Oh Sweet Day!

Lemon Sponge Valentine Cake

February 8, 2016 by Fanny | 7 Comments

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My husband and I have never been keen about Valentine’s Day. I don’t remember I’ve ever received flowers. We feel cheesy to eat with another 20 couples in a restaurant. And who the hell cares about diamonds now? We would make a fancy dinner at home with a bottle of good wine, a great home movie, and maybe something “special” after. Haha…

In fact I can’t really recall a very memorable Valentine’s Day simply because we don’t really care! Funny thing is that now we have kids, and they enjoy exchanging love/treats with their friends at school. And I enjoy making treats for them. Something home-made, special and hopefully memorable – heart sugar cookies, love cake pops, red velvet cupcakes… Honestly it’s been way more fun!

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At home, we are each other’s valentines. And we like to celebrate together! This year we are going to eat this very simple but delicious lemon sponge cake. And I will put two little red hearts on top to decorate the cake, and call it a Valentine’s Day Cake.

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This lemon sponge cake can be your every day cake. It goes equally tasty with whipped cream instead of buttercream. I like it so petite that you can make it for just two of you, and eat it with nothing else but two forks!

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If you are not “locked” with your kids or anything else, and you enjoy dining-out, here I have a great restaurant list for you and your loved one to choose from. This Foodie Top 100 Restaurant Awards are created by a small, highly select group of known food critics, and is based on food first, followed by experience, service and beverage options. It allows the critics to select the leading chefs at restaurants without a price point or wine list as a requirement.

Check out Foodie Top 100 Restaurants Worldwide 2016: United States

by Foodie Editor at Mode

Ingredients (one 5-inch layered cake): 

Cake Topper
10 disc red candy melts
1 teaspoon canola oil (if melted candy is too thick to pipe)
Lemon Sponge Cake
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Lemon Buttercream
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a drop of yellow food coloring paste
 

Directions:

To make cake topper, outline a template of a small heart shape on a parchment paper.

Place candy melts in a microwaveable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts.  Add oil if it’s too thick to pipe. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening.

Start piping the candy over the template, starting with the outline. Place a toothpick in the middle, then fill the outline with zigzags.

Let it dry completely before peeling the cake topper off the parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease three 5-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, until light and triple in volume.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture on low speed, and mix until just incorporated.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the cake batter into a bowl, and stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Add the mixture back to the cake batter and gently fold with a spatula until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the centre of the cakes spring back when gently pressed. Let cool completely in the pans.

Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper circles.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add heavy cream, lemon zest and juice, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if you prefer, and mix for another minute.

To assemble the cake, sandwich each cake layer with a thick layer of buttercream. Top with a final layer of buttercream. Use an offset spatula to smear the buttercream squeezed out between the cake layers along the sides of the cake to create the naked cake effect.

Carefully place the cake topper on the cake.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bun

February 3, 2016 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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“Cinnamon buns make all mornings better. Knowing that standard potatoes do wonders for the texture of plain white bread, I assumed that sweet potatoes might add something special to my morning bun recipe. A little roasted purée in the mix gave the dough a beautiful burnished-orange color, just the right amount of moisture, and a hint of earthy sweetness. These are the squishiest buns I’ve ever been proud to call my own.” The Kitchn.

Cinnamon buns do make all mornings, even all moments, better! My kids adore cinnamon buns. You can throw them a bun or two and they will do whatever you want them to do!

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That’s the thing about kids. They eat what they like to eat, and it’s extremely hard to get them to eat things they don’t like. A case in point here is sweet potatoes. Or just all potatoes! They only eat them when they become fries which they still have a hard time understanding the truth behind it. Yet they can’t deal with yam fries or sweet potato fries.

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So what do you do as a mother? Hide it in something that they love to it. Thanks to this clever recipe from The Kitchn, my kids gobbled these buns like the ones I normally make without noticing anything at all. The sweet potato puree made the buns look so much prettier with the vibrant orange color. I used the glaze I normally use to frost the buns, instead of the suggested cream cheese frosting. My kids are not big fans of cream cheese. Maybe wait until I am able to find a way to hide it!

