matcha dusted fudge brownies

Dear Sam,

Huzzah! It feels like Easter was many moons ago as I am very late in writing this post. I was like, who could I write this to? and you popped into my mind because you finally gave in and had chocolate just because I made these. To that, I am humbled and I also commend you on going 39 days without chocolate. That’s not an easy task. Even just today, I was poking around my kitchen looking for something chocolate to nibble on. I eventually gave in and opened my second box of Daim cake. And just to be clear, I would have made them again after Easter so you could have some!

These brownies are so addictive, but it was seeing a photo of the glossy and crinkly top that drew me into the recipe in the first place. Stella Parks is a dessert genius. If she’s reading this, I would love to know how to swirl the matcha onto the top (and just the top) of the brownie. Would it still achieve that glossy film?

Glossy Fudge Brownies
Recipe adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts
Makes enough to fill a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1⅓ cup cocoa powder
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for dark chocolate bars, chopped)
2¼ cup white suguar
¼ cup brown sugar
1¾ teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extra
(The original recipe also calls for instant espresso powder here, but it’s optional, and I didn’t have any.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan with foil so that the bottom and sides are covered.
  2. In a pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. I dabbed a little of the melted butter with a brush to grease the foil in the pan. Increase the heat to medium and let the butter simmer until the butter is golden yellow and silent (there’s a lot of hissing and popping during the process).
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together.
  5. Using a stand mixer, whisk the white sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla extract. Run it on medium-high until the mixture is thick and fluffy (about 8 minutes).
  6. Reduce the stand mixer speed to low and pour in the warm chocolate-butter mixture. Once it’s combined and you don’t see anymore streaks, add in the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Mix on low until the batter comes together. Be careful not to over mix here. Use a spatula to help fold if you think the stand mixer might be too heavy handed.
  7. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for about 25 minutes. The brownies should have a glossy film and still be soft to the touch.
  8. Here’s the hard part, wait. Let it sit and cool. It’ll be too gooey to slice if you don’t wait.
  9. Gently tug and lift the foil out of the pan. Cut the brownie into squares (or triangles). Store in an airtight container with wax paper between each layer. It’ll last for a week in room temperature. I also froze some to be mixed in with ice cream sundaes in the future.

Chocolate Brownies

Stirring the melted butter and chocolate together.

Chocolate Brownies

Sifting the flour and cocoa powder!

Chocolate Brownies

Pour that luxurious batter into the baking pan.

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Finally, it’s cool and ready to be sliced.

Chocolate Brownies

Oh my gosh, look at the center where it’s nice and dark. This is one moist and delicious brownie.

Liza, if you’re reading this, it’s time to look away.

Chocolate Brownies

Dusted some matcha powder on the top of my brownie square.

Chocolate Brownies

Yaasss! So ready to dig in.

Chocolate Brownies

The first bite, get in my belly!

Chocolate Brownies

Time for a second bite.

Sincerely,
Syl

chocolate rice krispie square totoros

Hey Steph and Lyndsay,

It’s one of my favourite weeks, even more than shark week, it’s finally #totoroweek! The weeks leading up to it, I’m always on the look out for round or circular food types that can be transformed in Totoro. But then I thought square Totoro is cute too! Let’s show him some love.

I recently made homemade marshmallows and since then I started craving Rice Krispie squares. This time, I tried a different marshmallow recipe and went straight to Stella Parks’ BraveTart cookbook. She offers quite a few variations, including an apple pie flavour, brown butter, coconut, malted milk, and peanut butter honey. I went with chocolate since it would provide the best contrast to the white royal icing.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares
Recipe adapted from BraveTart
Makes enough to fill an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan

11 cups Rice Krispie cereal
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin powder
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup water
1 cup golden corn syrup
2¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter

