Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Cake...

I've always been a snob for good chocolate cake-which is probably the reason why I have never really tried to make one of my own..

Growing up, my mom was always cooking, and baking (mostly baking)- and the one big thing to request for during birthdays and big celebrations was her Famous Chocolate Cake.

Now I wish I could say I have the recipe on hand, but the dear mother refuses to share it with me, and thus I am in the dark. I haven't had in it oh, say 8 years already.. but I can still remember that smell of chocolate cake baking in the oven..and it's oh so deliciousness..


Sweet, but not too sweet..

Moist on the inside, yet perfectly chewy on the sides...

Yes, the sides.. mmm my favourite parts :D

And the thing is, compared to alot of chocolate cakes that I've seen, my mom's cake doesn't have that overbearing pile of frosting.. I'm not a fan of frosting only because her cakes never really had that.. although I think there was a very thin dark chocolate glaze that covered the entire cake..
Oh My! I'm drooling now thinking about it!

So aniways, last Friday was Gaya's birthday, and her hubby decided to throw her a surprise bday party (dinner+dancing+the works)!! :)

Prabu, her husband whisked her off to the salon in the afternoon (accompanied by Bel), while the rest of us came prepared to help cut, chop, and cook curry, rice, chapati, and veggies!

I decided to bake a cake for Gaya, and after discussing it with Prabu, I scrapped the Strawberry Shortcake Cake idea (which btw, I found the best looking recipe! <--I say that because I haven't exactly made it, but it looks like a winner so far ;)), and decided to go with Barefoot Contessa's Choc. Cake recipe...

It was a little two sweet, but overall I think people liked it..
-And thanks to Nishan who was a good sport and helped me bake the cake.. and even though we ran into some problems (springform pans leaking, cake too flat, cake stuck to bottom of pan, spatula dillema (tee hee!), frosting shortage..- you get the idea), I think we managed to do pretty well for first timers! :D
C'est Voila!
Barefoot Contessa's Beatty's Chocolate Cake
For the cake batter:

Butter (to grease the pans)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good dutch cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup veggie oil
2 extra-large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Butter 2 9in round pans - line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
3. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix on low speed (or by hand) until combined.
4. In bowl #2, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
5. With mixer on low speed, slowly add in the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add the coffee and stir just to combine.
6. Pour batter into both pans, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, til the toothpick test comes out clean :)
7. Cool the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

For Chocolate Frosting:

6oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 extra-large egg, (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners/powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

1. Chop chocolate (or use chocolate chips) and melt in a double boiler. Turn of heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. In a bowl, beat butter on medium speed (or by hand) til light and fluffy (3 mins), add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating (2 mins).
3. Turn mixer on low, and gradually add in the confectioners sugar, then beat on medium speed til lsmooth and creamy.
4. Dissolve coffee powder in 2 tablespoon of hot water. On low speed, add in the coffee and melted chocolate to the butter mixture and mix til blended. (Do Not Whip!) <--Spread immediately on cooled cake.

Assembling your cake:
1. Place your cake, 1st layer flat side up on a pedestal or plate. With a knife, spread the top with frosting (don't be afraid to be generous!).
2. Place the 2nd layer, rounded side up on top of the 1st layer, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

----> (And to decorate):
Garnish with chocolate covered strawberries or fresh fruits! :D

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Every Picture (collage) Has A Story..

So instead of a long post of just pictures, I decided to use good ol' Picassa to make collages and sum up my recent adventures :D

Collage #1:

A Kelly+Pei outing! It was the night of the UT vs. Alabama BCS National Championship Game that we had gotten yummy Korean food and then decided to head out to a bar to watch the big game! That's right.. I insisted on a "Football & Beer Girl's Night"! Booya! We went to Ernie's to meet up with a friend and her husband, and sipped on beer while cheering (for the opposite team :P)! - Although, I have to admit that UT wasn't doing very well without their QB there.. not as good a game as expected..

Collage #2:
A QA day at Discovery Green! A friend had told me about an ice sculpting competition going on that weekend at Discovery Green, and seeing how it was a little too late to gather a group to go, I took a little trip all by myself! I loved it - beautiful weather, screaming kids, and ice flying here and there :D And of course, a chance to take fun pictures :) Wheeee..

