Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours, 

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Thank you so much for a great (blogging) year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Arrowroot (Uraro) Cookies

Uraro or arrowroot cookies are common giveaway treats in the Philippines.  As the name suggests, these cookies are made from arrowroot flour which gives them their distinct delicate and powdery texture.  This year, as part of my homemade presents, I baked a batch of these cookies and packaged them in pretty Christmas cookie tins I found at ALDI.

A cookie press is ideal to use for the arrowroot cookie dough.  I pressed mine into Christmas tree shapes!

While these cookies are simple and easy to make and are very inexpensive, I know that the labour that goes with baking from scratch and packaging them beautifully, with the recipient in mind, is incomparable to any store-bought present. Don't you think so?

Perhaps you still have time to make them for someone this Christmas or if you don't, anytime is perfect anyway!  Try it sometime.

ARROWROOT (Uraro) COOKIES (makes 100+ pieces)


3 1/3 cups arrowroot flour**
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavouring
2 large eggs, room temperature

**if you cannot find arrowroot flour, cornstarch is an excellent substitute.


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

In a large bowl, whisk together the arrowroot flour, plain flour, and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add in the maple flavouring.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture.  Stop mixing as soon as everything has come together cohesively.

Press cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets. (If you don't have a cookie press, just roll the dough into one inch balls then press with a fork.)

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes.  Let them cool on the sheet for about  5 minutes, then carefully move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Made without the use of a cookie press.

Keep in cookie tins or airtight containers. Yummy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Perfecting the Red Velvet Cupcake (Part 2)

When I first started making cream cheese frosting, it was always on the soft side. I would either have to work fast before the frosting completely melted or I would ditch piping swirls and instead just make simple round blobs.

A lot of people recommend adding more powdered (icing) sugar to frosting until you get a consistency stiff enough for piping.  As if powdered sugar didn't have any taste!  Adding more sugar = more sweetness.  Not good.

More powdered sugar is NOT the answer.  While most recipes will tell you to use softened cream cheese, I've discovered that if you use it straight from the fridge, you will end up with stiff frosting that's perfect for piping.

(Will frost about 20 cupcakes)

1 bar (250g) cream cheese, cold, cut up into small cubes
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered/icing sugar, sifted


In a medium bowl, beat the butter for a few seconds.  Add in the cubed cream cheese and vanilla extract.

Beat until combined.

Add powdered sugar in 3 additions.  Beat only until the mixture is smooth.  Overbeating will make the frosting go soft.

Now you have stiff cream cheese frosting that's perfect for piping those high swirls!  Easy.

Top with sprinkles then it's done.  Perfect!
Ready to bake?  Red velvet cupcake recipe can be found here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Perfecting the Red Velvet Cupcake (Part 1)

My family is absolutely sick of red velvet cupcakes.  Even the mere sight of them.  I think we got tired of the cupcakes more from seeing them so often in our kitchen rather than from actually eating them.

I baked plenty of ugly red velvet cupcakes in the beginning - sunken centers, lopsided tops, overflowing, cracked domes, etc.  Many bakers (even professionals!) say it doesn't matter what the top looks like because you are going to cover it up with frosting anyway.  I don't agree.  I needed to find out how to do it right.  The first step, of course, was to find the "best" recipe.

If you type in "best red velvet recipe" on Google, you will get countless matches. The label "best" is very relative after all.  I did a Google search a few years ago and it led me to this recipe.  It is the one I have been using ever since.  I like that it uses butter rather than oil as I find cupcakes with oil too wet, moist and heavy.  A minor change I have done was lessening the red food colouring to 40 mls (from 60 mls or 2 oz). 60 mls just seemed too much for me. One thing I'd also like to mention is that I have been strict with using only real buttermilk.  I found that when I used a substitute of milk and vinegar or lemon juice, the result wasn't as good.  But that's probably just me.

Having a good recipe is not the be all and end all.  Correct technique is as essential.  To help you make great red velvet cupcakes, I will show you a step by step plus give you some tips!  NOTE: I will not write the recipe here.  It is not mine.  Personally, I don't like it when people copy my recipes onto their own websites.  Even with a link back, if the recipe is already here, then there is no reason for you to check out the link, is there?  Having said that, I urge you to head on over to Pinch My Salt when you're ready to bake.

