chocolate soufflé

Dear Howard,

Wooooooo, it’s been a year on this new blog! Not bad, not bad. To celebrate, I thought I would give the good old soufflé a try. Remember the first time we made it? We had no idea what we were doing and ended up with pots of mush. Now, I know what to do but I still don’t have photographic proof of it. Read on to see why.

Chocolate Soufflé
Recipe adapted from Sugar Rush
Makes 4 servings

Unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
158 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
⅔ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 large egg yolks

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Have a roasting pan ready.

chocolate souffle
First up, we have to melt the butter and brush it into the ramekins. Making sure it’s coated all along the edges.

chocolate souffle
Then take 2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and pour it into the first ramekin. Rolls the sugar around until it’s completely covered on top of the butter. Pour out the excess sugar and then repeat with the next ramekin.

chocolate souffle
The insides of the ramekins should look like this. Butter and sugar attached to it.

chocolate souffle
Using a stand mixer, add in 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites, along with a pinch of cream of tartar (thanks for reminding me we had some at home when we were searching the store yesterday). Whisk on low speed.

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips.

In another pot, heat the milk and cornstarch. Whisk until it comes to a boil and then take it off the heat.

chocolate souffle
In the stand mixer, add in another tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and whisk on medium-high speed.

Add in the two egg yolks to the melted chocolate, stir until combined. Then add in the hot milk and continue to mix (even if the chocolate starts looking clumpy). The chocolate will take in the milk and combine (I mean, that’s how you make ganache after all).

chocolate souffle
Check on the egg whites. Add in the last tablespoon of sugar and whisk until soft peaks are formed. You can tell when it’s done when the egg white holds its’ shape. See the above photo where I left a “peak” for show.

chocolate souffle
Add in the egg whites to the chocolate mixture in thirds. Gently fold it together until no more white streaks can be seen in the batter.

chocolate souffle
The batter will turn from dark brown to light brown. But make sure you don’t over mix because you need the batter to remain airy from the egg whites. Pour the batter into the ramekins ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP. That step is pretty important.

chocolate souffle
Put the ramekins in the roasting pan and fill it halfway with hot water. Slide that into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

When it’s done, open your oven door slowly. A rush of cold air might deflate your pretty soufflés. Carefully take them out and use tongs (or I was thinking some canning equipment) to lift the hot ramekins out.

chocolate souffle
So this little guy here is the reason why I don’t have beautiful photos of the soufflés in the ramekins. I had left over batter and filled in a mini glass dessert cup (it’s not a shot glass) and was ooing and ahhing over how cute it was when it came out of the oven. Look at that height! I snapped a few photos, turned around and saw that my ramekin soufflés were starting to lose their impressive height. Nooo!!

In the end, I guess it didn’t matter. Because this soufflé was damn delicious. It was so light and airy inside and perfectly textured.

chocolate souffle
Here’s to another year of blogging! I thought I would give a shoutout to the cookbooks that I’ve used the most this year for our meals. When we’re trying to be healthy-ish and economical by meal planning (always gets derailed somehow), I’ve been turning to these tried-and-true recipes from:

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking
Eat Delicious: 125 Recipes for Your Daily Dose of Awesome

Another book I want to mention is Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way (Guided Sketchbook): Sketch, Paint, and Doodle Through One Creative Year which has given me so much joy because it has gotten me into a habit of illustrating. Many thanks to Rebecca Green for this recommendation, you’ve inspired me to give this a try. So far I’m still in the pen and pencil section of the book, but there’s colour coming soon with the food prompts. Most excitedly, I’m ready to try some gouache painting as well!

Sincerely,
Syl

chocolate and raspberries are the perfect matcha

Dear Howard,

This one is really for me. I wanted to make something pretty, I needed to use up our matcha powder from our trip to Taiwan, and I had been eyeing those cartons of raspberries at Costco for a long time. Plus, I bought this tart pan months ago with the intention of making this very tart. (Ahh, now you know why I dropped that tart pan into our shopping basket. Thanks for not stopping me.)