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Ingredients (about 10 rolls):

Bun
3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup sweet potato purée
Filling
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
 

Directions:

To prepare buns, in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt.

In another bowl, warm milk and butter in a microwave or stove top, until butter is melted and just warm to touch, about 110F.

Stir in the egg and sweet potato puree to combine.

Add milk mixture to the flour mixture, and mix until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to an greased bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour to rise.

When the dough is risen, move the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Roll to flatten the dough into a big rectangle, about 12 x 11-inch.

To make the filling, pour the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter.

Beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the long side of the rectangle tightly toward you. Pinch the seam together at the end.

Slice it into 1 1/2-inch slices. Place the sliced rolls in a well greased baking pans, one inch apart. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

To prepare the glaze, mix all the ingredients and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Generously drizzle the glaze over the hot rolls. Serve warm or in room temperature.

Toasted Coconut Banana Cream Pie

February 1, 2016 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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I think I’ve up-ed the banana cream pie game a little here. By adding coconuts! Isn’t that genius?! No? Cause everyone is doing this? Oh! WHATEVER!!!

I made an extra mini pie crust last time when I was making this amazingly delicious mango lime cream tart. The crust had been sitting in the freezer for a few days until I decided to fill it with banana cream filling. Honestly I can’t pick which one I enjoy more, graham cracker crust or this toasted coconut crust. The pie filling goes equally well with both. I think it’s just the matter of how you like coconuts.

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I used to dislike shredded coconut although I do love coconut. You know how in the old days people like to serve jelly cubes covered with shredded coconut in parties. Oh! The ultimate nightmare treat! Maybe I’ve never been a fan of jello. I simply don’t understand how they came up with this. And it’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t like shredded coconut. Until I started to cook and bake a lot, and decided to explore around this hateful ingredient. And you know what I’ve done with it so far: coconut crepe cake, coconut macaroons, coconut cream pie, toasted coconut cake… Well, you know how we already remind our children to be forgiving. I guess it just applies to everything in life.

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Ingredients (9-inch pie):

Coconut Crust
3/4 sweetened shredded coconut, slightly toasted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Banana Cream Filling
1 cup whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup shredded coconut, slightly toasted
 

Directions:

Preheat over to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with a removable bottom.

To prepare crust, mix coconut, flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor until dough just becomes to form a ball.

Firmly press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie dish.

Freeze for 10 minutes.

Then bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until it holds firm peaks. Remove cream from bowl and keep cold in fridge.

In the same bowl, beat cream cheese until it’s soft and creamy.

Add sugar and vanilla, continue beating until combined.

Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten the mixture, then add the remaining cream and continue folding until incorporated.

Cover the bottom of the crust with banana slices. Pour the cream mixture over top. Smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange banana slices on top with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.

Refrigerate the pies until set before serving, at least 2 hours.

Spiced Lentil Soup

January 28, 2016 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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January is usually the month people start thinking about eating better. Or living better. Less sweet, less meat, less fat, more exercise, more eat-in…

It’s common sense that eating less meat or less fat is good for your health. We’ve always known that. However we’ve still cooked and eaten whatever we want. Fortunately my family has never had any health issues that put us off anything that we love to eat. Plus I am a baker. I bake with everything. Full fat, whole eggs, and lot of gluten. That’s how I love my food.

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All this until my husband and I watched Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret on Netflix. It takes one person through a very personal journey to show animal agriculture, the planet’s most destructive industry that the government and even environmental organizations strive to conceal from the public although it’s the real cause of climate change and global warming. Can you imagine that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef?!

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The documentary emphasises that there is only one course of action that will change the world – don’t eat meat! We can adapt and go with a more healthy diet or we can wait for a massive ecological change and have our population levels and civilization crash like so many others have before.

The other day I tried to talk about this with my 7-year-old son. Over the conversation about vegan and vegetarian, my son declared that, “So I am a Meat-a-tarian!” I won’t lie, it’s hard for us to stop eating meat and diary products right away. But considered how our next generations will be forced to do that, I would want to start the ground work now.

So I’ve started to search for vegan recipes. And soups sound pretty manageable but still delicious. This spiced lentil soup recipe from Cookie and Kate was the first one I decided to try. And WOW! I wish I knew it sooner that vegan cooking could be this tasty too!

