Saturday 21 June 2014

Snow Pears with Chuan Bei and Snow Fungus

Further to my earlier post on Steamed Pears with Chuan Bei 川贝蒸糖梨, here's another similar dessert, Snow Pear with Chuan Bei and Snow Fungus 川贝雪梨汤.

The basic ingredients include asian pears (I used ya pears 鸭梨 as they are readily available), chuan bei (fritillaria bulbs), dried snow fungus and rock sugar.

These ingredients has medicinal benefits to help remove heat from body, clear phlegm, relieve cough, bring moisture to the lungs, soothes and nourishes the respiratory tract.

This nourishing dessert is very quick and easy to prepare, simply by simmering the ingredients for about 30 minutes. Due to the short cooking time, the snow fungus will be slightly crunchy and not overly soft or gelatinous in texture. The soup will remain clear and not 'cloudy'. Although I prefer to cook snow fungus in savoury soups till it turns very soft, silky and gelatinous, for this sweet dessert, I like it that the soup is clear, making it very refreshing especially when served chilled. The shorter cooking time also means that the pears still has a slight crunch and not soft and mushy.

Do note that this dessert is good for treating cough (热咳) developed from heaty cold (风热感冒). However, it is not meant to treat cold cough due to 风寒感冒 as chuan bei is very cooling to the body.

If the chuan bei is omitted, it is still a nice and refreshing dessert to help remove heat and quench thirst especially during such hot weather.

Snow Pears with Chuan Bei and Snow Fungus 川贝雪梨汤

(serves 4)

1 clump dried snow fungus, about 20g
5g fritillaria bulbs, chuan bei (川贝)
3 snow pears (I used ya pear,鸭梨), skin on
30g rock sugar (use more if desired)
4 cups water

  1. Soak dried snow fungus in water for about 30mins or till soften. Wash and rinse the soaked snow fungus. Trim and discard the hard yellow part at the base. Cut the rest of the snow fungus into small pieces.
  2. Soak chuan bei in water for about 10 mins, discard the water.
  3. Wash the pears (rub the skin with some salt and wash thoroughly). Do not peel away the skin. Remove core and cut into bite-size chunks.
  4. Bring the water to full boil in a large pot. Add pears, chuan bei and snow fungus and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover the pot with lid and leave to simmer for 30mins.
  5. Add in rock sugar, leave to simmer for another 5 to 10mins till the sugar fully dissolved, add more rock sugar if desired.
  6. Serve the dessert either hot or chilled (let cool and leave to chill in the fridge before serving).
*Note: Chuan bei is not suitable for those with weak spleen and stomach and is not for treating cold coughs.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake

After baking a batch of Oreo Cream Cheese Buns, I was left with half a block of cream cheese. Not knowing what to do with the leftovers, I tried googling for a suitable recipe to use it. I searched using the keywords "125g cream cheese", nothing interesting or suitable came up. I then tried googling in Chinese, "125g 奶油芝士" and this recipe popped right up.

The blog post with the title "125g的奶油芝士也能做出香浓的日式轻芝士蛋糕" caught my attention immediately. This is exactly what I am looking use only 125g cream cheese to make a Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake!

I didn't have much luck with Japanese style cotton soft cheesecake on my previous attempt, once out of the oven, it sank, shrank and developed a 'waist' despite leaving the cake to cool in the oven before unmoudling. However, after my successful attempt at making the 3 ingredients Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake, my confidence level went up :)

I adapted the original recipe a little just to round off the ingredients amount. I baked the cake at 150degC for 60mins. The cake rose nicely and the top was baked to a beautiful golden hue without me having to adjust the temperature or to tent the top with foil. The cake was able to hold the structure so well probably because of the number of egg whites used and the relatively higher amount of flour. This is the first time I baked something using 5 whole eggs, I was actually a little overwhelmed with the shear amount of egg whites that was being whipped up!

Instead of leaving the cake to cool in the oven, I removed it immediately once the baking time was up. Once out of the oven, I dropped the cake pan at a height onto my kitchen counter top (I used a cork mat to protect the counter top). I read that this action helps to get rid of the hot air inside the cake quickly so that the cake will not sink or shrink too much (this also applies to chiffon cakes and bread loaves). I removed the cake from the pan right after as I didn't want it to cool off inside the pan. For me, it is best to remove the cake from the pan while it is still hot, as upon cooling, the top of the cake (the papery thin golden crust) will stick to anything that comes into contact, be it my fingers or a plate.  The cake pan and the cake itself was very hot, making it a little tricky to unmold especially I had used a cake pan with a fixed base. I had to invert the cake twice so that I could remove the baking paper on the sides and bottom, before leaving it to cool right side up on the cooling rack. It would be easier if I were to use a pan with a removable base. However, as the cake is baked using the water bath method, even if the pan is wrapped with foil, somehow water condensation may still occur, leaving the bottom of the cake dense and wet.

This cake is a lighter version of the usual Japanese soufflé cheesecake, the texture was soft and moist, something we could eat one slice after another without having to feel too guilty. Do give this a try if you ever run out of idea what to do with half a block of cream cheese. I feel that this is quite a fool proof recipe especially so if you are good in making chiffon cakes but no luck with Japanese soufflé cheesecake.

Happy Baking!

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake 日式舒芙蕾芝士蛋糕

(makes one 8" cake)

125g cream cheese, cut into cubes
60g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 egg yolks (I used eggs with net weight of 55g)
125g milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
75g cake flour
35g corn flour

5 egg whites (I used eggs with net weight of 55g)
120g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

  • Line the base and sides of a 8" round cake pan(fixed base) with parchment paper. For the sides, make sure the parchment paper extends higher than the cake pan by about 1.5 inches as the cake will expand and rise above the rim of the pan, set aside. 
  • Sieve together cake flour and corn flour, set aside.
  • Place cream cheese, milk and butter in a large mixing bowl. Set the mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the mixing bowl is bigger than the sauce pan). Let the mixture melts and stir till smooth. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
  • When ready, add the egg yolks to the cream cheese and butter mixture, one at a time, and with a balloon whisk, whisk to combine. 
  • Add lemon juice, whisk to combine.
  • Sieve over the flour mixture, whisk to combine. Small lumps may form once the flour is added, whisk the batter gently till there are no lumps, do not over mix. 
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites and lemon juice with an electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar and turn to medium-high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar mixture in separate additions and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. Turn to low speed and beat for another 1 to 2 mins (this helps to stabilise the air bubbles). 
  • Add the beaten egg whites to the cream cheese mixture in 3 separate additions, each time fold with a rubber spatula (I prefer to use a balloon whisk) until just blended.
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter.
  • Place cake pan in a baking tray. Fill the baking tray with hot water (the water should rise up to about 1 inch of the cake pan).
  • Place on lower rack of the oven and bake at 150 degC for 60 mins. 
  • Remove cake pan from oven and immediately drop the pan at a height of 20~30cm onto the table top. This helps to prevent the cake from shrinking upon cooling. Unmould the cake immediately. To unmold, place a large plate or baking sheet on top of the cake pan, invert the cake pan onto the plate/baking sheet. Remove the cake pan and the parchment paper on the base and sides of the cake (Note: do use oven mitten as the cake pan will be very hot). Next, place a cooling rack on the base of the cake, invert the cake right side up onto the cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Leave the cake to chill in the fridge for about 2 to 3 hours, best overnight, before serving. 
Recipe source: adapted from here.