Thursday, 26 September 2013

dessert in a glass

If you are a parent of a P6 student in a local school here, you would probably know why I have been missing in actions for the past weeks ;)

Today marks the beginning of the much anticipated (with stress and agony on my part) primary school leaving examination or better known by the 4 letter 'word', psle ;) This national examination also marks the last leg of my younger child's 6 year primary school education. After crossing this huge hurdle, it is not the end, but a beginning of a new chapter for his next phase of education.

I have refrained from baking or indulge in photography or blogging for the past few weeks...just so that I won't feel guilty about not spending quality time with my child. I am blessed with a boy who has his own initiatives to do his own revisions without much guidance or coaching. He has certainly put in a lot of effort to prepare for this exam. I am truly blessed as I didn't have a hard time too when my elder child took his psle a couple of years back.

History repeats itself while I read through my older post about how my elder child prepared for this much dreaded (by parents) national examination. Just like his brother, my younger son went through the same phase. I would think he is in a much better position than his brother since his mother is 'wiser' and less stressed up and has since learned to be more relax after having gone through the cycle once ;)

Ok, enough of my ranting, and I would like to end this post with a simple, easy to put together yet delicious dessert...No bake cheesecakes in pots!

I bought these tiny pudding bottles when I was in Beijing a few years back. I didn't really have much chance to use them until now. Don't be misled by the photographs, these bottles are really tiny, it can only hold 180ml of water!

Instead of making a big no bake cheesecake, I have used the bottles to make individual portions. The steps are pretty much the same as a no bake cheesecake. First layer the bottom with a biscuit base, followed by the cream cheese filling and topped off with some homemade blueberry sauce. The sauce can be made within a few minutes just by cooking blueberries with some caster sugar.

It is quite a 'light' dessert as I have used non fat plain yoghurt instead of heavy cream. I wouldn't say it is a healthy dessert as cream cheese is really fattening ;) However, since one single portion is really quite small, as long as we eat in moderation, I would think it is still a nice sweet treat to serve your family or friends.

I have also made another version using small glasses and topped it with homemade strawberries sauce. Unlike the blueberries version, the strawberries I bought were a bit too tangy. If you were to follow my recipe and would like to use strawberries instead, do adjust/increase the amount of sugar so that the sauce will be sweeter especially if your have got sweet tooth.

Here's wishing all P6 students, all the best for the psle!

and best wishes to all Mummies,

endure, endure, and it will be over very soon ;)

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Pots

(makes 6)

125g blueberries (about 1 punnet)
2 tablespoons caster sugar

75g digestive biscuits (about 5)
25g unsalted butter

250g cream cheese, soften at room temperature
50g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140g non fat plain natural yoghurt (I used one 140g tub marigold non fat yoghurt)

  • Heat about 1/3 of the blueberries and caster sugar in a small pan over medium to low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the berries have broken down. Add the rest of the blueberries, cook for another 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Crumb the digestive biscuits with the blender attachment of the Bosch MUM5 home professional kitchen machine until they resemble breadcrumbs. Mix the crumbs and the melted butter with a spoon until the crumbs are moistened. Spoon equal portion of the mixture (about 2 tablespoons) into the bottom of 6 dessert pudding bottles or shot glasses (size: 180ml/3 oz). Lightly press down the mixture into the bottom of the bottles or shot glasses. Leave to chill in fridge.
  • Place cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in the mixing bowl of the Bosch MUM5 kitchen machine. Mix on speed 4 with the silicone flexible whisk attachment for 3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Add in yoghurt and continue to beat for about 1 minute till the mixture is thoroughly blended.
  • Spoon cream cheese mixture into the prepared pudding bottles or shot glasses (about 3 tablespoons per glass). Leave to chill in the fridge.
  • Top with the blueberry sauce before serving.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My new kitchen helper

Even though I have been a keen home baker for the past few years, I have never thought of getting a stand mixer, I don't even own a food processor for my daily cooking. A heavy duty stand mixer is neither a need nor a want (^^")

So when Bosch invited me to participate in the review of their recently launched new Bosch MUM5PRO HomeProfessional Kitchen Machine MUM57830 and to provide a couple of recipes using this appliance, I was a little hesitant to accept the invitation.

Frankly, I wasn't sure whether I would be using the machine that regularly as I hardly even use my old handheld electric mixer. I really don't like the idea of having a white elephant permanently gracing my kitchen counter. Most importantly, I don't know whether I am capable of providing recipes that could meet Bosch expectations and requirements for sharing on its website.

It was only after watching the food preparation demo videos by Chef John See from The Food Dot, using the MUM5PRO and the MUM8 kitchen machine, that I started to changed my mine. You see, my husband spent a few minutes of his time to watch the videos with me, and after watching Chef See making a loaf of banana bread with gula melaka butterscotch effortlessly using the Bosch MUM8 kitchen machine, we were really impressed. I actually envisioned my husband making a cake for me! For someone who can't even cook decent instant noodles, the act of merely adding ingredients into the mixing bowl and letting the machine do most of the work seems easy enough for him ;)

With the assuring words from my baking friend, I plucked up my courage to accept the offer. I am just a self-taught home baker, and my baking doesn't go beyond the usual simple cakes, cookies and muffins. I feel really honoured to be given this opportunity to take up the challenge of trying out new recipes using the kitchen machine.

