Baker at Heart ♥

So how did you celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? For NYE, I was up and about, busy cooking food for our media noche. We didn’t stay up late, maybe  all of us were already asleep by 2AM. Then New Year’s Day came and I was greeted by a bad case of stomach flu. Maybe because I ate too much food when I wasn’t supposed to? I’m currently on Phase 2 of the South Beach diet so I should be staying away from simple carbs, like white pasta, noodles, rice, etc. So yes, I gave in yesternight and gobbled up food like a mad woman. I spent most of today either lying on my bed or sleeping. 😐

But here’s what I’ve baked for yesterday’s events –

torte

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Chocolate Walnut Torte (makes one 8-inch cake)

350F/bakes in 60 to 70 minutes

Adapted from Bake Happy (which she got from Martha Stewart)

You’ll need:

Cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl using a double-boiler or microwave. Let it cool for 3 minutes.

4. Mix sugar and vanilla extract with the chocolate-butter mixture, then mix the eggs then the buttermilk. Add the chopped walnuts.

5. Fold in the flour mixture just until incorporated.

6. Bake for 60-70mins. Test using a toothpick – few moist crumbs should stick to it. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then invert into a wire rack. Cool for three hours.

7. For the ganache, place the heavy cream and chocolate in a heat-resistant/microwave-able bowl and heat (using a double-boiler or microwave) until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Let cool for a few minutes then pour over cake. Garnish with remaining chopped walnuts.

So I got excited and took the cake out 10 minutes before the minimum baking time. I pricked it with the toothpick and got satisfied with the results. The top had a crust already so I kinda panicked. Well, when I sliced the cake, it was still a bit too fudge-y for my liking in the middle. My mom said it tasted fine though.

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2013! I have a new journal and I can’t wait to use it. And yes, I’m hoping that I’ll be spending the next holiday season with a certain special someone. 😛

I have seen snickerdoodle recipes everywhere and since I begun baking, I haven’t tried baking it. I’m not that keen on baking cookies as I don’t like my hands getting all buttery and sticky. Cleaning up takes longer and cleaning is the only thing that I hate about baking (aside from unsuccessful recipes).

I mentioned in the previous post that I have ground nutmeg in the cupboard. I have been really meaning to use it since I got it around November and luckily, I have stumbled upon Nami-Nami‘s snickerdoodle recipe that has nutmeg.

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The cookies are small (I like bite-size cookies) and they’re very cinnamon-y with a hint of nutmeg. The cookies are not without flaw though – they are somewhat on the hard side and some are bordering on being burnt. They aren’t as cracked as the other cookies I see on the net, maybe because the recipe doesn’t have cream of tartar. Plus, I think my oven thermometer is trolling me. It was in the 325F mark during baking so I waited maybe a minute or two more than the maximum suggested baking time before pulling the cookie sheets out. Then out came the not-quite-chewy-cookies. 😐

On a side-note, my 8-year old cousin helped with scooping out the dough and coating them and she told me she had fun doing that. Good job, cousin!

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Snickerdoodle Cookies (makes 35 teaspoon-sized cookies)

180C, bakes in 10-12 minutes / Adapted from Nami-Nami

 You’ll need:

125g all-purpose flour

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

62.5g of butter, softened

50g sugar

1 small egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp sugar

½ tbsp cinnamon powder

Directions:

1. Mix the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until incorporated.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix just until the flour is blended.

4. Mix the tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon powder in a small bowl.

5. Scoop teaspoon-sized dough balls and roll into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place them 3cm apart on the cookie sheet. Lightly flatten with a back of spoon or with your fingers.

6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 180C or until they are firm around the edges. The middle should still be a little soft. Remove and then place on a wire rack to cool.

These can be stored on airtight containers for a week.

Cheers to the final weekend of 2012! It’s Saturday and I was supposed to sleep in but lo and behold, I was wide awake at 8 in the morning and was already fiddling with WordPress. I realized I should start a blog that would document my adventures in cooking and baking. I’m a new baker (and cook), you see. I have been baking for just a year now. It started when I helped out my best friend make cookies for her church-mates. I remember feeling giddy while mixing the dough and using the cookie cutters and seeing the final products of our labor. When I went home, I bought ingredients and baked on my own. I wasn’t as successful as her though, so I tried using a cupcake box mix. It turned out okay, nothing spectacular. But my love for baking just grew exponentially bigger from there. I researched, watched videos, read numerous food blogs and tried their recipes. I was ecstatic! I just had one teeny problem, I didn’t have an oven that could accommodate a tray or a pan as big as 12-cup muffin pan. Baking a lot of cupcakes took forever, plus our electricity bill went high from time to time. So Christmas 2012 came and yes, I bought a bigger oven! It’s still a table-top oven though, but it can now fit a 12-cup muffin pan inside, which is good since most cupcake recipes yield 12 cupcakes anyway.

Cooking is another story. I can fry and make traditional Filipino soup dishes like sinigang and nilaga (it’s kind of like throwing everything in the pot right?). I don’t know how to make adobo, menudo and such, though. And I just remembered, I can make pasta too! Everybody here loves my aglio olio, whose recipe I have gotten from Rachel Ray. Now I can hear my tummy begging to be filled again. Goodbye South Beach diet.

It’s still a little bit early and I don’t know what to do today, aside from baking snickerdoodles which I’ll blog about later. I haven’t tried baking this cookie and I have searched the interwebs for a recipe that has nutmeg since I have the ground variety here which I have been itching to use since I bought it at Chocolate Lovers. Woah long sentence there, eh? Anyway, it’s been a great year of baking and a little bit of cooking and I look forward to more kitchen adventures in 2013!

PS. I think this year-end/start of new year post is a little bit early. I just want to write, that’s all. 😀