December 7, 2020

Homemade Ube Butter

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I bought from an online Filipino store a few items and they gave me a small jar of Ube Butter for free. The ube butter is similar to Biscoff spread because it is also made with cookies and butter. The cookies have ube flavoring, most likely unnatural and not real ube (purple yam from the Philippines). I didn't like it because it is too sweet for my taste and I was put off by the violent color. Yes, violent is not a typo. 

Ube is not supposed to be this dark violet. Real ube yam is a lighter shade of purple and when cooked in milk and sugar should be light purple or very dark lilac. I also didn't like the artificial flavor of the store-bought ube butter so I made my own with homemade Ube Jam and butter plus a little powdered xylitol. Needless to say I prefer homemade Ube Butter because it is made with just Ube Jam and salted butter and the color is very very light lilac. I prefer salted butter because IMHO, salt enhances the flavor of sweets. 

If you are using store-bought ube jam, make sure the color is not very dark purple because it will taste of fake ube flavoring that comes in a small bottle. If you don't mind the artificial flavor, then go ahead and use it.

The recipe for homemade Ube Jam is here.

October 16, 2020

Burnt Cheesecake

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Searching for the recipe for the Basque Sobao cake, I came across another cake that is supposed to be from the same region of Spain, the Burnt Cheesecake. The cake can be found in several food blogs and on YouTube so I think I'm late for the party. I like the recipe because it doesn't have Graham cracker or Oreo cookie crust, making it keto friendly if you use sugar substitute. Most recipes don't have flavorings so I added a little orange and lemon extracts to give it a little oomph. The cheesecake is easy to prepare and really really good.

October 6, 2020

Spanish Basque Sobao

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Watching too many Spanish Basque shows on Netflix is bad for my waistline. There are so many sweet treats that I never heard before are mentioned in these shows and I just have to try them. I have cooked a few Basque recipes but can't recall the sweet bread sobao. I looked for it in my Spanish cookbooks with lots of Basque recipes; didn't find one. I had to rely on Wikipedia as well as Spanish recipe websites and was only able to get descriptions, ingredients and amounts, but not an actual recipe. I experimented and made just a quarter of the ingredients written on Wiki. It's actually pound cake but with a little less flour and has a little yeast. I don't know what the yeast is for. The finished bread/cake looks like cornbread, is dense, buttery, sweet, and not bad. I'll increase the anise or rum next time I make it.

from Wikipedia
The recipe includes one kilo of sugar, one of butter, 900 grams of flour, 12 eggs, a pinch of salt, lemon zest, a spoon of rum or anise liquor and a bit of dry yeast. The butter and sugar are mixed together, then salt and lemon are added under continuous stirring. One by one the eggs are added with the spoonful of liquor and finally, flour and yeast are incorporated. As soon as all ingredients are thoroughly mixed the dough is ready, filled into a baking dish and baked in the oven.
Sobao Spanish Basque (Inauthentic)
1 cup sugar 
2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon lemon zest 
¼ tablespoon anise liqueur 
3 large eggs 
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour mixed with 1/16 teaspoon yeast 

  • Line on all sides a 6 x 6 square pan with parchment paper; set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy and pale yellow in color. 
  • Add eggs one at a time together with the anise liqueur. Sprinkle a little of the flour if mixture separates. Beat until smooth. 
  • Slowly add flour and yeast; mix with spatula until fully incorporated. 
  • Transfer into the prepared pan and bake until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. 
  • Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into 2-inch squares.

If someone has an authentic recipe for Sobao, please email me. I'll appreciate it. 😊

May 16, 2020

Cacao Butter Chocolate Candy

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The food grade cacao butter wafers which I used eons ago for homemade lotions and other facial stuff had been sitting in the pantry and already passed the best by date. The wafers looked good so I experimented with making candies. The recipes online seem simple enough to make. Unfortunately, making chocolate candies from scratch using cacao butter is definitely not a piece of cake. It's complicated and frustrating because powdered sugar, powdered erythritol, and powdered milk don't melt that easily. You can whisk it until the end of time and you'll still end up with gritty candy that has cacao butter sitting at the bottom and sugar/milk on top because it needs an emulsifier. Yes, the much maligned lecithin emulsifier.

I had an ancient, maybe 5 years old, small package of soy lecithin granules in the fridge. I threw that away and got sunflower lecithin powder. I didn't know that health nuts take this powder as a supplement. So why not add lecithin if it is not harmful and may even be helpful, if true. It helped bigly in emulsifying specially the white chocolate candy. Also, instead of powdered sugar and milk, I made sweet condensed milk with erythritol and a little white cane sugar 3:1. The sweet milk with the help of lecithin made the candy smooth. For the dark chocolate I added chipotle powder in half of the mixture and chopped homemade candied orange fruit in the other half. Both flavors are delicious!

April 29, 2020

Ñora Pepper Flan

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This Spanish flan using the pulp of hydrated dried mild red peppers called ñora is a bit odd but it is quite good with a teensy bit of bite. The flavor as a dessert flan is a combination of chocolate, prunes, and coffee. Ñora pepper is used to flavor Spanish sausages, savory dishes, and Romesco sauce. One of the recipes I found in a Spanish website is flan. Yes, sweet dessert flan. I couldn't find the link to the recipe anymore but I still remember it has no milk just like Flan de Naranja which is in one of my Spanish cookbooks. I followed that recipe substituting the pepper pulp and the soaking water. I believe you can also use the more widely available, cheaper, and also mild ancho dried pepper which has a very similar chocolate-y and prune-y flavor.