  1. In a large bowl, fold the cocoa powder with the cereal until it’s evenly coated.
  2. Add Melt the butter and grease the baking pan. Set aside the extra butter.
  3. Mix the gelatin, ¼ cup water, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a medium pot, combine the ½ cup water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Set over medium heat and stir until the mixture bubbles (about 8 minutes). I clipped on a candy thermometer, but I couldn’t get the mixture to reach 250°F in after 6 minutes. Might be time for me to get a digital thermometer. Either way, onward!
  5. Pour the hot syrup into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let it cool for a bit and then add the gelatin from the small bowl. Using a whisk attachment, start on low speed and then increase to medium-high.
  6. The syrup will thicken and turn white and increase in volume. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining melted butter. Give it one last good mix on medium-high.
  7. Scrape the gooey marshmallow batter over the cocoa-powdered cereal and fold to coat. Transfer the mixture into the greased pan and gently press down to create an even and smooth surface.
  8. Cover it in foil and let it set in the fridge for at least two hours.

 

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

After the Rice Krispie is set, use a spatula to help pop the treats out of the pan and cut them into squares.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Use a piping bag with a small round tip and fill it with royal icing. Pipe an arch about half the size of the square and fill it in.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Pipe two medium circles for the eyes and push milk chocolate crispearls in for Totoro’s pupils. Pipe a small dot for the nose and v-shapes for the whiskers.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

This is the part where your patience gets tested. Using brown jimmies to set over the royal icing belly. I used the tip of a knife to help shift some into place.

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Finally, some lollipop sticks to make these treats easy to hold and eat. I couldn’t bear to bite into Totoro, so I had Howard do the honours while I ate the non-decorated ones. These chocolate Rice Krispie squares taste really good (and are super addictive).

Sincerely,
Syl

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

not quite blackout cake

Dear Jackson,

Happy belated birthday!

Your dearest mom asked me to make you a birthday cake, since I did the same for your sister when she turned two. Between you and me, I think your cake turned out way better. That’s a win for being the second child, trust me. And it’s all due to the fact that I didn’t have to work with fondant – yay! Your godmother is a bit rusty working with fondant now since the cake trend moved away from that sugary dough.

When your mom showed me the image of Blaze and the Monster Machines, I was like hmmm why couldn’t you be into something simple like Pac-Man? That I can easily make. Luckily your mom came to the rescue and bought two Blaze toys and candied rocks for me. All I had to do was repay her kindness by making her favourite cake combination – chocolate and peanut butter. I then pitched the idea of making the outer later a blackout with crumbs to continue with our outdoor soil and rocks theme. She was all for it.

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So that is how I ended up baking the night before your birthday party. Three delicious chocolate cake layers cooling on the rack. The next morning, I whipped up some peanut butter buttercream (and perhaps did lots of taste tests with a spoon) and assembled your cake.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes
(Makes three 9-inch layers)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have your three cake pans ready, line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. This creates a lot of batter, so make sure your bowl is big enough or use an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Pour in the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually add in the water. Then mix in the vinegar and vanilla extract. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Take them out and let them cool completely on a rack. These cakes are very soft, so use extra care!

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Peanut Butter Frosting
Recipe from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes
(Makes enough to frost a two 9-inch layered cake)

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups icing sugar
⅔ cup smooth peanut butter

  1. Make sure your cream cheese and unsalted butter are at room temperature. Leaving it out for 1-2 hours will work too.
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until combined.
  3. Add in 2 cups of icing sugar, mix well. Add the remaining 2 cups of icing sugar and mix until combined. Add in the last cup of icing sugar and mix. Doing this in portions helps prevent the icing sugar from flying everywhere.
  4. Finally, add in the peanut butter and mix until the frosting is smooth.

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Jackson, when you’re older, you should make this for your mom. Just take the first layer of the cake and place it on a plate. Add a layer of peanut butter frosting on top, about 1-2 centimetres thick. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top to sandwich it. Again, top it off with frosting. Then add frosting on the sides of the cake and frost until the entire cake has been covered. The best part is that it doesn’t have to look perfectly smooth because it’ll be crusted with crumbs after.

To make the blackout crumb, take that third cake layer and put it in a bowl and use an electric whisk to break it apart. Stop when it looks like soil and gently pat it onto the sides and top of the cake.

Totally worth it. You were so thrilled with the toys on top of the cake. And you seemed to enjoy the cake, but I know your first love is JELL-O. Just like your godfather!

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