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What I love about this lentil soup is that it’s very flavourful with lots of spice and super easy to put together. The addition of collard greens is my ultimate favourite as I am a huge collard greens fan! By the way, have you tried collard greens stir fry with garlic? Oh my god!

If you are looking to change your diet this time of the year, be it for the sake of your own health, or to make a better world, there are tons of delicious options to kick start.

Check out 10 flavourful vegan soups to help make a better world

by Oh Sweet Day! at Mode

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6): 

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 540-gram can of lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped fresh collard greens
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A dash of Tabasco
A sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese
 

Directions:

Heat oil in a large heave-duty pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and carrots. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, coriander, curry powder and thyme. Cook and stir for another minute.

Add tomatoes with the juice and cook for a few more minutes.

Stir in lentils, broth and water. Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped collard greens and cook for another 5 minutes, until vegetable is just softened.

Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice, Tabasco and vegan Parmesan, if desired.

Mango Lime Cream Tart with Coconut Crust

January 25, 2016 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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Sometimes I do think canned fruit works better than fresh ones. Here is what you have to do when it comes to puree mango – peel, dice, pit, puree and my least favourite step – strain the mango to make sure it’s very smooth. I don’t really mind about making mess in the kitchen because I do a pretty good job cleaning it up afterwards. And I do believe sometimes making a mess is making good food.

However, if you realize that the mess doesn’t give you anything better than simply opening a can. Then why sweat?!

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I used to use fresh mangoes for desserts. The problem is that unless you are a mango farmer, you have no control over whether or not you will have access to perfect mangoes. And turns out you may have to deal with unripe, stringy, tough and tasteless mangoes. I would rather giving up using mangoes.

The perfect solution is canned mango pulp that you can easily buy from Indian grocery stores. It’s superior in flavour, texture and sweetness. So good that you would be so tempted to drink it straight from the can. And the lickingsssssssss from the lid, spoon, fingers. Oh my god! But it’s way better put to use in desserts, like this amazingly fragrant and tasty mango cream tart.

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I came across this recipe and took a little study on the reviews and comments. Here it comes my adaptation. First I made a thicker crust, which is kind of my thing – I like thick pie/tart crust that can really hold its filling. For the mango filling, I had to adjust the amount of gelatine as the canned mango pulp is more fluid than fresh mango puree. I served the tart with plain whipped cream to balance the sweetness of the filling. Now the final sprinkle of lime zest is a must! Same as the lime juice addition to the filling. Lime plays a very important role in this tart as it yields the tart the right nuance of lime flavour without it being too overwhelming. Do a quick grocery run if you don’t have limes in the house before you start making this tart.

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Ingredients (9-inch pie):

Coconut Crust
3/4 sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mango Filling
2 1/2 cups mango puree
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 package powdered gelatine
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons lime zest
 

Directions:

Preheat over to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with a removable bottom.

To prepare crust, toast coconut in oven for a few minutes until lightly brown. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, mix coconut, flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt until dough just becomes to form a ball.

Firmly press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie dish.

Freeze for 10 minutes.

Then bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, mix mango, sugar, lime juice until smooth.

Sprinkle gelatine over 1/2 cup mango mixture in a microwavable container. Microwave for 15 seconds, then stir until the gelatine is dissolved.

Stir the gelatine mixture into the remaining mango mixture until well mixed. Let mixture sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid setting.

In another bowl, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream with an electric mixer until it holds firm peaks. Fold in the mango mixture.

Remove cooled pie crust from the pan. Pour the cream mixture in and smooth the top with a spatula.

Refrigerate the tart until set, about 3 hours, or preferably overnight.

Before serving, whip up the remaining cream until firm. Top the tart with the whipped cream and lime zest.

Chocolate Ganache Tart

January 18, 2016 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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This tart happened in our house twice last week.

One of my friends texted me and asked for a fool-proof chocolate dessert recipe for a non-baker. She’s hosting a dinner gathering and planning to serve a crowd-pleasing dessert. She would like to hear something like “Did you make this? WOW!” when that dessert is put on the table. She didn’t want cupcakes because it’s a little too birthday-ish. By the way, I don’t believe there is a thing as too birthday-ish. No cakes too as it sounds too intimating for her to make one. So tarts or pies!

