[Cakes & Bakes] Vanilla Cupcakes with Honey Passionfruit Frosting

A relative back in Malaysia gave mum several dozens of homegrown passionfruit a week back and I inherited 10 of them.

I’m really lazy with my fruits (I often leave them untouched until they are no long able to be eaten), but I’m quite excited about creating some things with those passionfruit so I decide to freeze the pulp until I need them.

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And with a brush of coincidence, I came across a beautiful Vanilla Sponge Cake with Cream and Passionfruit recipe on Donna Hay magazine. If you’re keen in the recipe, it’s in the latest Fresh issue.

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I used the same recipe, but made 12 cupcakes instead and the Vanilla cupcake base were so amazing. Fluffy, fragrant and very… “eggy”.

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While I was about to start on the cream frosting, I realised that I was out of sour cream, so I decided to improvise on the frosting and took inspiration from my favourite food blogger for a Honey Frosting instead.

Just a note, I used only 2 cups of sugar instead of 3 because my food tasters have pretty low tolerance for sweetness. I’m glad I cut down the sugar because it would have been too sweet if I followed the recipe to a T.

With all these improvisation and deviation, the end product looked nothing like the beautiful sponge on the glossy page of the magazine, but I still liked them enough 🙂 The tangy passionfruit pulp cuts the sweetness of the honey frosting and the crunchy seeds helped to layer the texture.

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“The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

[Cakes & Bakes] Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

My family members have been some of the best supporters for my bakes and I love making things they like, especially for special occasions.

Mum has always been a fan of chocolate banana cakes, especially the one from Secret Recipe. So I’ve long set my mind on baking a choco banana cake for her birthday 🙂

Searched through some recipes and finally decided to make a cupcake version instead as I really wanted to practice my piping.

I pretty much followed the recipe to a T (which is extremely simple) and the cupcakes turned out really moist and fragrant! Some things to share from the experience:

– Make sure the banana is ripe enough so that the aroma and taste are will not be overwhelmed by the chocolate

– I used Valhorna cocoa powder and the chocolate flavour is really rich and intense

– The cupcakes stay moist in the fridge and still tastes pretty good 3 days old

– If you’re lazy or have no time to prepare the frosting, it tastes pretty awesome as a chocolate banana muffin too!

– I sprinkled some chopped almonds on top of the frosting to create some contrast in terms of colour and the texture. The nutty flavour also helps to cut the richness of the cake and frosting

– Washing up after making chocolate-anything is such a back-breaking chore… But it’s worth it 🙂

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

[Moments] Nostalgia

It’s been a week since we returned from our 3.5 weeks long honeymoon.

We’ve been looking forward to it for such a long time, the anticipation made the trip felt ridiculously short when we looked back at it. It almost felt like a dream…

One of the most wonderful part of the trip was the amazing food we got to savour around London and Paris. A couple of Michelin-star restaurants in London, some ultra-popular food and dessert joints and the abundant artisanal hand-made pastries in Paris.

We concluded that we probably spoilt our palates during the trip. We’ll try to update the blog soon with some photos of our food adventure there 🙂

But for now, a simple homely post because I’m sick and stuck at home after a week of mere 4-hr a day sleep for the past week due to jet lag.

We bought a marble cake last night and eating it now reminded me of how my mum loves marble cakes. She used to buy them at least once a week and I’ll get to pack them to school/ work.

It’s odd how food, almost like photos, can pack so much memories and whisk you back to the past in a whim.

My sense of taste is grossly muted by the flu but the rich buttery taste still manages to cut through. I feel like a child again, waking up to breakfast served by mum. Extremely comforting when I’m stuck at home – sick.

I’ll probably try making a marble cake soon (when I’m well enough) and surprise my dearest woman on earth with that 🙂

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“There are a few moments in your life when you are truly and completely happy, and you remember to give thanks. Even as it happens you are nostalgic for the moment, you are tucking it away in your scrapbook.” –  David Benioff

[Moments] Spontaneity

While spontaneous moments are sometimes fun and exciting, I’m not one who embraces impromptu activities with arms wide open. In fact, I sometimes feel lost and aimless in unplanned moments. Or worse, when plans are disrupted.

But I’ve come to realise that it’s also moments like these which inspire creativity and encourage one to try out something new. Maybe because spontaneity carries with it, a certain sense of impulsivity and carelessness. You usually won’t think too much in moments of spontaneity.

