No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

Here’s the recipe I tried straight from the Magnolia creamcheese box. It’s really simple and easy to follow. Try it and you won’t regret!

NO BAKE BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) softened butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice and grated rind

optional:

A Slice of Yummyness!

A Slice of Yummyness!

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon ground nuts

Cheesecake filling:
1 box Magnolia cream cheese, softened
1 pack Nestle all purpose cream, chilled
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh or Alaska evap milk
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (1 sachet of Knox)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Topping:
1 can Comstock Blueberry pie filling

Procedure:
To prepare crust:
If you don’t have store-bought crumbs, you can crush them. You can use a food processor for faster result.
Mix all dry ingredients and add butter to bind. blend well. It should be moist and not dry. Add more butter if it’s too dry.

Transfer and press evenly on bottom of ungreased springform pan or pie dish around 8-9 inches in diameter.  Place in the freezer to harden crust while you are make the filling.

To prepare filling:
Using a mixer, whip chilled cream with 2 tablespoon sugar until stiff. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, gradually mix remaining sugar into softened cream cheese. Beat until fluffy and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine milk and gelatine powder and stir in low heat. Mix well until completely dissolved. Do not boil. You can use a wire whisk while heating to remove lumps. Remove from heat then pour and beat into cream cheese mixture.
Fold in cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream and beat on medium to high.
Add lemon juice if you want some zest in your cream filling.

To assemble:
Bring out pan from freezer and pour in the cheesecake filling. Spread evenly with spatula and tap pan lightly to set and release some air bubbles.
Cover pan and chill for a few hours.
Top with blueberry pie filling or chosen fruit before serving.

Credit to:
http://www.mymomfriday.com/2010/12/mom-cook-no-bake-blueberry-cheesecake.html

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Why Fry When You Can Bake Your Doughnuts

Baked doughnuts with chocolate glaze

Baked doughnuts with chocolate glaze

Who would not want to have a mother who loves good home baking? I for one is quite blessed to have someone who was not just fond of cooking but baking as well. The aroma of freshly made doughnuts, breads and pastries would usually fill our dining room. We would rush to the table and leave everything behind to have the taste of something hot and oozing with great taste. And now that I am a mother with two toddlers roaming around the room, I constantly think of what good food I can serve them.  With growing and always hungry boys, they are always excited to see what I am baking. And since one old time favourite came to mind, I decided to make some doughnuts and do a twist with the normal fried ones and instead bake them. I want to make it more healthier and more bread-like appeal to it.

I came across with this recipe which I adapted from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001561.html and from http://shaunasever.com/2010/03/baked-doughnuts-yes.html.  This  is really quite simple and easy. I have also added some tips to keep in mind while baking.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm milk, divided, 95 to 105 degrees (take its temperature–too hot and it will kill the yeast)
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast (about half a packet)
1 tablespoon butter or shortening, melted and still warm
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

For the cinnamon-sugar coating:

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner’s sugarlet the dough rise for an hour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water or as needed

*Makes about 1 dozen of regular size or 2 dozens of mini doughnuts

Place 3 tablespoons of the warm milk (not overly hot to the touch) in the bowl of an electric mixert. You don’t want to kill the yeast.  Stir in the yeast and set aside for at least five minutes (or until foamy).

Place the remaining 1/2 cup of warm milk in a small bowl, stir in the butter and sugar, and add it to the yeast mixture. On low speed, stir in the egg, flour, nutmeg, and salt – just until the flour is incorporated.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. At this point, make a few adjustments – if your dough is seriously sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add a little bit of milk. Eventually, you want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and become soft and smooth. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface, knead it a few times by hand, and shape it into a smooth ball.  Knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.doughnut dough risen

Transfer the dough to a greased or oiled bowl (cooking spray works great here), cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until its doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on a floured work surface. The dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.

Dip your doughnut cutter or use your 2-3 inch cookie cutter before you  stamp out the circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cut holes in the centers with a smaller cutter.  Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let the doughnuts rise for another 30 minutes.

http://www.pillsbury.com/-/media/PB/Images/holidays-celebrations/spring/grands-spring-doughnuts-how-to/grands-spring-doughnuts-how-to_02.ashx

cut the dough in circles

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, about 8 minutes – start checking around 6 minutes. Better to underbake then overbake here–pull them early if in doubt. Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Add the sugar coating or dip into the glaze.

