Monday, April 27, 2009

Orange Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

For this month's Daring Bakers' Cheesecake challenge, I made a double layered vanilla and orange cheesecake with spun sugar and carmelized lemons on top. My original plan was to make a variation along the lines of dulce de leche but went with Orange instead... a colorful, fruity cheesecake better suited the early Spring that came to POZ this year :) So like i said in my older posts, "I've never been a fan of cheesecakes. A few bites are okay, but trying to finish a big slice can be torturing sometimes. Some are just so thick and concentrated that even swallowing can be a problem". Yep, this cheesecake did exactly that... But if rich, creamy cheesecakes is what makes you happy, then this recipe is exactly what you're looking for. So as I didn't have much fun making / eating this challenge, I decided to try something new to compensate for this cheesecake letdown-- Spinning Sugar! I'm not going to go into details on the spinning since this IS a cheesecake post... but if you're interested, the website and the instructions of spun sugar can be found here. I had a lot of fun spinning nests and they upped the cheesecake beauty scale tenfold. My floor, however, turned into a huge caramel mess Sad ... definitely gonna think twice before i try rthis again next time XD.

Basic Cheesecake
(with a Double-layered Orange cheesecake variation)

a Daring Bakers' Challenge
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoon / 24 g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 680 grams / 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup / 210 g sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon liqueur (optional) but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
  • ORANGE CHEESECAKE variation:
  • 1/3 cup orange syrup
  • Red food coloring
  • Yellow food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
  2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice [pictures 1, 2]. Set crust aside.
  3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth [picture 3].
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg [picture 4].
  5. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqueur and blend until smooth and creamy [picture 5].
  6. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water [picture 9].
  7. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve [picture 10].
  8. Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
  1. After mixing all cheesecake ingredients together, seperate the mixture equally into two seperate bowls. Add 1/3 cup of orange syrup into one of the bowls, mix well [picture 6].
  2. Add both red and yellow food coloring into the orange syrup cheesecake mix until it reaches an orange color [picture 7, 8].
  3. Pour the basic white cheesecake mix onto the crust and carefully spoon the orange cheesecake mix over the white one.

Double-layered Vanilla and Orange Cheesecake
with Spun Sugar and Carmelized Lemons

Friday, April 24, 2009

Basil Vinaigrette

JLo and I took a trip to Prague and Budapest this Easter and we both returned with extra weight around our bellies :) You'd think all the walking we did in 6 days would burn off the extra calories but NOPE, it just made us hungrier and hungrier... to the point where all-you-can-eat buffets were the only places we could go to satisfy our appetites (or JLo's in particular). Sigh, that's 5 consecutive nights of buffets! I don't know how JLo did it, but my body died out after our 3rd dinner... from food poisoning! :( I'm still not sure what happened, but I'm guessing there was a bad reaction with the Mongolian barbecue and cheesecake... yea, what was i thinking mixing those two together? None of the food went down that night and i had the worst sightseeing afternoon the next day. Gah, it was horrible. My stomach seemed to repel anything that went in... so after the trip, i detoxed everyday with a bowl of tossed salad dressed with a basil vinaigrette . This dressing not only goes well with salads, but also great with grilled chicken or fish. So be sure to try this out on your next detox cycle, it'll make body-cleansing a lot more enjoyable :)

Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 small shallot (i used red onions)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil (a handful)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 9 tablespoons pure olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste.

  1. Peel and coarsely chop the shallots (or onions) and garlic [picture 1].
  2. Add all ingredients into a jar and blend with an immersion blender until creamy (a blender could be used in the absence of an immersion blender) [picture 2, 3].
  3. Add more vinegar if the mixture is too thick.
  4. Pour vinaigrette into a container with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator [picture 4].
  5. Serve vinaigrette over salad. This may also be used as a sauce over chicken, fish, or steamed vegetables.

Basil Vinaigrette

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Katsudon (豬排丼)

I noticed that I don't have much Asian recipes on here despite being asian myself, so here's a recipe for Japanese Katsudon that I got from my friend, Irene. Since JLo and I do most of our cooking in the 2nd floor kitchen of our dorm, we often bump into Irene and my brother during dinner hours. And 9 out of 10 times, they're ALWAYS making Katsudon!! I'm not kidding, their katsudon-eating frequency is about 2x a week! Hahaha, i guess it's so good that they can't get sick of it :D So after numerous katsudon requests from JLo, i gathered up what i could remember from Irene's instructions and tried it myself. Deep-frying the pork cultlets can be quite a hassle but it's all downhill once they're ready to go. The katsudon sauce recipe couldn't be more simple, and yet the taste went perfectly with a bowl of rice. After meddling in so many complicated western dishes these days, i seem to have forgotten how simple and gratifying Asian cooking can be. I really need to get back to my roots and come up with more Taiwanese/Asian food!

