Food & Drink

Chocolate Banana Bread

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What’s better than banana bread?  Chocolate banana bread, of course!  This is also a one bowl recipe, which is a huge plus.  Although this is probably better as a dessert, I have managed to convince myself that this is perfectly acceptable as breakfast.

Chocolate Banana Bread

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a large glass mixing bowl, melt butter in microwave (or double boiler).  Remove from heat.  Add the bananas and use a fork or potato masher, mash the bananas until no large lumps remain.  Add egg, yogurt, and sugar, using the fork to incorporate.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Food & Drink

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

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It seems like every few posts, I’m complaining about the weather.  Well, today we’ll hit 89°F here in Philadelphia.  My poor dog is laying on the tile kitchen floor with the fan blasting in his face.

When it gets this hot, I seldom want to bake, since heating up the house is probably the last thing I want.  But what happens when I really want dessert?  I turn to my slow cooker, of course!

I really love slow cookers as alternatives to baking because it does a wonderful job of creating a crispy texture (for certain recipes) and it does it without heating up the house!

Today, I’m sharing my apple crisp recipe for the slow cooker.  My house currently smells like cinnamon and apples, my favorite!

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Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 6 apples
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Method

  1. Peel, core, and slice apples into thin slices.  Place in a slow cooker along with granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Toss gently to coat apples with spices and sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and melted butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Spread evenly over sliced apples.
  3. Place lid on the slow cooker and set the cooking temperature to LOW for 3-4 hours, and then remove the lid and cook for an additional hour, or until apples are soft and crumbles are crispy.

Food & Drink

Matcha Milkshake

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Today we got the first glimpses of summer, aka the high 70s and humid.  We do a lot of home improvement stuff on weekends, so we’re always working up a sweat.  I craved something sweet but didn’t want to bake anything and further heat up our house … milkshake it is!

I love, love, love homemade milkshakes because I am uber picky about the consistency.  Making it at home guarantees that I’ll drink something that I really enjoy.  Today, I whipped up some matcha milkshakes for Ian and myself after a long day of doing electrical work.

Matcha Milkshake

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tb matcha powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1 tsp honey

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Recipe notes:

  • How much milk and ice cream you use will really depend on how hard your ice cream is and what the consistency you’d like the finished product to be.  My ice cream was hard with little air bubbles, so my milkshake consistency was a thick, smoothie-like texture.  If you like it thinner or thicker, just add either milk or ice cream until you reach desired consistency.

Food & Drink

Angel Food Cake

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Okay, so this past 2 weeks, I’ve been making so many recipes that require egg yolks.  So now I’m left with an overrun mason jar of egg whites.  There are only so many egg whites omelets I can eat.  I thought the easiest way to get rid of egg whites fast is by making an angel food cake.

I decided to decorate this angel food cake like a Japanese-style strawberry shortcake, which is probably my favorite cake to make.  I made this into a 3-layer cake, each layer sandwiching cream and strawberries.  Ugh it’s so good.

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Angel Food Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
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Ingredients

Angel food cake

  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup egg whites

Topping

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb strawberries, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur

Method

  1. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until still peaks.  Add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla extract, mix well.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour and sugar.  Repeat this 5x.  Slowly add cake flour mixture to egg whites, a little at a time, gently fold with a spatula with each addition.  Pour cake batter into angel food cake pan (if you don’t have an angel food cake pan, you can use a makeshift one, see below!)
  3. Place on the middle rack in a cool oven.  Turn oven on to 325°F.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Turn baked cake upside-down on a cooling rack.  Cool for about 1 hour before removing from pan.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks.  Add vanilla extract and salt.  Whip until combined.
  5. Slice the cake horizontally with a serrated knife into 1/3’s.  Put the base layer on your serving tray.  Using a pastry brush, dab orange liqueur sparingly over the top of the cake layer.  Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream, and layer with strawberries.  Repeat with the remaining layers.  If you have extra whipped cream, use it to pipe around the edges

Recipe notes

  • If you don’t have an angel food cake pan, no worries!  I used this awesome tutorial from Epicurious and I fashioned a makeshift pan out of a springform.  Basically, you use an old soda can, fill it halfway with water and wrap it in parchment paper.  Then you line the bottom of your springform pan with parchment paper and cut a starburst slit in the middle so your soda can fits (the Epicurious site has illustrations).

Food & Drink

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I did a thing!

So let’s back up, in February I went on a family trip to Monterey, California.  There, we stayed at Portola Hotel & Spa.  The hotel itself is nice and all, but the best part was this massive oatmeal chocolate chip cookie they greet you with at the front desk.  This is not an exaggeration, it was the best cookie I’ve ever had.  My entire family thought so.  It was so good that we’d sneak down to the lobby and ask for seconds throughout our stay.

Luckily, the packaging had a list of ingredients: brown sugar, pastry flour, rolled oats, chocolate chips, butter, eggs, milk, salt, baking powder, baking soda.  I knew my task once I went home, I was going to recreate these amazing chocolate chip cookies.