For the cinnamon coating:

While the doughnuts are baking, melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugars and cinnamon in a separate bowl (or large ziploc bag), stirring to blend evenly.

For the glaze:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Set aside.

Tips:

You may add a pinch of sugar into the warm milk to make the yeast more active. I read that the yeast loves to feed on sugar.

If you don’t have a cutter, just use two different sizes of round cutters at least the other cutter is half the size to have a more defined hole in the centre.

You can either dip the baked doughnut or add some fillings to to it.

Happy Baking!

Leche Puto or Steamed Custard Cake

One of my favourite pinoy desserts is leche flan!  How much more if you put two pinoy favourite merienda treats together? And voila! you Have the LECHE PUTO or the custard steamed cake. All you have to do is use a steamer. So easy to make even if you don’t have an oven. This is a great snacks/dessert for all ages.  You can bring this to any party. Who would say no to a milky and caramel  sweet delight!

Ingredients:

For the flan:Leche Puto

4 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk (395g)
2 tsps lemon/calamansi juice or 1 tsp lemon extract

For the puto:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
4 eggwhites (about 2/3 cup)
1¼ cups water

1 tsp vanilla

a few drops of yellow liquid food colouring (optional)

 

1.  Prepare the flan first.  In a small bowl, mix together the eggyolks and condensed milk.  Add in the lemon juice or extract. Remove any bubbles. Then put in your plastic sauce container for easy pouring

2. Heat water in bottom pan of steamer until water boils rapidly.

3. Grease puto molds then put the flan mixture into each mould, filling each about 1/3 full and cook in LOW HEAT for 5-7 minutes only. It should look solid and slightly firm enough to your touch. Then remove from heat and set aside.

4.  Prepare all the dry ingredients, sift, and mix together.

5. Slightly beat the egg whites and add the water. Then pour the dry ingredients and mix together. DO NOT overmix.

6. Put the batter inside the plastic sauce container and add the liquid batter to the flan until almost full.

7. Bring back to a boil your water and LOWER THE HEAT before steaming back the prepared puto molds. Cook for 10 minutes and let it cool.

8. Use a thin knife to remove the leche puto, invert and tap a little before putting in prepared baking liners.

Happy steaming!

 

Adapted from: http://pinoyinoz.blogspot.com/2014/04/leche-puto.html

 

TIPS:

Do not overcook the leche flan.   The flan should remain creamy yet firm enough to hold its shape.

Get yourself these inexpensive plastic sauce dispensers.  It makes filling up the moulds so much easier and cleaner.

Wrap steamer cover with a towel to remove any dripping water directly to the prepared flan & puto.plastic sauce dispenser

Bicol Express (Beware: hotness at its best!)

Bicol Express

As a Bicolano, it is expected that I am  fond of eating hot and spicy food. I used to watch my mother and some of our family friends prepare this special dish.  And through the years, I have been preparing this for my family and friends. This is also a great appetizer for parties and pasalubong for friends who love spicy food.

Here’s my own version of the famous Bicol express. Please try it and enjoy cooking!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoon cooking oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, minced

1 cup thick coconut cream

2 cups thin coconut milk

1 cup shrimp paste

1/2 kilo pork belly, diced

4 cups sliced siling mahaba or chili pepper

ground black pepper

*Optional

1 cup sliced sigarilyas (winged bean) or string beans

1 small piece of sliced ginger

1-3 siling labuyo or red hot small chill peppers

This is good for 6-8 people. Preparation and cooking time: 40-60 minutes

Directions:

   1.      Slice the chilli peppers in a slanting manner. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Set aside.

           *If you want to lessen the spiciness, you can shake and  remove the seeds while rinsing.

    2.     Heat the pan and pour the cooking oil.

    3.     Saute’ garlic and onion.

   4.     Add the pork and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

    5.     Pour the thin coco milk in. Bring to a boil and stir.

    6.     Put the shrimp paste, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    7.     Pour in thick coconut cream and let it boil until half the liquid has evaporated.