Collage #3:

Later that same afternoon, I met up with my Biochem&Genetics girls! :D It's been too longsince we last hung out, and it's the first time since we graduated that we've all been able to meetup! Everyone's been busy with school and work, and the X-mas break was the best time to meet :) Yay for catching up and Ruggles wraps! Picture with all 5 of us: (L-R) Wendy, Sarah, Shefali, Sora (who's not B&G) and me :) :)

Collage #4:
Sometime on Saturday, I had gone over to make Tiramisu with Bel & Gaya, and stayed till 2am that night.. What did we do? Well, made a fire and roast S'mores, duh!! Tee hee.. Prabu, my brother and Jon gathered the firewood, the girls got the ingredients ready, and Nishan expertly showed us how to make a fire haha.. what I didn't get a picture of was us sacrificing gummy bears to the fire *grinn*
Collage #5:
A S'more party is never complete without an ooeyy gooey picture of us all biting into this deliciousness ;) And a party is never complete without playing goofy games and huddling close to the fire talking.. Yay for a good weekend!
Collage #6:
Having a blast trudging through mud, and getting our fingers and feet dirty from Paintballing!! Whoop! Who knew I'd be an expert at sniping *grinn* Surprisingly there were no squeals and shrieks from the girls (YAY!), and I'm pretty sure that everyone enjoyed themselves!
Next post: Baking Adventures!!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Official..

I just got my Australian Student Visa approved today!

I'm relieved to know that the process is finally over, but now I'm getting sad thinking of all the friends and people I have to leave behind.. :'(

This is very sad indeed.

My highlights of the weekend:
1. Irene's surprise end of exam potluck :D I love friends who cook amazing food, and spending time just having fun! Playing the broken telephone game, Super Mario, and being goofy till 3am!
2. Paintball with the Msians in muddy, cold weather.. but it was so much fun, and we all had some pretty fun stories and battles wounds to talk about ;)
3. My Surprise Farewell Party organized by my brother and nearly ruined by me! haha.. I nearly didn't make it which made my brother leak the secret out but it all worked out eventually and we had the best time Karaoke-ing, singing and dancing out hearts out like there was no tomorrow! :D
4. Spending time with Hannah and Khalisa, and the bear hug I got :) I shall miss you HL :'(

Snippets of the night :D
With Casey, Gaya, Gowri :)

With Prabu, Marcos and Nishan

Singing with Albert, bro, and Alvin

The girlsss!!! Irene, Bel, me, Gaya and Gowri

<3 <3 <3
Not exactly the end of the night ;)


Friday, January 8, 2010

O' My Buns!

... indeed so. *grinn*

The last time I went back to Malaysia with the family, I made a list of all the different kinds of food I wanted to eat. The ones at the top were mainly junk food, street food and of course, seafood!

Around that time, the craze for butter buns (bwhahaha..) seemed to spread like wildfire, and I found myself standing in line buying these yummy deliciousness at every mall trip! The francise name is Roti Boy, and it's really a simple butter bun with a crisp coffee topping..

And then recently a friend told me that they sell it by the dozens here in the US, most commonly known as the Mexican bun.. hmm.. Who knew?

Well, a branch from Roti Boy (called O' My Buns) mysteriously showed up in Dallas, and when Kelly came to stay she brought me 2! Yummers! :) Scrumpdiddlyumtious!

So out of curiousity, I looked up "Roti Boy recipe", and House of Annie's has this amazing recipe as well as step by step pictures on how to make it from scratch!

Future baking adventure?? I think so!


"Well now, who is going to eat this loaf of bread?" asked the little red hen.
"I will", said the duck.
"I will", said the pig.
"I will", said the cat.
"Oh no you won't", said the little red hen. "I am going to eat it myself."
Then she called all her little chicks together and they ate the whole loaf of bread. Not a crumb was left for the duck, pig or cat.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hello, 2010!


Well, hello there!
It's been awhile, but I'm back with more updates!

-My parents came into town mid November, and because of crunch time, I decided to bite the bullet and accept the Masters program in Australia.. so I'll be going down under, mates! I'm super excited but this also means leaving behind good friends and people I've started to bond with :'(
-Moving all of my stuff along with my parent's shipment from Houston.. which meant:
1. No crafting
2. No sewing
3. Living on an air mattress and a very much empty room save my luggage bags..
-Volunteering like crazy at the museum! I got to teach a girl scouts class, an eye dissection, fetal pig dissection, lungs class as well as write up a curriculum on the Scientific Method! :D Yay to 119 hours served!
-Spending time with family friends, having Kelly stay over, and taking mini trips to Dallas & College Station to hang out with people!
-Getting my Aggie ring resized.. *sob!
-Applying for my Australian Visa and going through awkward medical exams.. haha!

And finally.. Spending New Years with the Malaysians! :D

I haven't really thought about 2010 resolutions, but here's some... :P
1. Working out, and getting in shape..
2. Keeping in touch with friends and aquaintances
3. Getting my Masters and getting a job <--that will be in June 2011
4. Being less of a introvert, and getting out of my comfort zone
5. Be more open to new opportunities.. ;)
6. Take more pictures, cook more, sew more, craft more :)
7. Listen more, love more, laugh more, be more patient.
Toasting to the New Year! WHOOP!