The only thing about this chocolate ganache tart is the crust. The filling is a total no-brainer. I’m sure it would be great with an Oreo crust. But I’ve been on such a huge shortbread mode lately, and I really wanted to go with a chocolate shortbread crust. So I baked up this crust and let my friend put in the ganache filling, and call it her own dessert.

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The rave reviews I received the day after the dinner was unreal! Everyone fell in love with the tart. The luxurious ganache filling of heavy cream and dark chocolate went amazingly well with the buttery and tender chocolate crust. And the fact that it’s so easy to come up with is unbelievable.

And that’s why I made the same tart again for our dinner party last Saturday. And I’ve been thinking about the leftover every second. This tart is perfect to go with fresh berries, whipped cream or cherry sauce/compote. But my utmost favourite is to go with a little sprinkle of sea salt flakes. Seriously sea salt and dark chocolate are quite magical together.

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Ingredients (9-inch tart):

Chocolate Shortbread Crust
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powder sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt 
Chocolate Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
200 grams dark chocolate
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Others
20 fresh raspberries
Sea salt flakes
 

Directions:

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy.

Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with a removable bottom.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Line the prepared pan with the rolled dough. Leave a tiny overhang of dough. Use a small kitchen knife to trim the excess and to score the tops of the tart with a fork.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare chocolate ganache filling, bring heavy cream almost to a boil in a small heavy sauce pan over medium heat.

Break chocolate into small pieces, and put them into another bowl. Pour in hot cream, let sit for a few minutes. Add corn syrup, and stir gently with a rubble spatula until smooth.

Pour ganache evenly over tart shell and spread with an offset spatula. Refrigerate overnight.

Leave tart at room temperature for an hour, garnish with raspberries or serve with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.

Matcha Vertical Roll Cake with Black Sesame Whipped Cream

January 11, 2016 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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I first saw a vertical cake on Pinterest a while ago and pinned it. By the way, are you in love with Pinterest? I totally am! It’s inspirational, versatile, informative, well organized and beautiful! When I need an idea, my first source is Pinterest, a really gorgeous website to infinitely scroll through.

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One thing about making a vertical cake is to bake the right type of cake that does not break when you roll it. Therefore a sponge cake or a chiffon cake is the best because a regular butter cake might break easily when rolling. The cake flour in a sponge cake helps make the cake more tender. Beating the egg yolks and whites separately also produces an elastic cake that allows it to be rolled without cracking. And it’s important to roll it in a clean towel immediately after it’s done baking.

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You could go ahead to fill and roll the sponge, and turn it into a Swiss roll, which I’ve done before with green tea flavour. And it was divine! But then I remembered the pin on my Pinterest board and thought, “Let’s fancy it up a little!” So I decided to roll the cake vertically into a big circle, and frost it with black sesame whipped cream. Oh if you haven’t heard, matcha and black sesame are such good friends. I learned it last time when I made a matcha black sesame cheesecake. Yet I promise it will taste as good with matcha whipped cream or even plain whipped cream. Seriously!

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One more thing, it was a little surprising that the cake still tasted great after two days covered in the fridge. So I would say if you find cake decorating intimidating, you might want to try making this cake. Because technically what you have to do is to roll and frost the cake. No decorating. And it’s pretty safe to make it in advance. So you bring the cake over to your friends, they might not pay attention to it until they cut into it. Da Da! What a beautiful surprise inside!

Ingredients (one 7-inch cake):

Matcha Sponge Cake
3/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Black Sesame Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon black sesame powder
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 x 17 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Sift flour, matcha powder and baking powder.

Use an electric hand mixer to beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until color is lightened. Add the remaining sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes thick and pale.

Add milk and beat to combine.

Fold in flour mixture until combine.

Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites until incorporated into the green tea batter. Then fold in the remaining egg whites until no whites remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the batter evenly. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until springy to touch.

When the pan is cool to handle (but the cake is still warm), invert the cake on a clean dish towel on your working surface. Remove the top parchment paper carefully. Then roll the cake while it’s still warm, starting from the shorter edge. Let it cool (wrapped) completely.