Here goes!

1.  Mixing the dry ingredients.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together into a bowl then use a whisk to combine thoroughly and to aerate.  Note that I mix in the cocoa powder at this point instead of with the red food colouring (as stated in the original recipe).

2.  Creaming the butter and sugar.

New bakers usually get confused as to what "creaming" means.  It simply means beating the butter and sugar together until it becomes light and fluffy and the colour becomes a very pale yellow.  Start at a slow speed then gradually increase to medium high. If you use caster sugar, the process will be shorter as the sugar dissolves more quickly into the butter.

TIP: If the weather is cold and your butter and sugar is taking forever to reach that fluffy texture, try hovering a hair dryer on low setting over your bowl.  This will warm up your butter and bowl and will speed up the process.  Trust me, I do this all the time.  Just be careful not to melt it!

3.  Adding eggs, vanilla extract and red food colouring.

Add the eggs one a time.  Beat at medium-low speed only. Add the red food colouring gradually with mixer speed down to low.

4.  Adding the flour mixture and buttermilk.

With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Do this in three additions and mix only until combined. You may find that the flour mixture has a tendency to fly all over the place so it is a good thing to probably cover the mixer bowl with a tea towel before you turn the mixer on.

5.  Mixing the baking soda and vinegar.

When you mix these two ingredients together, the mixture should fizz and foam.  If it does not, your baking soda must be old.  Discard and quickly buy new baking soda!  Better yet, if you haven't used your baking soda in a while, check it first before even thinking about baking,.

6.  Final mixing.

After you have poured the baking soda/vinegar mixture in, beat your cake batter for about 30-40 seconds only.  The longer you beat, the tougher your cupcake will become.

7.  Filling your cupcake cases.

The best way to ensure your cupcakes will be the same size, more or less, is to use a 2" ice cream scoop.

You will be able to make about 20-22 cupcakes.

8.  Baking.

Check your oven's accuracy with an oven thermometer.  Bake your cupcakes in the middle rack, one tray at a time.  You can also turn your trays around halfway through to ensure even baking.

Following the steps and tips I have outlined here, you will hopefully get beautiful-looking and wonderful tasting cupcakes like these.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In My Absence

I know it's been a month.  Sometimes when there's just too much going on, it's when you don't know what to write about. Ironic, isn't it?

In September, I started selling cakes again. I promised I would be taking it easy this time around but well, who does ever keep promises?  I started slowly but things quickly picked up when people heard I was back. So here I am again, making lots of ube and caramel cakes, cupcakes, macarons, and even when I said, I would say no to customized cakes, I still did a few.  Here are just some of them.

I reckon this is the best rendition of my caramel cake so far.

Nutella macarons.
Peanut butter macarons.
Baby shower banana cupcakes.
Red velvet birthday cupcakes.
Despicable Me-themed birthday cake.
Trash pack-themed cake.
I got sick too.  I had flu-like symptoms for a week.  Started with a really bad sore throat, back and headaches then later progressed to coughing and losing my voice.  But who gets to rest?  Not me.  I literally lived on Panadol, Strepsils, Vitamin C, and sore throat gargle. It was the only way I could get through the sickness without lying down to recuperate.

Fortunately, I was back to my healthy self by last week.  Last Saturday was my youngest son's 12th birthday.  We don't usually throw birthday parties but since Matthew's the youngest, he's had the privelege of inviting friends over for the last 4 years. It was kind of a bittersweet celebration for me knowing this would be the last time we would be having a children's party for our kids.

Oh yes, the birthday cake.  After contemplating on making a Pokemon-themed cake (as Matt's birthday present was the new Pokemon Y 3DS game), I decided to try something different. Matthew thought it was so cool.  So did his friends!

An ombre cake in shades of green! 
I learned this frosting technique from YouTube.  It took a lot of effort but the result was truly lovely, don't you think?