Last Sunday, we had a whole series of activities line up but both of us woke up feeling unwell so all the plans got thrown off the track.

Came back from the clinic and had the urge to bake so that the Sunday could be a little more fulfilling.

So I turned to one of the quick-bake recipes which I’ve been wanting to try – Eric Lanlard’s Peanut Butter Blondies

And it was perfect for an impromptu bake because the ingredients were really simple and even more so, the baking process. And it smells so fantastic fresh out of the oven! What’s more, I got to share them with the lovely peeps at the office on Monday 🙂

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“Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art.” – Oscar Wilde

[Gallery] Les Jardins

It’s been some time since our last post because I have been thinking about how to make the blog a little more interesting and personal. I did not want it to be like most of the other food blogs because 1) I’m usually not the one cooking and Wayne cooks in such a  laissez faire manner, it’s not easy for me to blog about the process and 2) cooking and baking are fun, but I find myself always looking forward to the process of photographing the final product and actually spend more effort on it than the cooking itself!

Recently, my interest in foodstyling and food photography have been growing with inspiration from some amazing food magazines, blogs and instagram accounts. I’ve long wanted to take photos of better quality and with more interesting composition but found the quality of the cameras I had rather limiting.

Couple of days back, Wayne finally bought a new DSLR and we’ve been having so much fun with it! For future posts, we’re hoping to showcase more thematic food photos and I hope to experiment with more interesting attempts at food styling.

Some days back, we came home to a sweet surprise at our doorstep from my dear girlfriend, Jia, who just returned from Paris.

A delectable selection of vibrantly colored macarons nestled in a lovely purple box.

2013 Les Jardins Pierre Hermé

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Couldn’t tell you how excited I was, but I had to try so hard to convince myself (and Wayne) not to eat them till I take some lovely photos.

Spent whatever free time I had the next day thinking about how I’d style the shoot. Had such a tough time deciding on the flowers to buy to complement the macarons and this beautiful rustic bunch just stood out. Colorful and full of character but doesn’t steal the show. Perfect!

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Here’s our first (and very amateurish) shot at food photography!

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(the set-up)

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“She was sitting in a garden more beautiful than even her rampaging imagination could ever have conjured up, and she was being serenaded by trees.” ― Lynn Kurland, Spellweaver

[Quick Fix] Blueberry Chocolate Pancakes

Yes, yes, I’m a sweet tooth. And my best bet is chocolate!

Found plain pancakes a little… too plain. So I decided to throw some blueberries and chocolate into the mix.

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I prepared the blueberry pancakes and chocolate pancakes separately because the decision to make the chocolate pancakes was a last minute one.

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Here’s my $1 chocolate from Ikea again! We bought about half a doz of them previously hurhur…

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And when they are done, just stack the blueberry pancakes and chocolate pancakes alternately, slather on some butter, squish tons of golden syrup on top and scatter more blueberries and chocolates all over!

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A sweet treat (with chocolate) is good at anytime, especially for breakfast!

And it takes about the same effort as making a plain pancake!

[Quick Fix] Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Had a tough time deciding if I should categorise this under Sweet Treat or under Quick Fix, because it’s both, really!

We received a box of lovely lovely long-stemed strawberries from my mother-in-law (MIL, for future entries) over the weekends and while munching on it during tea time today, I realised they are just PERFECT for dipping!

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It costs about $18 for 500g of strawberries, but they taste really great. Crunchy, sweet, slight tartness, and really fleshy.

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I used dark chocolate from IKEA which costs less than $1 a bar and tastes so good when melted (I’ll probably do another post on the awesome stuff you can get at IKEA because there are just so many hidden treasures!).

 

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I felt this odd sense of tranquility when I was stirring the chocolate over the hot water bath. It’s unbelievably therapeutic.

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Before dipping, I kept the washed strawberries in the fridge and brought them out just before dipping so that the chocolate can set quicker due to the temperature difference.

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The whole process was so quick and easy, it took barely 15 mins, I guess? I was enjoying the process so much I forgot to check the time!

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After popping the nicely dipped strawberries into the fridge and waiting for it to set, what do you do with excess melted chocolate?

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Pray hard you have chilled bananas at home!

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And to thank the lovely MIL who has always been providing us with our weekly dose of anti-oxidents, we’re gonna leave these as a little surprise for her when she visits!

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If you have some strawberries and chocolates at home (some extra bananas will be even better), go prepare a warm water bath and start melting away!

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