To prepare the whipped cream, beat the cream until soft peaks form, then add the powdered sugar and black sesame powder. Continue beating until firm peaks form.

When the cake is completely cool, unroll the cake, and cut it vertically into 3 stripes, each about 3 inches wide. (Step-by-step pictures above)

Spread whipped cream on top of each stripe.

Re-roll the cake starting with the first stripe until the end of it. Continue rolling by place the cake roll on top of the edge of another stripe. Repeat with the last stripe.

Place the whole cake on a serving plate. Frost it generously with the remaining whipped cream.

Chill until ready to serve.

Millionaire Shortbread Bar

January 5, 2016 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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What are you doing in 2016? I think I am still having a hard time swallowing the fact that 2015 has passed so quickly. A crazy year of ups and downs. Mostly ups actually! Yeah! Cooking, baking, reading, listening to tons of new music (Thanks to Apple Music), building stronger friendship, running a family, learning more about raising human beings than I ever thought I’d know… among other million things!

I was busy. I have always been. Day in and day out. And oh god how I enjoy it! I can’t imagine the day I wake up to a quiet morning with no chaos about breakfast eating, lunch packing, outfits picking, mess making, people killing! Sleep-in is so overrated! I am ready to tackle my hectic mornings, manage unlimited houseworks and errands in limited no-kids hours, run my 5k every day, and keep working on this website.

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Oh Sweet Day! has become my little hideout from daily routines. I create and share something delicious and nice-looking over here. Sometimes something personal about me and my family. And you guys out there keep reaching out to try the recipes, read stories about my kids, write me comments and emails… Utterly amazing you guys!

And so “What am I doing in 2016?” I will make Oh Sweet Day! a better place. More creative yet do-able recipes. More stories to share. I hope that more of you will come along and say hi!

Here is my first sweet for you in 2016. Also known as caramel shortbread, caramel squares, caramel slices… these millionaire shortbread bars normally have three delicious layers of buttery shortbread, creamy caramel and delicate chocolate topping. I used dulce de leche instead of caramel because I had some leftover in the fridge. And I figured why not. Turned out it was so good! You might argue that caramel and dulce de leche are the same thing. And I believe they are in general. And you can totally go for caramel.

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Now a little lesson learnt here. My dulce de leche was a little too runny as you can see in the pictures. It makes the whole thing look super scrumptious I know! But the mess it made when I cut it into squares! Can you imagine the licking and the sticking and the dripping… I would definitely cook it a bit longer next time to thicken it more.

Ingredients (about 16 squares):

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup store brought or home made dulce de leche
150 grams dark chocolate, cut into chunks
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flaked sea salt 
 

Directions:

Grease an 8×8 inch pan. Line pan with parchment paper with a few inches overhang off the sides.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Sift in flour and salt. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan to form a crust. Poke holes into crust using a small fork. Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake the shortbread crust for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Spoon the dulce de leche over the cooled shortbread crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Place pan in fridge to set for 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave gradually, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between until very smooth.

Pour chocolate over the set dulce le leche and smooth with a spatula.

Place pan back in fridge for 15 minutes to set the chocolate.

Lift up with edges of parchment paper to remove the whole cookie from pan. Cut into squares. Sprinkles sea salt on top and serve.

Chocolate Ganache Mousse Cake

December 30, 2015 by Fanny | 26 Comments

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After the Christmas Eve dinner, the Christmas morning gingerbread cinnamon rolls, another feast on Christmas Day, and then some leftover turkey paninis, roasted lamb sandwiches, brussel sprouts… and it comes New Year’s Eve.

While Christmas is more a family event, New Year’s Eve is a party. Before I had kids, doing countdown out at a club was almost my must-do every year. In fact it was when I was way younger. I did more house parties with friends after I hit 30. Still loud and drunk and louder and more drunk!

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Now we’ve aged a little. We host the party. Invite a few close friends over. All dress up a little. Enjoy the coziness. Relax over a long meal. Create the moments that we will all remember years after.

