Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

triple chocolate mousse cake

Happy Valentine's Day! Last weekend we had a Valentine's Day dinner at my in-law's house and I wanted to make a special dessert just for the occasion. I decided to make this triple chocolate mousse cake I saw on the i-heart-baking blog. I had to search a little for the recipe but I found Ina's chocolate cake recipe on the foodnetwork website and the mousse recipe from annie's eats blog. Using a triple heart cupcake stencil and red sugar sprinkles I decorated the cake with some valentine decorations.  I found the little cupcake stencils (packet of four different patterns with hearts and valentine sayings) in the dollar section at Target.  The only problem was I couldn't keep the sprinkles from getting it turned out a little messier than I had hoped. Overall, the family got the picture and the cake was divine. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chinese New Year Cake

 chinese new year cake (nien-gao)

Every Chinese New Year we have this dessert called "nien-gao".  It's a chewy sweet dessert that my mom would slice into thin strips, dip in egg and pan fry to get a nice crispy layer on the outside and a gooey warm center. The "cake" is made out of glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, coconut cream and water and steamed instead of baked.  I really wanted to learn how to make it this year since I've really only watched my mom make it before.  So I called her up to get the recipe and to my suprise she and my oldest sister came over and helped me make it!  

"Nien-Gao" recipe:

1 pkg.  glutinous rice flour
1 lb.     dark brown sugar
1 can    coconut cream
1 cup    water

For the batter, mix all the ingredients together and it's best to use your hands to mix it and make sure there are no clumps of sugar and flour. Lighly grease a round cake pan (I used 2 small 3.5" springform pans to make mini ones, but if you use a springform pan be sure to wrap the bottoms with foil to avoid leakage). My mom usually uses an 8" round cake pan. Pour the batter through a sieve as you pour it into the pans to ensure all the clumps are out.  Put the pans in a steamer for 20 minutes for the mini ones or up to an hour for an 8" pan (or until a bamboo chopstick/skewer comes out clean). Let cool and garnish with sesame seeds and a dried cranberry (or traditionally a dried date).

When fresh it's soft enough the just slice up and eat as is.  But after it's been in the fridge and hardens up a little, it's great to slice up and pan fry. My mom would always dip it in egg (and traditionally I believe this is done) but I found that with a non-stick pan it's fine to just leave out the egg.  I love it this way! It's so simple and I'm glad I got to learn how to make this special dessert with my mom and sister.