Back home, I got to experimenting.  I first scoured the internet for a copycat recipe, but there weren’t any.  There was a YouTube video on their page talking about the cookies and there’s a brief overview of them making it.  But it was in massive quantities so it was hard to translate that for the home cook.  But what I got from the video was the steps that went into making these babies, and boy … they are quite different from your regular cookies!  The weirdest thing you might notice is combining the oats with eggs and milk in the beginning.  In my opinion, I think what this does is it softens the oats a lot so when you eat it, it’s not this sharp and hard bit that you’re biting into.  So here’s my ode (and attempt) at recreating the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

P.S. One of my favorite episodes of Friends is the one Monica tries to figure out Phoebe’s family recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  So if this recipe is basically Betty Crocker’s, please don’t tell me because I’ll be absolutely gutted.  Lol.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and vanilla extract.  Add rolled oats to the egg mixture and use a spoon to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine pastry flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Add oat mixture and the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until well incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and mix until just mixed.  Divide dough into 8 large balls.  Flatten gently on the cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and there are cracks on top of the cookies.

Food & Drink

Tiger Skin Swiss Roll

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I didn’t get to celebrate with my mom since we live on opposite coasts of the country.  But in reflecting about my childhood with my mom, I am often brought back to going to Asian grocery stores (mainly 99Ranch).  Like most grocery stores, Asian grocery stores often come equipped with a bakery section that churns out cakes and pastries.  One of my family’s favorite was the tiger skin swiss roll (虎皮蛋糕).  Maybe it’s because my brother’s zodiac is the tiger?  I’m not sure, but we always pick one up for special occasions and celebrations.

I never attempted tiger skin rolls because I thought it would be difficult.  The construction of it clearly indicates that it is formed from 2 types of cakes.  There is the normal sponge in a swiss roll and the outer layer that forms the tiger stripes.  I decided to tackle that challenge and bake a tiger skin swiss roll.

From my research, I have learned that the tiger skin portion is baked from cornstarch in lieu of flour.  Cornstarch will cook very fast and form the crinkle that resembles tiger stripes that traditional cakes cannot.  The rest of the cake is fairly straightforward.  It might seem complicated from the lengthy instructions, but I promise this cake is quite simple and well worth the effort!

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Tiger Skin Swiss Roll

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

Chocolate Swiss Roll

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 2 Tb cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tb unsalted butter

Tiger Skin Roll

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Whipped Cream Filling

  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Make the swiss roll: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a 9×13 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwavable bowl, heat milk and butter until butter is melted.  Set aside.  In a large heatproof bowl, beat together eggs and sugar for about 2-3 minutes.  Place the bowl over a double boiler, and continue beating until the mixture is thick and pale (and pass the figure 8 test).  Sift in cake flour and cocoa powder and fold using a spatula.  Lastly, fold in melted butter and milk.  Bake in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the texture is spongy and has a slight bounce when you tap it.
  3. Cool the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes, then lift the cake out of the pan, and gently roll the cake loosely to resemble a swiss roll.  Place the cake seam side down and allow it to cool completely while holding this shape.  This will help the cake “remember” the roll later.
  4. Make the tiger skin: Preheat oven to “broil” setting.  Line a 9×13 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  5. Beat together egg yolks, cornstarch, and powdered sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes.  Pour prepared mixture on prepared pan.  Place on center rack in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes.  Watch the cake very diligently!  When you are happy with the shading of the tiger stripes, take it out.  Repeat step #3 (cooling and rolling process) with this cake as well.
  6. While cakes are cooling, prepared whipped cream filling.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together heavy whipping cream and sugar until light and fluffy, just shy of stiff peaks.  Beat in vanilla extract.
  7. Unroll the cooled chocolate swiss roll and spread about 2/3 of the whipped cream all over the inside of the swiss roll.  Roll it back tightly, pulling away from the parchment paper as you roll.  When you are done rolling, put it seam side down.
  8. Unroll the tiger skin roll.  Spread the remaining whipped cream over the inside.  Place finished chocolate swiss roll on top of the tiger skin roll and roll it tightly.  Again, place seam side down.  Allow cake to retain shape in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe notes:

  • If your oven broiler has options for Hi/Lo, make sure to set it to low to have more control when baking the outer layer.

Food & Drink

Waffle Cookies

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A while back, I was perusing the aisles of Whole Foods when I discovered their cookie section in the bakery.  It was basically a display case of a few dozen options for cookies.  I immediately gravitated towards these waffle cookies.  They were these bite-sized cookies and just so darn cute.  However, at $11.99/lb, I was quickly brought back to reality and I walked away, super sad that I was cookie-less.

I haven’t stopped thinking about those waffles and wondered how I can achieve those at home.  I have a waffle maker.  I know how to make cookies.  I donned on my apron and go to experimenting.  These cookies needed a little bit more butter because they need all the help they can get in crisping up since the cooking time on these is super quick.

Waffle Cookies

  • Servings: 2-3 dozen cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and both sugars until creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder.  Beat until well-mixed.
  2. Preheat waffle iron on the highest setting.  Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray.  Drop a tablespoon of cookie batter on each well/section of the waffle maker (I have 4 sections to my waffle maker, so each time I make 4 cookies).
  3. When the waffle maker indicates the “waffle” is finished, lift and check for browning.  If it’s too light, continue cooking, checking every 10 seconds.  Remove the waffles when done and transfer to a cooling rack (it’ll be soft when you first take it out of the waffle maker and it’ll crisp up as it cools).  Repeat until you finish cooking all the cookies.