April 23, 2020

No-Knead Bread

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No-knead bread became popular in 2012, if I remember correctly, when Jim Lahey made a demo and published a cookbook. I've never made it until today to know if it really makes flavorful bread. The Jim Lahey method leaves the dough to ferment for 12 hours at room temperature then the dough is shaped and baked in a covered preheated cast iron Dutch oven. He updated it to shorten the fermentation to 3 or 4 hours by using very hot water, about 130°F, and adding ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar.

April 16, 2020

Key Lime Mousse

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I love the flavor of Key limes more than the regular limes either to flavor desserts or as a dip and marinade for fish or meats. I was craving for pie but was too lazy to bake and also didn't want extra carbs. I made mousse instead with whipped cream, cream cheese, and homemade sweetened condensed milk. The light as feather dessert whips up in no time. It's tart and not too sweet. I love it!

Key Lime Mousse
4 ounces softened cream cheese
4 ounces sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of fine sea salt
4 ounces heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
4 tablespoons key lime juice
1½ teaspoons key lime zest
candied key lime for garnish, optional

  • In a small bowl, beat together softened cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and salt until smooth. 
  • Beat in juice and zest until fully combined. 
  • Stir in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Spoon into 4 ramekin dishes. Smooth tops. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
  • Garnish with candied Key limes before serving, if desired.

April 5, 2020

Korean-Style Egg Sandwich

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I'm a fan of Korean dramas and movies and I also love their food.The Koreans are not well-known for Western style food but lately their sandwiches are becoming popular street food. One of them is the tamagoyaki sandwiches on trimmed white bread. The most recent street food fad in Korea is Egg Drop sandwich. Some have ham and cheese or fried bacon and cheese before topping with fluffy scrambled egg on grilled in butter thick slices of brioche loaf bread. Singapore has its own Egg Stop sandwich shops with similar ingredients. 

In the Korean drama Hospital Playlist, currently streaming on Netflix, a father and son are eating their Egg Drop sandwiches. I wanted one after watching the episode. I opted for the simplest ingredients - chopped broccoli slaw mix, chopped green onion, and spicy ketchup. I didn't add mayo mixed with honey because it would be too sweet for me as the bread is already a bit sweet. Also, the spicy ketchup is sweet enough but with a bit of kick. If you can't find the Malaysian spicy sauce, you can make your own. Recipe of sos cili is here.

I like the simplicity of the meatless sandwich specially with thick slices of homemade challah baked in a loaf pan. Perfect for meatless Holy Week for those who are still observing.

Korean-Style Egg Drop Sandwich
1 tablespoon butter, divided
2 thick slices challah or brioche loaf bread
1 jumbo size egg, well beaten
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon broccoli or cabbage slaw mix
½ tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon Malaysian spicy ketchup
mayonnaise mixed with honey 1:1, optional
  • In a small skillet, heat ½ tablespoon butter and fry both slices of bread only on one side. Set aside; keep warm.
  • Mix egg, salt, cabbage slaw mix, and green onion.
  • Add the other half tablespoon of butter on the same skillet then add the egg mixture. Cook on medium low heat, stirring, just until egg is set; takes less than a minute. Do not let it get brown and crusty.
  • Smear the untoasted side of bread slices with ketchup/sos cili. Fill with egg mixture. Wrap the bottom of the sandwich with waxed paper. Drizzle honey mayo on top if desired. Enjoy!

April 4, 2020

Coffee Butter Spread

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If food blogs are to be believed, it's the Japanese who "invented" coffee butter spread. I wanted to try it ASAP when I saw it on an online food article. There are teeny tiny jars at the grocery stores but they have corn syrup and the usual unpronounceable preservatives. The easy to prepare recipes available online are similar to each other and those who made it at home seem to love it. Well, who doesn't like sweet coffee butter on toast while drinking a mug of morning espresso?

I always have a 2-ounce jar of Ferrara instant espresso that I use exclusively for baking and cooking. I get it from either Harris Teeter or Wegmans for less than $4.00. It's very dark, strong, and has good coffee flavor. It's better for baking and making candies than the King Arthur coffee powder IMHO.

The spread is actually just a thicker caramel sauce flavored with coffee. It's easy to cook and there are only 4 ingredients: sugar, salted butter, heavy cream, and espresso powder. I only used ¾ cup sugar but you may increase to 1 cup for a sweeter spread if preferred.

Coffee Butter Spread
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon espresso powder
12 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons salted butter at room temperature
  • Heat heavy cream in the microwave until almost boiling. Stir in coffee granules until dissolved completely. Cover with plastic wrap to keep warm; set aside. 
  • Place sugar in a heavy medium stainless steel saucepan. Turn heat to medium low and let sugar caramelize to medium brown, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent burning and uneven browning. Stir in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. It will bubble so be careful. Stir until butter is fully incorporated. Slowly add warm cream and coffee mixture. Continue cooking over low heat for about 2 minutes while constantly stirring.
  • Transfer into a measuring cup; let cool completely. Once cool, stir vigorously with a rubber spatula or with a hand mixer. Transfer into a sterilized jar and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

January 2, 2020

Honey Layer Cake

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I saw on YouTube someone making Russian Honey Cake. The cake looks delicious but preparation is tedious. I like the idea of the cake and decided to make it but with an easier recipe and also lower carb. Layering almond flour pancakes and slightly tart and sweet whipped cream was the answer. The cake, although not as light as chiffon cake, is delicious and moist and I really love the flavor of the burnt honey. I will make a proper burnt honey cake for sure.

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