Pandan Chiffon Cake


Morning markets in Malaysia have abundance of these chiffon cakes to sell. I used to eat pandan chiffon cake for breakfast almost every morning when I was a kid. To the extend that I don’t fancy it anymore. Sure chiffon cakes are light, soft and fluffy but I begin to find it dry, bland and like eating a piece of sponge!

20 years down the line, I am craving for the cake I had for breakfast so often as a kid. The asian bakeries here sell chiffon cakes at ridiculous prices because it is “rare”!

So I consulted the 21st century oracle that is Google and found this recipe that is reasonably do-able and produces a soft, fluffy and fragrant pandan chiffon cake. And surprisingly moist too. Definitely better than those I ate as a kid.

You will need 1.5 cups of self-raising flour and 3 bowls/containers to organise the following ingredients:

Bowl A

  • 165 ml (1 small can) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pandan essence
  • Half teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Green food colouring (until a light green colour is achieveed)

Bowl B (Mixing bowl)

  • 6 egg whites
  • Half cup sugar

Bowl C (Large mixing bowl)

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Method:

  1. Heat up the oven to 160 degrees Celcius.
  2. Start by preparing the ingredients of Bowl A in a container, stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Seperate 6 eggs – yolks into a large mixing bowl (Bowl C) and whites in another large bowl suitable for mixing (Bowl B), and add sugar accordingly to each bowl.
  4. Bowl A: Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Keep in the fridge.
  5. Bowl B: Beat the yolks and sugar until pale and triple in size.
  6. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour into yolk mixture gradually until well combined.
  7. Pour ingredients in Bowl A into Bowl B (yolk mixture) and stir to combine.
  8. Slowly and gradually, gently fold in the egg whites (Bowl A) into Bowl B until well combined. Careful not to deflate the mixture too much.
  9. Pour batter into a 12-in round cake tin and bake immediately at 160 degrees Celcius for 50 minutes on middle rack.
  10. Cool the cake upside down for at least an hour.

Yes, you read the last step right. It is very important to cool the chiffon cake upside down to ensure it stays light and fluffy after cooled instead of squished due to gravity. Therefore, it is essential to have a special chiffon cake pan that is somewhat like a ring cake pan.

The chiffon cake can rise very high in the oven and if you cool it upside down, it stays at this height after its cooled

I don’t have a chiffon cake pan and I have used a regular spring-form round cake pan. Sometimes my chiffon cake held together as I invert it to cool upside down, but a few times it fell from the pan flat! So I didn’t take the risk to invert it this time and my chiffon cake is a little squished at the bottom. It turned out quite decent nevertheless.

Not so high anymore!

Note to self: Buy chiffon cake pan!

Happy Grass Konnyaku Jelly


Define dessert. Something that is sweet, good and heavenly but usually does not fill you up for long despite containing calories as high as one complete balanced meal.

I have a very sweet tooth and also trying to control my daily calorie intake. Not a good combination.

Mango flavoured konnyaku jelly powder

Then there’s Happy Grass Konnyaku Jelly powder. It comes in so many fruit flavours – lychee, mango, strawberry, kiwi fruit, apple etc. One packet (250 grams) of jelly powder yields 1.5 kg of yummy fruit jelly. That’s one 9 X 9-inch square pan of crystal clear konnyaku jelly. Total calories: only 183!

Its vegetarian, fat free, gluten free, egg free, dairy free and halal…..and oh-so-yum! Guaranteed to please everyone. It has a very high fibre content too. What more can a dieter ask?

Dissolve the jelly powder in 1250 ml of water and bring to boil, then add in the provided Malic acid, pour into a square baking pan to cool and chuck the whole thing into the fridge to set completely. Or, you can pour it into pretty little moulds with pieces of fruit like the illustration on its packet. I think its tasty enough on its own. Plus, I am lazy and I don’t want to add in extra calories 🙂

I usually cut my jelly into squares and eat them straight from the pan over a few days. Or, I serve them in a nice glass bowl. Very presentable if you have guests over.

One 9 X 9 inch pan like mine easily yields 64 jelly squares. That’s less than 3 calories per square!

Definitely my kind of dessert/snack.

Tiramisu


When my friend Lyazzat first showed me how to make Tiramisu, I could hardly believe how easy it is to prepare this popular and expensive Italian desert. This recipe is originally from another friend, Fariza but I added an extra ingredient – brandy or white wine which is totally optional. The best part of making this is, there’s no cooking or baking needed! Unless you count making coffee as cooking! This is a sure crowd pleaser, a must try.

Ingredients:

  • A packet of Unibic sponge fingers
  • A regular cup of strong black coffee (no sugar added)
  • A block of Philadelphia cream cheese (250g) – room temperature
  • A bottle of full dairy cream (500ml) – chilled
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • Half cup brandy or white wine (optional)
  • Cocoa powder for garnishing

Method:

  1. Beat or mix cream cheese, full dairy cream and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
  2. If using brandy or white wine, mix it into your cup of coffee, pour into a shallow bowl.
  3. Quickly roll sponge fingers in the coffee mixture to coat it and line it on a baking tray or casserole one by one. I used the plastic tray that came with the sponge fingers package. Be careful not to soak the fingers too much or it will become soggy.
  4. Spread a one-inch-thick layer of cream cheese mixture onto the sponge fingers.
  5. Repeat with another layer of coffee coated fingers.
  6. Finish with a slightly thinner layer of cream cheese mixture.
  7. Chill inside the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours. For best results, chill overnight.
  8. Sprinkle evenly and generously with cocoa powder on top when ready to cut and serve.

If you substitute the sponge fingers with coffee sponge cake, or any sponge cake wetted with black coffee, and use the same cream cheese mixture for layering and frosting, you’ll get a tiramisu cake 🙂

White Fungus With Longan Drink


Its summer in New Zealand now and the heat in Auckland can be unbearable. What more perfect than a nice chilling beverage to cool the body and cheer me up. In Malaysia cheap and abundant stalls selling fresh coconut juice solves the problem. But coconuts in New Zealand costs like $4 each….at least! Ice creams are nice of course but it just makes you thirsty. Soft drinks and beer aren’t my cup of tea. I always liked chinese herbal tea (leung-sui) though. So I’ve decided that the boiled fungus and longan drink (suet-yee-longan) would be ideal for summer.

Ingredients

  • White fungus, about 1 handful
  • Dried longans, about half a handful, rinsed
  • 2-3 pcs honey dates (mat-joe), optional, rinsed
  • 2 strips pandan leaves
  • Sugar to taste

Method

  1. First soak the white fungus until its expanded and soft. Break it off into bite size pieces, wash and drain.
  2. Bring about 3.0 liters of water to boil in a pot with pandan leaves.
  3. Once boiling add in the fungus and dates if using. Bring to boil again.
  4. Once boiling, add in sugar to taste and bring to boil. Sugar is added early so that it has time to caramelise.
  5. Once boiling, lower the heat and let simmer covered for about 45 minutes or until the fungus is no longer “crunchy”.
  6. Add in longans. If necessary, season with sugar and/or add water. Bring to boil.
  7. Once boiling, lower heat and let simmer for another 20-30 minutes.
  8. All done!

I usually let it cool before consuming. For best results, I usually chill it in the fridge over night and its perfect for dessert or just a beverage by itself the next day! The soft and juicy longans with the silky fungus and slightly thick sweet pandan-scented broth says it all 🙂