Archive for February, 2010

I made some cupcakes this week and turned to my most trusted references for help.  Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake recipe, found here, is interesting in that you cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients.  Most cake recipes require 5 minutes of creaming butter and sugar, but Billy’s technique is reminiscent of scones, soda bread and biscuit.  I like it because you do not need to leave the butter out to soften as the butter warms when cubed.  I also like that some cupcakes get actual chunks of butter.  I modified the original recipe by decreasing the sugar and increasing the vanilla.  Overall, they had a cake-like texture similar to teacakes, very different from the chocolate cupcakes below.

Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes

1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

I also made some matcha cupcakes by substituting 2 tablespoons matcha powder for the vanilla extract in Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes.  These were everyone’s favorite by far.  I would, however, like to experiment with a softer green tea cupcake with a more tender crumb, similar to the moister chocolate recipe below.

These cupcakes were decadent with an intense chocolate flavor, but I found them too salty.  I modified the original recipe by decreasing the sugar and the salt.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

makes 36 cupcakes/adapted from Epicurious

3 oz. (1/2 cup) fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee
2 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line cupcake wells with fluted paper liners or butter cake pans and line with parchment paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed, bracing yourself against puffs of cocoa-and-flour dust, until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes, or 50 to 70 minutes for larger cakes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cakes completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and remove cupcakes, or invert larger cakes onto racks. If making larger cakes, carefully remove wax paper. Cakes may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.


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Stained Glass Jello

These jewel-like beauties were made by my dear friend Julia, the one who introduced me to mochi cake, Berkeley Bowl, Naan ‘n Curry, and the world of good eats in general.  Graced with an eye for beauty as well as a discerning palate, she is the inspiration for many of my edible projects.  This recipe for Broken Glass Jello, which I prefer to call Stained Glass Jello, comes from here.

Stained Glass Jello


4-3 oz. boxes Jell-O
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 envelopes Knox gelatin


Dissolve each box of jello in one cup boiling water.  Pour into a container and chill until firm (at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.)
When firm, cut each batch of jello into small blocks.  Carefully mix the blocks in a 9 x 13 pan.

Sprinkle Knox gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water.  Once the gelatin blooms, add 1 1/2 cups boiling water to fully dissolve the gelatin.  Add the condensed milk, stir and cool.  Pour the condensed milk mixture over jello cubes and chill overnight.

Note: Julia said she would double the condensed milk later next time as we all felt there was not enough of the precious creamy gelatin.

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Floating Pastries

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Yogurt Cake

Gâteau au Yaourt

– 2 eggs
– 250ml (1 cup) whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (if you use two 125ml or 4oz tubs, you can use them to measure out the rest of the ingredients)
– 200g (1 cup) sugar (you can use an empty tub of yogurt and measure the equivalent of 2 yogurt tubs if you used the 125ml or 4oz kind)
– 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (or a bit less than 1 yogurt tub)
– 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 4 yogurt tubs)
– 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste/extract
– 1 tablespoon light rum

Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F), line the bottom of a round 25-cm (10-inch) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and rum. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together — don’t overwork the dough. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.

Courtesy of this beautiful blog.

I use 1/2 brown sugar, plain nonfat yogurt, and add any fruit I have on hand.  I serve it warm with more yogurt or vanilla ice cream.

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Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

If you have 1½ cups buttermilk on hand:
1½ tsp. unflavored gelatin
½ cup milk, not skim, but 1% and up
½ cup sugar
1½ cups buttermilk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

If you have 1 cup buttermilk on hand:
1 tsp. gelatin
6 T. milk
6 T. sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 tsp. vanilla

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup (or 3 tablespoons if using 1 cup of buttermilk) of water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. In a saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling, 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in gelatin mixture, then buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour into 4 or 6-oz ramekins* and chill until set, 3 hours.

3. To serve, run a knife around edge of ramekin, place a plate on top, flip over and gently shake to turn out onto plate.
Garnish with some fresh berries.

*Note: Pour into any vessel you have. If using tall, narrow glasses, do not worry about inverting. Serve right in the glass. Keeps well in the fridge for at least a week.

Courtesy of this beautiful blog.

This dessert is ridiculously easy and effortlessly elegant.  The friend who shared her mochi cake recipe made this once for a reception, along with sparkling cranberries, and I fell in love the refreshingly tart and creamy texture of the panna cotta.  She makes it with heavy whipping cream instead of milk, and I (of course) cut the sugar to 3/4 cup for 3 cups of buttermilk.

This one is a keeper.  Even my father, the hater of all things even remotely sour, loved it.

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The original street food

In anticipation of the first annual LA Street Food Festival, a gathering of LA’s finest food trucks — including ice cream and ice pops, pizza, bbq, burgers and tacos — I would like to share some of my dad’s favorite childhood foods.

These red bean filled pastries are cooked in a cast iron pan, similar to the pans used for madeleines.  They are not baked, however, but cooked to completion in the hot cast iron.  The guy pipes the batter into the molds, scrapes some red bean into the center, pipes a little more batter to cover the filling, and then covers the circular openings.  The first photo is of ho dduk, fried rice cakes filled with sweet, sticky, nutty deliciousness.  It is by far my dad’s favorite Korean street food.  We used to go to the truck in front of the Korean market, and I remember enjoying many piping hot cakes after a long, rainy day at school.  Sadly, the truck no longer visits anymore.  This post is a tribute to the original street food, the food of our immigrant parents.

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Camouflage Cupcakes

I had extra cream cheese frosting from the banana cake I made last week, so I decided to make red velvet cupcakes.  However, I read that food coloring is not particularly healthful, and I also did not want to spend more money on the food coloring than the rest of the ingredients.  Therefore, I omitted the food coloring and ended up with light brown (read: poop-colored) cupcakes.  To clarify, they looked like camouflage because I did not fully incorporate the baking soda/vinegar mixture.  They smelled, tasted and felt delightful, so I was very happy.

I can see the appeal of red velvet, however.  These were slightly less fun to eat because they were not a deep red color.  It was actually kind of trippy because they looked like some combination of matcha and chocolate but tasted more like vanilla like chocolate.  I remember thinking that chocolate and vanilla were opposites, and thus mutually exclusive, as a child, and I was astonished when I first discovered that vanilla extract is found in most chocolate recipes.  I credit my misunderstanding to the simplistic teachings relying upon pairs and opposites, antonyms and synonyms, and other forms of categorizing.

I researched quite a few recipes, and it is interesting how so many recipes end up being similar.  This was the most common recipe I found.


2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles) or 4 oz beet juice (if you use unprocessed light cocoa you can leave out the food dyes and you’ll get a warm red/brown color)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins or silicone pans with cupcake liners.

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful as it will fizz so don’t do it in a shallow bowl. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are a little under 3/4 full. I ended up with 20 cupcakes. Place muffin tins in your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20, rotating pans halfway through. The cupcakes are done when you are able to pat the tops and the cake springs back up. If it sinks down they are not yet complete. Or you can insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake in the center of the tin and if it comes out clean they are done!

5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

6. Enjoy!

My changes:

  • 1 cup white sugar

I’ve also been experimenting with home remedies utilizing baking soda and vinegar.  My mom and I clean out smelly jars with vinegar, and I scrubbed my sinks and shower walls with baking soda water.

Next up: buttermilk panna cotta, courtesy of friend who gave me the original mochi cake recipe.

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