Dessert is always the last food item that we linger on. Something fancy, crowd pleasing and absolutely delicious. I find chocolate a pretty solid choice when it comes to dessert flavour. Making it into light and airy mousse will surely melt everyone’s heart. I layer the mousse on a bed of chocolate cake, and drape it with a blanket of ganache, some more chocolate shavings, some festive gold sugar glitters and sprinkles… This chocolate ganache mousse cake itself could be quite a topic opener itself.

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Ingredients (three 5-inch cakes):

Chocolate Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Chocolate Mousse
200 grams of dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup espresso
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Chocolate Ganache
100 grams dark chocolate, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
Garnish
1/2 cup chocolate shavings
1/4 cup golden sprinkles or glitters
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line the sides and bottoms of three 5-inch springform pans with parchment papers.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Crack in the egg, spoon in the sour cream, and pour in the oil and the vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Pour in the boiling water, and slowly mix until smooth and liquidy.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let cakes cool completely in the pans.

To prepare mousse, make a double boiler and bring the water to a soft simmer. Put the chocolate, butter and espresso in a heat resistant bowl and leave to melt. Put a mixing bowl in the freezer.

Beat the egg whites until soft peak forms. Add sugar and continue beating until it becomes stiff and forms peak. Transfer to another bowl. Set aside.

Using the same bowl that you whip the egg whites, beat the egg yolks until light and creamy. Mix in the chocolate mixture.

Fold the whipped egg whites in the chocolate and egg yolk mixture.

Put the cream in the bowl from the freezer and whip until it becomes stiff. Add the cream to the chocolate mixture and fold with a spatula until it becomes one liquid.

Pour the chocolate mixture evenly into the cake pans. Juggle to lightly level the top.

Keep in the refrigerator overnight.

Prepare ganache before serving. Place chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Gently loosen the springfrom rings to release the cakes. Peel off the parchment papers. Place the cakes on serving plate(s). Pour ganache over the top of the cakes. Use an offset spatula to gently push the ganache to the sides to create dripping effect.

Garnish with chocolate shavings and sprinkles.

White Christmas Tree Cake Pop

December 21, 2015 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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So a few more days. Just a few more days before Christmas. I’ve been counting down with tons of cookie baking, packaging, tying ribbons, driving and delivering. For the driving and delivering part, I have to give a huge thank you to my husband, the trusty delivery guy who brings the cookies to the front doors of my every single client, day in and day out. So I can focus on making sure the cookies are delicious and the packaging looks pretty.

Cookies oh sweet day

It’s been our lives for the past few weeks. Hectic and exhausted! I’ve baked so much that when people come around me, they will go, “Oh! You smell like cookies!” And in fact, I do! I even have that smell in my head. Like inside my head. I feel like I am a giant human cookie even after I’ve taken 400 showers. That’s insane! But you know what, I enjoy it! My clients have texted me and told me how they loved the cookies, how their friends enjoyed them, how happy they felt about this home-made hearty gift… And that’s exactly what I was looking for – to make people happy!

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On top of everything, I have to manoeuvre the routine houseworks, meals preparation and two young kids. However, I’ve never given up contributing to my kids school Christmas party. So I stayed up late the night before to made some white Christmas tree cake pops for them. Well, I know it’s not necessary. But look at their faces, just because of their excitement seeing the treats, I decided to forgive my being stupid.

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Ingredients (about 45 pops)

Vanilla Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Others
1 bag of white Candy Melts
a few disc of red, green and yellow Candy Melts
 

Directions:

To prepare cake, preheat over to 350F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then invert it onto a greased rack. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Break the cooled cake into a few big trunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs.

Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Use a small cookie scoop, roll dough into evenly sized balls. Shape the balls into cone shape, and place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Melt small amount of white Candy Melts in the microwave gradually, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the melted candy and insert into the cake pop. Repeat until you are done. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.

Remove the cake pops from the refrigerator. Melt all the white Candy Melts in the microwave. Dip each cake pop in the Candy Melts and gently tap off excess. Place cake pop onto a piece of wax paper. Let it dry completely. Repeat with the remaining cake pops.

Place the black Candy Melts in a microwavable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the Candy Melts. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening, and start piping the desired patterns to decorate the Christmas trees.

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