    8.    Put the chili peppers (and the vegetables) and cook until oil comes out from the cream.

    9.    Season with black pepper.

  10.     Serve hot.

Tips: Make sure to put on plastic gloves before you slice the chilli peppers to ensure your hand will not have any burning sensation.

         I heard that it’s good to soak the chilli peppers in cold water with salt or pour hot water after slicing.

If you want to know where the term “Bicol Express” originated, here’s a good read:

http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/who-invented-the-incendiary-bicol-expres

 

Cream Puffs

I fell in love with baking because of cream puff. It’s made of lots of eggs and you can be creative with the shape or have your own filling in custard, bavarian, chocolate, pudding, fruit jam, etc.  For a first-timer, this is not so hard to make. Your family and friends will surely love it. Enjoy baking!
Cream Puffs

Yield: Makes 2-3 dozen puffs, depending on size

Cream Puffs

Ingredients:

For the choux dough:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
    • 5 oz all purpose flour (1 cup)
    • pinch of salt
    • 4 extra large eggs (or 5 large)
For the pastry cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
  2. Place the water and butter in a saucepan and melt over medium high heat. Dump the flour and salt in all at once and stir, on the heat, for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and the dough falls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the dough to a food processor and let it cool for five minutes. Then add all the eggs. Pulse the mixture until the dough is smooth and has incorporated the eggs. The dough should look like a super thick cake batter.
  3. Transfer this choux dough into a piping pag and pipe out small mounds of dough, about an inch in diameter, and about 1/2 inch tall. They will puff up considerably and you don’t want to make them too tall. Bake for about 25 minutes until the puffs are golden brown, then remove them from the oven and use a knife to poke a small hole into each of the puffs. This will let the steam escape and prevent our puffs from getting soggy. Let them cool completely before filling. That means it’s a good time to start making our pastry cream!
  4. Scald the milk in a saucepan over medium high heat (you want to cook the milk to about 180 degrees F, when little bubbles start to form on the side of the pan. This is the stage before a boil). While the milk heats up, whisk to combine 1/2 cup sugar, the egg yolks, and cornstarch. Once the milk has come to the right temperature, slowly dribble the milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly, then return all of the liquid to the pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for the next minute or two, until the mixture comes to a boil and the mixture thickens up considerably. Remove the pastry cream from the heat and stir in the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust vanilla and salt levels if needed.
  5. If you’re adding the whipped cream, let the pastry cream cool completely before you start whipping the cream. To whip the cream, combine the heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp sugar in a bowl and whip with either a hand mixer or a whisk until it forms soft peaks. Fold this mixture gently into the pastry cream to lighten it. You can now fill the puffs with this mixture. Enjoy!

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/cream-puffs/

From Eating to Baking with a Little Dash of Love

Passion for baking

Passion for baking


Without food we cannot go on living. Without great cooks we don’t know the difference between what’s mouth-watering from just plain edible food. We can be motivated to eat by just the presentation, smell and taste. A happy tummy means you have a satisfied smile over a plate of good food. And that is what I want when I prepare food. I like to bring great delight in every bite. I want to prepare cakes and sweet giveaways that would satisfy the celebrant and guests. My wish is that I can take part in  celebration of one’s milestone or special occasion like birthdays, dedication or christening, graduations, etc. or simply make a wonderful surprise with a sweet treat.

So how did I get into baking when all I wanted ever since I was a kid was to have my stomach filled with food when I get hungry and have my dessert afterwards? It all started when I was young who had a mother who loved to cook and baked with “a little dash of love.”I used to watch my mother prepare the food on the table. I  observed how she diligently looked for the fresh and crisp vegetables, smelled and touched the meat and looked at the gills of the fish to make sure they were red and firm. My recollection of her cooking always brought happy thoughts of a satisfied stomach. With all my eagerness to learn, my mother was helpful enough to teach me what to prepare and shared  her step-by-step instructions of a “wannabe chef.” She even prepared recipes that were handwritten that served as memento that I still use up to now (sort of like a family recipe to me).