Katsudon (豬排丼)
from Irene, tokyocube & 小小米桶的寫食廚房
  • TONKATSU (Deep-fried Pork Cutlet):
  • 4 slices pork loin (about 1 inch thick, 100g each)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (or normal breadcrumbs)
  • Oil for deep-frying

    **Ingredients below are measured perfectly for ONE serving (one bowl of rice)**
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine (i used vodka)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup (70mL) chicken/vegetable stock or water
  • 1/3 cup thinly-sliced onions
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten (to get more colors, better presentation)
  • Spring onions, cut into strips
  • 1 bowl of rice, cooked

  1. Cut small incisions into the surface and sides of the Pork just to tenderise the meat, particularly in the muscle and fat areas, to help make the meat a little softer. [picture 1, 2].
  2. Once the meat is tenderised, sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder onto both sides [picture 3].
  3. Add the plain flour to both sides of the meat and place directly into the bowl containing mixed raw egg. After thoroughly soaking the meat with the raw egg, coat the bread crumbs all over the meat [picture 4, 5].
  4. Carefully submerge the meat in a saucepan of oil, first heating each side for 2 minutes at 150 degrees. Then, increase the heat to 180 degrees and continue heating for a further 1 minute [picture 6].
  5. Once the meat is cooked through, remove and drain well on paper towels. Cut into bite-sized strips [picture 7]. Set aside.

  6. Add soy sauce, cooking wine, mirin (optional), sugar, stock/water, and sliced onions into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and let it simmer for a few minutes [picture 8]. [The sauce will reduce over high heat so you may add a little water and taste to your liking].
  7. Carefully place 1 Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) over the sauce and onions. Pour the slightly beaten egg over the tonkatsu and sauce and sprinkle a few strips of spring onions on top [picture 9].
  8. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook until the egg is nearly set [picture 10].
  9. Remove from heat and slide everything onto your bowl of rice. Serve immediately [picture 11, 12].

Katsudon (豬排丼)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Strawberry Mousse and Brownie Cupcakes

I'm in desperate need of motivation to get myself back into the kitchen. Don't know what's gotten into me these days, but cooking/baking just seems like the last thing i want to do. I've been on my elongated Easter break for a while now and the only produce that came out of the oven were these Strawberry Mousse and Brownie Cupcakes. Sigh, i was actually looking forward to trying out some of my highly anticipated recipes during my break... i guess that's not happening anytime soon :( DANG IT. And to make myself sound even more lazy, these cupcakes are actually made from a combination of 2 of my past recipes: brownies + strawberry mousse XD. Lalalala~ So anyways, JLo and I only had one cupcake each this time (as a taste test), and the rest were packaged and specially delivered to JLo's classmate, Anders. We promised him a home-cooked meal about a month ago but our plans were never carried out due to my *)%($ FREAKIN' PHARMACOLOGY (*@&%*@ finals. And since my brain is still recuperating from that traumatic experience, I made the dessert first to carry out the 1st part of our promised dinner. Gahhhh... i feel bad for being so lazy... sorry, Anders! But your chili casserole will come soon :) Hopefully posting this up will motivate me to finish what I've started.

Strawberry Mousse and Brownie Cupcakes
makes 7 - 8 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • Strawberry mousse [see recipe below]

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (i used less)
  • 1 cup sugar (i used less)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Stir butter, sugar, and vanilla together [picture 1].
  2. Add eggs and beat well[picture 3].
  3. Separately, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt together[picture 2].
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Stir well [picture 4, 5].
  5. Fill cupcake cups with brownie batter (they should be 2/3 - 3/4 full) [picture 6].
  6. Bake 30 minutes until knife comes out clean [picture 7].
  7. After the cupcakes have cooled, use a knife and cut a hole into the cupcakes. Fill each hole with chopped strawberries [picture 8].
  8. Spoon enough strawberry mousse to cover each cupcake hole [picture 9], refrigerate.
  9. Reserve remaining mousse in a piping bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes until it has slightly solidified. Using the piping bag, decorate the cupcake in any way you'd like, be creative! Don't forget to add a berry on top ;) [picture 10].

Strawberry Mousse

This recipe makes only a small amount of mousse that should be enough to fill and decorate the cupcakes.
  • 100g fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50 mL milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  1. Blend and puree 100g of fresh strawberries. [picture 1]
  2. In a saucepan, mix the sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. [picture 2]
  3. Pour the strawberry puree (around 75 mL) into the egg mixture. Mix well. [picture 3]
  4. In another saucepan, add the gelatin and milk and heat until gelatin has dissolved. Pour it into the strawberry mixture and continue heating until everything comes together. [picture 4]
  5. Remove the mixture from the heat and place the saucepan in cold water until it reaches room temperature.
  6. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Pour it into the strawberry mixture. [picture 5]
  7. Fold until blended thoroughly. [picture 6]

Special Delivery:
Strawberry Mousse and Brownie Cupcakes