This tart took longer than I thought it would, lots of planning and make-ahead involved. Yet, on the outside, it looks so simple. A chocolate tart shell, fill it with some pastry cream, and then some raspberries plopped on top. Now I know why those beautiful French bakeries charge so much for their miniature tarts.

Chocolate Tart Dough
Recipe from Sugar Rush
Makes enough for two tarts

Notes: There’s chilling time for this, so plan ahead and make this dough a day ahead or early in the morning if you want it ready for the afternoon.

1½ stick unsalted butter, cold and diced
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt

  1. You’re going to want your stand mixer for this. Put the butter and sugar in to the mixer’s bowl and attach the mixing paddle on it. This will remind you of making buttercream, but with cold butter. Mix on low speed until the sugar is combined and the butter is smooth (it’ll take a few minutes).
  2. Add in the eggs and mix until combined and smooth on medium speed. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl from time to time.
  3. I know you’re supposed to sift items like the confectioners’ sugar, flour, and cocoa powder, but I honestly rarely do it. At this stage, I just added the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl and had the mixer on low. Scraped when I needed to and then stopped the mixer when it started to look clumped together. Remember, you’re going to knead it a bit, so you don’t need to over mix it at this stage.
  4. Scoop out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, in my case, that would be on clear plastic wrap. I like working on the plastic that I’m going to later wrap the dough in. Plus, less table wiping later! Knead the dough until it’s combined and smooth. Shape the dough into a disc-shape and wrap it tightly in the plastic wrap. Press down on the dough in the plastic wrap to get rid of any air bubbles. Chill overnight or for at least an hour.

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01_Raspberry Matcha Chocolate Tart Collage

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Preparing the Tart Shell

  1. Take out the chilled dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for a few minutes. You’ll know when it’s time to roll, when it’s still chilled, the dough is impossible to roll. Cold dough will crack when you try to shape it. Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and remove the plastic wrap from the dough. You also don’t want the dough to be too soft, then it’ll become sticky.
  2. Roll out the dough in the shape of your tart pan. Make sure you have about 2-inches more dough around the edge of your pan. You don’t want your tart more than ¼-inch thick. I rolled the dough on a silicone mat to make the transfer to the pan easier.
  3. Lightly spray the tart pan with some cooking oil. Then carefully place the dough on the tart pan – in my case, I just peeled it off the silicone mat above the pan – and work quickly and carefully to start adjusting the dough. Make sure the dough is touching the bottom of the pan. Then gently press to make sure the dough is placed in the edges, corners, and evenly lined along the edges. Don’t pull the dough taunt, you want to keep it relaxed so it doesn’t shrink too much when baking. When everything is covered, start trimming the excess dough off of the edge. Pop that into the fridge to chill some more as you wait for your oven to preheat.
  4. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  5. Trim a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover your tart. When your oven is done preheating, take out the chilled tart shell and line it with the parchment paper. Make sure it covers the edges too. Use pie weights or rice or in my case, a few small ramekins to cover the parchment paper. This will help keep your shell from puffing up.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the oven. Then take out the tart and remove the pie weights or rice and remove the parchment paper as well. Pop it back into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. It should be nice and crispy when it’s done.

Matcha Pastry Cream
Recipe adapted using the vanilla pastry cream from Sugar Rush
Makes enough to fill two tarts

Notes: There’s chilling time for this, so plan ahead and make this pastry cream a day ahead or early in the morning if you want it ready for the afternoon.

2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoon matcha / green tea powder
⅓ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  1. In a saucepan, pour in the milk and matcha powder and heat over medium heat. Stirring until the milk begins to steam, but is not bubbling at a boil.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined. Pour in the sugar, cornstarch, and salt and continue to whisk until it’s pale yellow and fluffy.
  4. This step is important and happens really fast, so be ready. While you’re whisking with one hand, the other one can pour in about ¼ to ⅓ of the hot milk. Whisk hard as you don’t want the heat from the milk to cook the eggs (in which, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs), so you have to keep moving. When it’s combine, add another ¼ to ⅓ and whisk until it is well blended. Repeat until all of the hot milk is whisked in. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
  5. Heat the saucepan over medium heat and whisk continuously – I know, you’re getting the best arm workout ever – until it starts bubbling. Let it boil for 2 minutes and then turn off the heat and remove the saucepan.
  6. Whisk in your cubed butter until it’s melted into the mixture. Pour it through a strainer or sieve to get rid of any lumps (or possibly bits of cooked eggs).
  7. Take out a rimmed baking sheet and pour the pastry cream over it. Spread it until you have a thin even layer. Cover plastic wrap over the surface and have it cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.
  8. When you’re ready to use it, transfer the pastry cream from the sheet to a bowl and give it a stir and mix.

