in addition to the cake that's layered & covered with cream cheese frosting,  there's also a drizzle of salted caramel sauce to top off the 2-layered cake. Of course, it has to be called Salted Caramel Red Velvet Cake.... It just sounds more appealing.....


    Interestingly, I have not got on the bandwagon yet, until now. I must admit that it's really hard not to follow the crowd when every time I browse through a baking book or go on the social media, salted caramel something just stares at me! So just be prepared with my salted caramel dessert posts, coming up soon... haha!


    I've already had a few recipes in mind but first I need to make the caramel sauce. Although this is my first time making salted caramel sauce, the process is not totally unfamiliar as it's quite similar to preparing the burnt sugar for the Steamed Fruit Cake. The fragrant hot caramelised-sugar smells so familiar....  After pouring the sauce into the bottle, I couldn't help licking the spoon... The sweet & salty sticky sauce brings me back to my childhood days when I loved snacking on those soft caramel candies.


    The recipe that I used is from Sally's Baking Addiction. The caramel sauce is creamy & looks so gorgeous & most importantly, it tastes perfect! The recipe just requires 4 ingredients & the instructions are quite clear. Go to Sally's blog if you'd like to look at the pictures for each of the steps.



    Salted Caramel Sauce

    Ingredients:
    1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
    6 tbsps (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
    1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (I used dairy whipping cream.)
    1 tsp salt

    Method:
    1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-coloured liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
    2. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
    3. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
    4. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using or pour it into a container to store it.  Don't worry if the sauce seems a bit too thin at first, it will thicken as it cools.
    6. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.
    Recipe by Sally's Baking Addiction.
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