One thing that I would never forget was her passion for cooking. She said that “cooking is about your expression of love to someone.” She always had an empty pepper shaker where she would religiously use before serving a dish or after baking a sweet treat. It was a symbol of “adding a dash of love”  which remained imbedded in my heart.

I heard her story that she was an ugly duckling who turned into a beautiful swan when it came to cooking. People used to comment about what was lacking or overly done with the taste and sight of her “disastrous” dishes. It served as a challenge for her. She made up her mind that she could be a good cook. She enrolled in short courses in home economics, learned tips from the experts, asked her friends how to cook a certain dish and get the recipe that she liked so that she could try it at home. With so many trials and errors and her great dedication to serve good food, she made her cooking right and got ripe for compliments. From that time on, I heard people talked about how good she was and how satisfied they were with the food she prepared. From a simple afritada to complicated cassava cake with custard sauce and macapuno toppings. Everything was prepared from scratch. No ready mix for her. Then she was able to concoct her own desserts. She had  her own coconut surprise balls and chocolate-dipped bread sticks to wow the kids in our neighborhood. Parties at home would never be the same again. Our guests had their own share of the take-out of the leftover food with their own tupperware containers or  desserts wrapped in aluminum foil or placed in bottles.

My mother really served as an inspiration to me. She was really a great inspiration to me. I liked the way she taught  me. She allowed me to watch her intently the way she cooked vegetables, prepared the pasta sauce, different ways to slice the meat, how hot the oven, taught me the terminologies that seemed to overwhelmed me during our cooking sessions. When the dish was served, she would let me smell the aroma of the food and tried to figure out the taste (just like in the movie, “Ratatouille”). She showed me how it was done and when it was my turn to cook, commented on whether I was doing it right or I was putting too little or too much of the condiments or I was under or over cooking a particular ingredient.

That was how I learned to cook and bake. And here are some tips that
could serve as a guide to anyone who wants to start cooking or baking:

1. Try to cook your favorite dish or bake the cake that you’ve  always wanted

Starting with your favorite cake will get you motivated. The first dish that I learned to cook was adobo because I really loved it. I guess you are not a Filipino if you don’t eat this. So I kept cooking the dish again and again until I made it right. I asked for the opinion of my siblings until they told me it was delicious enough that they were asking for more.

2. Get two to three recipes of a certain dish or pastry

It is good to look for different recipes of the same food so that you can see the type of ingredients  and their measurements. Adding an egg can change the taste of your cake. Using butter is different from oil. You will be able to distinguish the taste, texture, smell, appearance etc. until you are satisfied with the outcome of your home goodness. You can do some variations too and make the recipe your own and it can become a “trade secret” or “family recipe” that you can pass on to your children just like what my mom did to me.

3. Be educated

When interested to cook or bake? Enroll in school and make a career out of it. You can also take short-courses handled by Heny Sison, Dorothy Fereira, Chef Gonzales or Chef Boy, etc. Watch TV channels that showcase the talents of chefs all across the globe from any country or cuisine that you like. You can even have your  self-study through YouTube.  Nowadays, there are a lot of online courses for free or for minimal fee you can have an access to their video tutorials. Ask a recipe from a friend and tell him/her to show you how it is made.  Go to forums to learn more about the comments and suggestions of great chefs and bakers. You can even post your questions and who knows someone might give an answer to your query.

Do your own research and learn more about the world of food, cooking, baking and every kind of ingredient that you can think of and dare to explore something new or a different kind of taste of fusion of different dishes. Sky is the limit. No one can stop you from learning even from scratch. I always wanted to learn how to create cake designs but I did not know how. So I asked my friend to let me know how to make fondant (sweet dough that you can mold with your hands and hardens enough as it dries). I also enrolled in a baking school to enhance what I know about fondant making.

The hindrance that I can think of why you may not be able to do it? The answer could be lack of time and confidence. If you make a way andset aside a particular time to do it and make it happen. If you want it, you can have it if you will it. Tell yourself, ” I need to do it because I want it.”