02_Raspberry Matcha Chocolate Tart Collage

Assembling the Tart

  1. Seriously easy now. Scoop some of that bright green pastry cream into the chocolate tart. Give it an even layer by spreading it around using a rubber spatula.
  2. Do you clean your raspberries? I do. Be gentle though as they’re so fragile. Let them dry on a paper towel before placing them over the matcha pastry cream. I was able to fit 4 in each row. Keep going until you’ve filled the entire tart.
  3. Dust with icing sugar just before serving. Best eaten on the day of!

Gorgeous, right?

Sincerely,
Syl

celebrate with cake

Dear Howard,

If you’re wondering why I made your favourite cake, it’s because I am so grateful that you’re supporting my new beginning – and a fresh start should always include cake.

I know that it’s difficult to try again. Occasionally, I ask myself unanswerable questions and I know that I am too comfortable where I am. I played it safe. You know that I rarely take big risks, I tend to keep things the way they are. But now, I am finally fixing something that’s been bugging me for years. Just a little something that’s been bubbling in my thoughts.

And it’s not actually a huge deal. Not if you really think about it. I am only starting a new blog. Lots of people start new blogs every day. Yes, I splurged a little with this reboot, but here’s why:

The Blogger platform, which has some great features, was no longer feeding my needs. I felt that the layout theme was dated, I couldn’t customize it (mainly because I’m no website designer), and I was getting a lot of spam. So much spam.

I wanted our photos to be larger. I wanted the blog to look good on the computer monitor, tablet, or phone. I wanted to talk about other things! The name, A Baked Creation, felt too restricting. When I first started, I thought I was going to make custom cupcake creations forever, but in the past eight years, I’ve grown past that. I’m out of the fondant game and I like sharing things that don’t require the oven. Plus there’s A Baked Creation & Supplies in Hesperia, California that probably doesn’t need the confusion with a blogger from Canada.

So here we are on a WordPress run platform and I changed my blog name. I got to choose from lots of great layout designs, this Karuna theme caught my eye (so did some premium themes, but maybe I’ll wait a bit until shelling out more of our hard earned money). I splurged on a premium account so I could customize things to my liking, secure a domain name, and not have pop up ads. I can share larger photos now and the website is compatible on various devices. Best of all, I can write about anything I want without having a blog name that says otherwise.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t simply transfer everything over (because I could), it’s because . . . well I’m a bit embarrassed of the small, grainy photos that I use to take on our point-and-shoot camera. All the photos were sized to a width of 550, which means they would look terrible – absolutely terrible – here. There was no way I was going to resize and replace every photo I ever posted.

Plus I like the idea of a lifestyle blog. I like letter writing. And I managed to get this new name on a few other social platforms – Instagram (yes, there’s a period in between. If only we could add commas), Twitter, and Facebook. Not sure how I want to rename Pinterest yet as SincerelySyl is already taken. I know you’re not happy about that and I’m actually touched that you worried about the username inconsistency. But I think it’ll be fine, it happens to a lot of people!

You see things my way, right? Just in case you’re still on the fence, here’s another slice of cake.

Sincerely,
Syl

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PS: In case you ever wanted to surprise me with cake (or try to convince me to see things your way), here’s the recipe:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Mille Crêpe Cake
Crêpe recipe from the New York Times
Peanut butter pastry cream recipe from Sugar Rush
Strawberry jam from Smucker’s (No, this isn’t a sponsored post.)

