Monday, 31 December 2012

a birthday and an anniversary

It is the time of the year again...

as the new year approaches, in just a few hours...

I gladly bid farewell to year 2012...

a year filled with wonderful memories and precious moments for me to treasure in years to come...

to mark the end of yet another year of baking and blogging, I will like to share with you this banana chocolate sponge cake.

I first saw this monkey cake a year ago when I was looking for a suitable birthday cake recipe for my son. However, back then, we were away from home, and even though the service apartment came fully equipped with an oven and basic baking tools, I wasn't gung ho enough to give this a try. I am glad that I went ahead to make it ten days ago, and it turn out to be the cake of the year (for me)!

Instead of the usual sponge cake, I baked a banana sponge cake for the layers. Recently, I have a reader who encountered some problem with this banana sponge cake recipe. I really admire her never give up attitude. Although I wish I could show her how I made this cake, but, I am no professional baker and I am certainly not qualified to give any advice especially since I have not even attended any baking class. The least I could do was to bake this banana sponge cake again so that I could at least revisit the steps to ensure I didn't mislead anyone with my instructions. The cake turned out well, with a nice golden browned crust, and soft and moist texture. I am quite certain that this reader has prepared the batter correctly, the only thing I could pinpoint would be the oven temperature, could the oven be too hot?? I understand how disappointing it is whenever I have to face a failed attempt. I sincerely hope she could get it right the next time, all the best!

My child was grinning from ear to ear when I presented the cake to him. Even though he was not born in the year of the monkey, he behaves pretty much like one ;)

The banana cake was so delicious with the chocolate ganache, the only downside was, the coco pops turned soft by the time I served it, and, it was really, too cute to eat, luckily it was quite an easy cake to put together.

Happy birthday to both my little munchkin and this humble blog of mine! It seems almost like yesterday when I went home with my baby boy on a Christmas day....and, it doesn't seems too long ago when I was pondering for a name for my blog. In reality it has already been six years since I published my very first post! I really hope I could still keep it going for another year or two...

or maybe three, or four years to come....

Here's wishing all of you a joyful new year!

And may your kitchen be filled with sweet memories and wonderful aroma of freshly home baked goodies, 
all year round!  

Banana Chocolate Monkey Cake

(make one 7" round cake)

for sponge layer:
3 large eggs, room temperature
100g caster sugar (original recipe uses 150g)
3 large ripened bananas, cut into chunks
150g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
80ml vegetable oil
20ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for chocolate ganache:
170g pouring cream (I used one can Nestle pouring cream)
170g semi sweet chocolate chips (or use any dark baking chocolate, coarsely chopped)

for peanut buttercream:
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
30g icing sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
about 1 tablespoon peanut butter jam (use more if necessary)

for decoration:
chocolate flavoured rice cereals (I used one mini pack 30g kellogs coco pops)
2 regular size chocolate chips
1 large cookie


to make sponge cake:
  1. Grease (with butter) and flour sides of a 7" deep round pan (Note: original recipe calls for an 8" pan), line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Sieve together cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Sieve the flour mixture twice and set it aside.
  3. Place vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  4. Place eggs, caster sugar and bananas in a large mixing bowl. With an electric whisk, whisk the mixture at Low speed for a few seconds (to break up the bananas). Change to medium-high speed, and whisk the mixture till it becomes thick, pale and triple in volume. This should take around 7 to 8 mins. The batter should leave a ribbon like trail when the paddle is lifted. Test by lifting up the whisk/paddle, and draw an '8' with the batter. The number should stay for a few seconds. Turn to Low speed again, and beat for another 2 mins. This is to stablise the air bubbles in the batter. (Note: do not over beat the is not a good thing if the '8' doesn't disappear.)
  5. Sieve over the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Each time Fold In the flour carefully with a Spatula, making sure there is no pockets of flour being trapped at the bottom of the bowl. Do not stir the batter with the spatula, it will cause the batter to deflate too much.
  6. Pour a small portion (less than 1/3) of the batter into the mixing bowl in Step 3. Fold in with the spatula until the oil mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour the mixture in Step 6 back into the rest of the batter (Step 5).
  8. Fold in the batter with the spatula making sure the mixture is well combined. (By now the batter could be deflated by about 20% or so as compared to Step 4).
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, the pan should be about 75% to 80% full (Note: original recipe uses an 8" round pan, I baked extra batter in two muffin paper cups) .
  10. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degC for 40-45mins or longer until the surface turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. (The edges of the cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.) Remove from oven, unmold (slide a thin bladed knife along the sides of the pan) and leave to cool (inverted) on a cooling rack.

to make chocolate ganache:
  • Place cream and chocolate chips (or chopped chocolates) in a bowl. Set it over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl is big enough to sit over the saucepan).
  • Stir the mixture gently with a spoon till the chocolate melts and mixture becomes smooth. Remove from the bowl from the saucepan. Use immediately.
to make peanut buttercream:
  • Beat unsalted butter with an electric whisk in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add icing sugar, continue to beat until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add milk beat till smooth. Add peanut butter (gradually so as to adjust to the desired colour tone, use more peanut butter if necessary) and beat till smooth.