I must say I am very glad that I made the right decision when I received the complimentary set of machine. I love the sleek, modern design of this mixer which match perfectly with the 'look and feel' of my kitchen. Best of all, it is not as bulky as I had expected.

This kitchen appliance is more than a stand mixer. With the citrus press, continuous shredder and blender attachments, it works as a food processor, food mixer and a blender as well. Switching from one appliance to another is very easy with the easy lift swivel arm. For someone with no experience using a stand mixer or a food processor, I could handle the machine with ease.

To use it as a stand mixer, the machine is equipped with a silicon flexible whisk, a beating whisk and a kneading hook. This appliance comes with a powerful 900 watts motor (great for kneading bread dough), and has 7 speeds and a pulse function. The base of the machine is fitted with rubber suction feet which provides extra stability.

To me, the citrus press attachment is a great accessory. I can use it to squeeze lemon or orange juice as and when it is called for in baking recipes; then change it easily to the whisk attachment to proceed with preparing the rest of the batter. When the appliance is switched on, the citrus press will spin and all I needed to do was to hold on to the fruit. While testing the citrus press attachment, I discovered an important safety feature...the machine is designed to make sure the accessories are correctly attached otherwise it will not start.

The continuous shredder attachment comes with 3 discs which can be used for slicing, shredding herbs, fruits and vegetables and grating nuts. The plastic blender attachment can be used for blending drinks, puree fruits and vegetables, it can also be used for cutting fruits, nuts and for crushing ice cubes as well.

As a stand mixer, the machine is designed in such a way that the whisk moves in an elliptical motion which ensures every part of the mixing bowl is reached. I used the silicon flexible stirring whisk to prepare a batch of cream cheese fillings. The batter was thoroughly mixed and became very smooth and well blended within a couple of minutes of whisking. I like this silicon edged mixing blade as it can scrape down the mixture as it run along the side of the bowl.

I tested the balloon whisk by making some molten chocolate cakes. The recipe calls for beating whole eggs and sugar together just like making a sponge cake. I set the machine to run on high speed and the batter was thick and ribbon-like after 3 to 4 minutes. The machine could get noisy when it is set to run at high speed. Luckily it is an efficient machine and the batter was ready in less than 5 minutes.

To break up the large air bubbles formed, I turned it to low speed and I could notice the batter becoming more smooth and stable with less foams. This is something I could hardly achieve with my handheld electric whisk. Due to the design of the handheld whisk, even on low speed, the paddle still spin vigorously within its own axis, whereas this Bosch machine is able to move slowly and gently in a larger circular movement. I have also used this whisk attachment to beat egg whites for a chiffon cake. Base on my past experience with beating egg whites with my handheld whisk, this mixer appears to be able to beat egg whites to a much fuller volume.

While preparing the batter for the molten chocolate cake, I had to fold the flour into the mixture. Unlike the normal mixing bowl, the bottom of the mixer's bowl is slightly raised in the middle. This makes folding a little tricky for a first timer as I couldn't scrape the spatula right under the bowl without hitting the raised part. Fortunately, I figured out a way to get around it. I titled the bowl slightly and I was able to fold in the flour smoothly.

Of all the three beaters, I love the dough hook best since I like baking bread for my family. I left the machine to knead a rather wet and sticky dough for 15~20 minutes until the dough reached the window pane stage. The dough became very smooth and elastic and I could pull and stretch it into a thin membrane. My bread machine will need double the time to knead dough to this stage. The maximum speed for the dough hook attachment is speed 3 so there wasn't much noise from the machine when operated at such low speed; and because of the suction feet, it sat very sturdy on my kitchen counter while it knead continuously for at least 15 minutes. The machine didn't feel warm or show any sign of being over heated after being set to run for so long. It also comes with a transparent lid with filler hole to keep flour from settling all over the work area during the initial mixing.

Overall, this Bosch MUM57830 is an easy to use all-in-one kitchen helper. Cleaning up is not very different from what I would do with my handheld mixer or manual whisk. I will certainly put it to good use since I am very happy with the dough kneading function. It is great for beating egg whites too as I no longer have to juggle a handheld mixer in one hand while trying to add spoonfuls of sugar with another. With more practice, I think I could even leave the machine to run on its own while I prepare the yolk batter whenever I crave for a chiffon cake. I will also be able to explore a wider range of recipes now that I have a food processor and a blender :)

I am really lucky to be invited to take part in this review, till now I still couldn't believe I am a proud owner of a new kitchen machine. Good things do come to those who bakes!

PS: This is not a paid review but I was provided with a set of the Bosch kitchen machine for my use when I participated in their review and recipes exercise.

Click here to visit Bosch's recipe page for quick and easy recipes you can prepare at home with a range of Bosch food preparation appliances such as the Bosch ErgoMixx product.