The cake is Buko Pandan.  I must say I didn't only enjoy staring at this cake, I liked eating it too!
I made black bottom cupcakes and macarons as well.
Just as I am writing this, there's an ube cake baking in the oven.  I have more to do this week.  I am not complaining. Just praying that I will always be able to do my best (and that I won't get sick again).

Well, that's about it for now.  I hope to be back real soon.  If I don't, at least you know, there's a lot going on around here that's keeping me away from the keyboard.  The list of things to do just never ends.

Have a good week!

PS.  By the way, for those interested to buy the printed Frosted Heaven book from BLURB, use the promo code OCTOBER20 at the checkout to get a 20% discount. Code valid only until the end of the month.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


... at what I recently got in the mail!

Printed copies of my book!  I ordered a few to send to my family. One copy is for my aunties, to whom I dedicated the book. Only 2 out of the 5 sisters are remaining and my aunt, the baker, is already 89 years old. I am excited for her to know how she has passed on the love of baking to me.  

I wish I could have more copies printed out but the cost is just too much.  Even with the least expensive option - softcover and standard paper, it is still very pricey.  The book quality is alright but I find the photos, including the cover, rather dark.  (It is not really as bright as it appears in the photo above.)  Overall though, I am still very happy to see my hard work published and bound :).

Last Saturday, it was my youngest son's Confirmation.  I chose to make him an old-fashioned chocolate cake.  I had the book open while I was making it, just to make sure I was doing everything according to instructions!

I reckon I did a fairly accurate job!

Many people are asking me for the recipe of this particular cake.  Unfortunately, I cannot share it here as I had already indicated before that it will only be shared in the book.  Only fair to those who have already purchased it, right?

If anyone wishes to get the printed book instead of the eBook, the BLURB BOOKSTORE is offering a 20% discount till the end of September. Just enter the code SEPTEMBER20PERCENT at the checkout.  Otherwise, you can get the eBook from here, if you haven't done so already. 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lengua de Gato Cookies

As far as I remember, there were only a few cookie varieties being sold at my aunts' bakeshop before.  They specialized mainly on pastries.  However, especially during the Christmas season, the cookie orders were abundant.  I can still picture those plastic jars with yellow lids on the bakeshop counter in my mind.  I cannot imagine how my aunts managed to press, pipe, bake and pack all those cookies!

If I am not wrong, their bestsellers then were the spritz, arrowroot and lengua de gato (cat's tongue) cookies.  As I have been in cookie-making mode lately, I decided to give these cookies (using the bakeshop recipes) a go one by one.

I loved making these two using the KitchenAid cookie press I recently bought from Costco for only $14!

Yesterday, as I had a cup of eggwhites stored in the freezer, I excitedly tried making the lengua de gato cookies.  These are Filipino butter cookies but considering how it's called, it's probably of Spanish origin.

Since these cookies are very thin and light, I kept on "testing" them after every tray came out of the oven.  I don't know just how much I ate but I had to skip lunch as I was already full!

Before I share the recipe, just a last note.  I tried using baking paper and silpat to line my baking trays and also tried putting the cookie dough straight onto non-stick baking trays (without lining).  The resulting cookies had different looks.

As seen from the photo above, I had the best results with the silpat-lined.  The cookies had straight edges.  The ones baked in baking paper all had wonky edges while the ones baked with no liner spread and browned more but were still as easy to remove.  Taste and crunchiness were the same for all. 

Here now is the lengua de gato cookies recipe so next time you have leftover eggwhites, you would know what to do with them.  

LENGUA DE GATO COOKIES (makes 300+ pieces)

2 cups (4 sticks, 1 pound, 454 grams) salted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup eggwhites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange flavouring
3 1/2 cups cake flour

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (325F).  Line baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer at high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Lower mixer speed to medium then add eggwhites gradually followed by the vanilla and orange flavourings.  

Slowly mix in the flour.  Beat until everything is well combined and batter is smooth.

Fit a piping bag with a plain round or star tip (#12 or #21).  Spoon cookie batter into the piping bag.

Pipe out thin strips of batter onto lined baking trays, about 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookie edges start to brown.

Loosen cookies from the trays while still warm.  When completely cool, pack them in airtight containers.