Notes: Both the crêpe batter and pastry cream should be made a day ahead, so plan accordingly. Stock up on milk and eggs!

Crêpe Batter:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
A pinch of salt

  1. In a small saucepan, cook the butter until brown. It’s going to smell SO GOOD in the kitchen. It will be difficult, but set it aside to cool.
  2. In another small saucepan, heat the milk until it starts to steam. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Using a stand mixer with the beater attachment, beat the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt on low.
  4. Slowly and carefully, pour in the hot milk and browned butter.
  5. Pour the batter into a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Peanut Butter Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
⅓ cup honey
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large egg yolks

  1. Take out your blender and pour the milk and peanut butter in it and blend until smooth. You might be tempted to drink it right then and there, but stay strong. Move on to step 2.
  2. Next, take out your medium-sized saucepan and pour in the milk and peanut butter mixture. Add in the honey and salt. Warm slowly over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes. Stir frequently until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  3. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks until combined. Add in the sugar, cornstarch, and salt and continue whisking until the mixture is light and fluffy. It should turn a nice pale yellow.
  4. While the stand mixer is whisking, pour in a third of the hot milk and whisk until combined. Add in another third and whisk in. Again, pour in the remaining third of hot milk and wait until combined before pouring everything back into the saucepan. Be careful! It’s best to use bowls and sauce pans that have spouts for this recipe.
  5. Return the saucepan to the stove over medium heat and whisk until the mixture begins to boil. Whisk for a full 2 minutes when it is bubbling. It’ll get tougher to whisk, but you need to work that arm! The more calories you burn off here, the more cake you can have later.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pass the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any small cooked egg bits.
  7. Spread the pastry cream into a thin layer on a tray to help it cool. I use a small rimmed baking sheet and then cover it with plastic wrap. Press down so that there aren’t any air bubbles. Cool the pastry cream in the refrigerator overnight.

02_PBJcrepecake
Assemble:

  1. The next day, bring the batter and pastry cream to room temperature.
  2. Place a nonstick pan over medium heat, the flatter the pan, the better. Swab the surface with cooking oil, then add about 2-3 tablespoons of batter (I use a small soup ladle) and swirl to cover the surface of the pan.
  3. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crêpe. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5-10 seconds. Carefully transfer the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a clean kitchen towel. Repeat until you have 20-25 perfect crêpes.
  4. Transfer the pastry cream from the tray to a bowl. Give it a good stir.
  5. If you want a clean edge for your cake, trim the edges of the crêpe by tracing a 6-inch bowl or cake pan with a sharp knife. Or you can keep the ruffled edges for a more natural look. Place the first crêpe on a cake board or plate.
  6. Using a spoon, scoop some pastry cream to place on top of the crêpe. Use a spatula to smooth out a thin layer all over the crêpe. Cover with another layer of crêpe.
  7. Scoop out some strawberry jam and use a second spatula to create a thin even layer of the crêpe. Cover with another layer of crêpe. Be gentle, the jam makes everything slippery. You can also cover a piece of crêpe with jam/pastry cream first and then add it to the stack. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until there’s no more crêpes, making sure you end with a crêpe on top. Put in two skewers to help keep the crêpes in place. Don’t worry if it’s domed, this is natural as the jam’s fruit might increase the thickness and the middle usually gets filled with more pastry cream than the edges.
  8. Store in the refrigerate for at least an hour to firm everything up before serving.

03_PBJcrepecakeMake celebratory bunting:

  1. Just don’t mind my jammy and crumbly mess! Ok, so you stabbed two long bamboo skewers into the cake right? Unlike other crêpe cakes that are only filled with pastry cream, the jam is slippery! Long-distance travel with this cake is not recommended as the crêpes can easily slide off.
  2. Tie one of the skewers with either string or thread. Take the piece still attached to the spool over to the next skewer and tie another knot. Snip the ends off and trim to the length you prefer.
  3. For the bunting flags, I like to use stickers! I make them from blank label sheets (blank mailing labels or full sheets) by folding them in half and then cutting out the shape I want with a pair of scissors. Then I peel the paper backing off and drape it over the string and have the two sticky sides attach.

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