4. Be ready to get cut, sliced, burned or frustrated

Don’t be afraid to be cut, sliced or  burned. This is but normal. But as you are careful with how you prepare the food and handle the ingredients, you can minimize the damage and protect your body from any harm. Remember that you are dealing with sharp knives and hot stove or oven. No matter how careful you are, accidents do happenIf you are frustrated that you did not get it right the first time you did it that’s okay. Right practice makes it perfect.

5. Never stop cooking or baking

When my mother died, my wanting to cook also went with her. It took awhile until such time I was reminded of the very reason why I need to cook more than just feed my family. I know it was my love for my family that resurrected my desire to bake again. It was a simple wish from my sister to bake her cream puffs that made me got on my feet and open the door of my ever reliable my portable electric oven of 20 years! As they say, the rest is history and now I am back to baking and learning new recipes to wow my family, friends and clients of my home-cooked goodness and baked creations.

cream puffs: first ever pastries I learned to bake

cream puffs: first ever pastries I learned to bake

6. Turn your hobby into business

With all the compliments that my mother got from the people around her, it motivated her to turn it into a business. Her hobby became a lucrative source of income. From our home, we got a lot of orders of her merienda treats like cassava cake, ube jam, or doughnuts, etc. Then finally, she had the courage to open her own small bakery. She hired a baker to teach her the basics of bread making until she employed workers to help her with the operation of her bread and pastry business. She was able to turn her dream into reality.

I think there will always be an entrepreneurial spirit in any of us. All we need to do is find what we want to have, study the market, create a dish/pastry/cake that’s highly saleable in the market and voila! You have your own story to share of your humble beginnings. Who knows your recipe and your restaurant or bakeshop will be sought after. People will always be reminded of how well you served the food, the way you presented their plate of good food and how you have tickled their appetite and kept them coming back for more orders.

Or if you’re still unsure of putting up your own “large-scale” business venture, you may opt to try to get orders from relatives, friends, officemates and classmates. Do samplings or taste-test of your dish or baked goodies. You can join bazaar or do online business by having your own Facebook page or join groups or communities where you can sell your product. As long as you have time to do it, you can start anytime.

So what are you waiting for? Get a recipe, learn to cook and start a hobby and maybe even go on a business venture. You will never know if you are a great cook or a talented baker if you don’t do it. Be the chef that you’ve always want to be. By God’s grace you will know if you are cut out for cooking or baking if you are surrounded with people who were carrying satisfied smile, full stomach and with empty plates of the food and dessert that you served.

Here are some baked creations that I made for my friends! You can also do these and you may be a better baker than me. I hope I served as an inspiration to you. Remember, always add a little dash of love when you cook or bake. It will surely make a whole lot of difference when you do it with love!

booties cupcakes

booties cupcakes

floral birthday cake

floral birthday cake

guitar cake topper

What’s the difference of natural cocoa from the Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

natural cocoa vs. Dutch-processed cocoa powder

natural cocoa vs. Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Now that I have been using different brands and types of cocoa powder, I felt that I have to research what’s best type to use when it comes to baking sweet treats. So I stumble upon a lot of articles and reasons for using which kind of cocoa that would fit your recipe.

Natural cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that are simply roasted, then pulverized into a fine powder. It is used in recipes that require baking soda (alkali). Known brands are Hershey’s or Ghirardelli. To bring the full flavor, you can combine it with a small amount of boiling water.

The Dutch-processed or alkalized cocoa powder is treated with alkali to neutralize its acids.  It goes well with recipes that require baking powder. Popular brands like Callebaut and Bensdorp are just some examples. It is mild in flavor, darker chocolate shade or somewhat reddish and easy to dissolve in liquids. It is ideal in baking cakes and pastries.

It is highly recommended to best use the type of specified in the recipe as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder. Some prefer Dutch-processed cocoa than using natural cocoa and baking soda in cakes. While others prefer the natural cocoa powder in brownies and cookies.

If you are in a baking store, if you are unfamiliar of a particular brand, it is always good to inquire whether the cocoa powder that you are getting is natural or alkalized to make sure you will be using the right one. You have an option to use the imported brands or the local ones depending on the quality, money’s worth and taste of course.

I hope this is of great help to you. May you be enlightened by what I have researched and hopefully help you with your baking.

Sources: joyofbaking.com, yummy.ph