to assemble:
  • Make a simple piping bag with parchment paper (refer here for instructions). Fill the piping bag with about 1 tablespoon of chocolate ganache, set aside.
  • Slice the banana sponge cake horizontally into three layers. Place a layer of sponge cake on a cake board. 
  • Spoon about 4 heaped tablespoons of the chocolate ganache onto the surface. Spread evenly with a spatula. Repeat with the second layer of sponge cake. Place the third layer and spoon the remaining ganache over the top and spread it over to the sides. Smooth the surface with the spatula. 
  • On the cake surface, draw/outline the shape of the face of a monkey with a toothpick. Spread the peanut buttercream on the surface. Smooth the surface evenly. Place two chocolate chips (upside down) on the face to make the eyes. Pipe nose and mouth with the piping bag. 
  • Pat the chocolate rice cereal/coco pops on the chocolate frosting. Cut cookie in half and place the halves on each side of the cake for ears. (Note: as the coco pops will turn soft, I will like to suggest to frost the cake as close to serving time as possible.) Store any leftovers in fridge.
Recipe source: monkey cake adapted from here; banana sponge cake adapted from here.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

honey joy to the world

I didn't know these are known as honey joys until I came across an Australian's Women Weekly cookbook.

These honey coated cornflakes cookies or honey joys are a familiar treat during the Chinese new year. I have been looking for its recipe so that I can make them anytime of the year. It was by chance that I stumbled upon a recipe that seems close enough to the store bought ones. Besides cornflakes, the extra almond and sesame seeds greatly enhance palatability and flavour of these buttery sweet snacks, making them a real crunchy and joyful treat for anyone, on any occasion.

As the Christmas season is upon us, may simple joys and little pleasures like these honey joys bring sweet memories of the past year, and may your year ahead be sprinkled with joy and happiness!

Merry Christmas!

Honey Joys


60g unsalted butter
50g honey
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g corn flakes
100g almond flakes, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

  1. Place corn flakes, almond, sesame seeds in a big mixing bowl.
  2. Melt butter, honey, sugar and salt in a saucepan, stir to combine. Remove from heat and pour mixture over the corn flakes, almond and sesame seeds. Keep mixing with a spoon until evenly coated.
  3. Spoon cornflake mixture into mini paper case and bake on baking tray at 150°C for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool completely, store in airtight container.
Recipe source: adapted from here.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Mini Oreo Cheesecake

To my regular visitors, my apologies for the long silence.

To make up for my tardiness in updating this blog, here's a little treat from my kitchen to yours...
mini upside down oreo cheesecakes...

A month ago, I was quite caught up planning for a holiday was a last minute decision as we almost gave up the idea when we couldn't get on the flight. By chance or fate, (or rather, thanks to my never-give-up attitude of checking the airlines system every other few hours) I managed to get all of us booked on the same flight. As we neither speak or read Korean language, I had to make sure I did a thorough job of getting into the minute details to prevent any hiccups during our trip. My 'strengths' in micro-managing pays off. Everything went well, we got to visit the places we had planned and didn't have much problem finding the popular makan(eating) places. As usual, we were on a shoestring budget, everything was DIY, backpackers style...only difference was, instead of carrying backpacks we maneuvered the busy streets and from train stations to stations with cabin bags in tow ;)

Our holiday trip was a real short one...time flies and in no time we are back to our daily mundane lives :(
In between doing loads after loads of laundry, I took time to 'spot clean' my fridge. Lying in the fridge was this block of cream cheese, crying out loud to me that I was right on time, it would exceed the expiry date the very next day!

Instead of procrastinating and end up having to throw it into the bin the next day, I googled for suitable recipes that calls for cream cheese. I remember seeing some oreo cheesecake recipes some time back, and it was a good thing that the recipe requires very basic baking ingredients, and, I am never short of oreos! The only problem was, I didn't have any sour cream on hand, but I do have yoghurt in the fridge. I went ahead and replaced the sour cream with yoghurt. I guess not much damage was done...

I baked them with paper muffin whole oreo cookie is placed inside each cup before filling it up with the batter. The preparation was rather fuss free, quick and simple. I followed the baking time but extended it for another couple of minutes as I did the skewer test and the centre was still wet although the top was set. For fear of over baking, I turned off the heat even though the inside was still not set. I believe they would be fully set in the fridge (upon cooling, the cakes have to be chilled in the fridge before consuming).

My little baking retreat was a great success. These mini cheesecakes were really delicious, and I thought they looked very lovely with the oreo cookies on top :)

They are excellent after dinner treats even though I am not an oreo fan, and I am sure they would jazz up any tea time tables especially when there are guests around ;)

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

(makes about 10)

15 Oreo cookies (10 leave as whole, 5 remove cream and coarsely chopped)
8oz pack cream cheese, room temperature
50g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
60g sour cream (I replaced with plain yoghurt)


  1. Preheat oven to 135 DegC (275°F).
  2. Place one whole cookie in each of the 10 muffin paper cups (or line muffin tins with paper liners). 
  3. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer (medium high speed) until smooth. 
  4. Add in sugar, beat until just combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  5. Add in vanilla extract, beat until just combined. 
  6. Gradually drizzle in the egg, beat to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. 
  7. Add in sour cream, beat till just combined. 
  8. Add chopped cookies, fold with a spatula. 
  9. Fill each muffin cup almost to the brim. Bake for about 22~25 minutes until the filling is set and not jiggly. Transfer to wire rack, leave to cool completely. Cover or store in airtight containers and leave to refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove cake from muffin cups, serve cookies sides up.

Recipe source: adapted recipe from here.