Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Vodka Icing

(I'm terrible at icing cupcakes)

I made these for a friend's 18th birthday and everyone who tried it loved it! The icing takes center stage in this cupcake, so the cake has to give way. But it's a trade-off worth making, because the icing is just delicious!!! A subtle trace of vodka balanced by the richness of butter and sugar...ahh, I licked every scrap of icing from the bowl - and I normally don't fancy icing.

What you will need:
(makes 7-8 cupcakes)

one and one-third cups of all-purpose flour
a quarter teaspoon of baking powder
an eighth teaspoon of baking soda
a quarter cup of salted butter, melted
half a cup of white sugar
a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt
a third of a cup of milk
two egg whites
two teaspoons of vanilla extract

an eight cup of salted butter
a cup of icing/confectioner's sugar
a quarter cup of white chocolate chips, melted
a quarter cup of vodka (I use Absolut)
half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat your oven to 176 degrees Celsius.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in the microwave and transfer into a large bowl.

4. Add in the sugar and combine the mixture. It should be gritty.

5. Whisk in the yoghurt, milk and vanilla until combined.

6. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients (the flour mixture) into this large bowl until no more lumps remain. The batter will be thick- try not to over-mix!

7. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy.

8. Fold in the egg whites to the batter. The batter should be smooth and thick.

9. Divide the batter among your cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes. They will not rise as much so it is safe to fill the liners up till about three-quarter way up.

You may prepare the icing while the cupcakes are baking.

Combine all ingredients together and beat until smooth. It's that easy!

Cupcakes will keep well at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about 3 days, and can be frozen for 2-3 months.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Just look at that sort-of-melted chocolate bleeding through aaahhhh these were really sinful- a dense body with a crackly top, each bite being a guilty pleasure. I made these for a friend's birthday, and had leftovers to share among the band kids and they really loved it!

Sidetracking a bit here but there really is nothing more satisfying than having people enjoy you baking hehe :-)

Back to the recipe.

I used salted butter instead of unsalted, so with the addition of salt, the blondies were a tad bit too salty (thankfully not overbearingly so). So if you use salted butter like I did, I think it's safe to cut back on the amount of salt used to mix with the flour later on.

What you need:
(makes an 8x8-baking-pan-worth of blondies)

a cup of unsalted butter
two cups of all-purpose flour
a teaspoon of salt
two eggs
four teaspoons of vanilla extract
one and three-quarter cup of brown sugar
a cup of dark chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat your oven to 176 degrees Celsius and line your baking pan with parchment/aluminium foil/grease.

2. In a medium bowl, add flour and salt together and combine. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, beat eggs and vanilla together. Set aside.

4. In a saucepan, melt the butter while swirling a few times. It will foam and splatter, and start to smell a bit nutty. After the sizzling dies down, pour the melted butter into a large bowl and leave to cool for five minutes.

5. Pour in the egg/vanilla mixture into the large bowl and combine.

6. Add in the flour/salt mixture and combine until just a few pockets of flour are left.

7. Pour in the chocolate chips and mix into the batter. Be careful not to over-mix it!

8. Spoon the batter into your prepared baking pan, and bake for about 30 minutes. The toothpick test would not work for this because it'll always come out clean. Instead, you can judge the done-ness by the cracking of the top :-)

9. Leave to cool completely before removing from the pan. Slice the blondies into your desired portions and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or freeze it for a few months.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweet Potato Crumble

Sweet potato crumble. I don't know whether to classify this as sweet or savoury, indulgence or health-food, you get what I mean. It's a contradiction of sorts, and my tastebuds don't quite know how to react. It's okay, such are the "little things in life that don't matter". What matters is sweet potato. And crumble, of course.

The filling was soft and rather paste-y, reminding me of one of my favourite Teochew desserts, yam paste! Yet, they hold up well on their own, so again, I don't know how to classify them.

What you will need:
(makes one loaf pan-sized crumble)

(Crumble topping)
half a cup of brown sugar
half a cup of butter
a cup of all-purpose flour

4 medium-sized Japanese sweet potatoes
three eggs
a quarter-cup of sugar (you may add more, depending on your preference on sweetness!)
a quarter-cup of butter, softened
half a cup of milk
a teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat your oven to 176 degrees Celsius.

2. Boil the sweet potatoes until it can be easily stabbed with a fork. Take them out and let them cool for a while.

3. Mix the brown sugar and butter for the crumble until combined, then mix in the flour. Use a fork to mix until the mixture becomes crumbly. Set aside.

4. To prepare the filling, beat the eggs and butter till combined. It's all right if lumps of butter remain.

5. Stir in the sugar, milk and vanilla extract and combine.

6. Pinch the skin off your sweet potatoes and mash with a fork.

7. Combine sweet potato mash to the filling mixture and mix till smooth.

8. Pour the filling "batter" into a greased loaf pan, then generously spread crumble on top.

9. Bake for 35 minutes. The filling will remain somewhat soft and squidgey but that's normal :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

These are my favourite blueberry muffins ever.
'nuff said.

My blueberries sank in the batter while baking, though, making them rather unstable at the base. A friend advised me to roll the blueberries in flour before folding them in, so I'll try that next time! Meanwhile...I'm passing the tip on to you guys as well!

What you will need:
(makes 6 big muffins)

half a cup of brown sugar
a teaspoon of cinnamon

half a cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
half a cup of white sugar
a quarter-cup of brown sugar
two large eggs, at room temperature
half a cup of Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
one and three-quarter cups of all-purpose flour
a teaspoon of baking soda
a teaspoon of baking powder
half a teaspoon of salt
a quarter-cup of milk
as many blueberries as you'd like (frozen berries bleed beautifully)
Preheat oven to 228°C. Grease your muffin pan with butter or line with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.

2. Add both white and brown sugars and continue beating until creamed.

3. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is combined and has a homogenous texture.

4. In a large bowl, toss together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix.

6. Add the milk, gently mixing until combined. It's all right if little lumps remain in the batter!

7. Roll the blueberries in flour (so they don't sink), then fold into the batter.

8. Layer in a tablespoon of batter, then top with a little streusel, then more batter until the muffin tins/liners are full all the way up to the top. You want them overflowing. Top with more streusel.

9. Bake in batches for 5 minutes at 220°C, then lower the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for about 20 more minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to briefly cool before serving.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Band Camp 2015

Band camp was on the last day of school and ended the next afternoon! A bit short but I think we all had a lot of fun. :-)

I found myself in the Band Camp planning committee and was mostly in-charge of the night games, so I'm really glad it went well!!! There was so much potential for it to flop, because a lot of it was dependent on people's excitement/enthusiasm haha so whew thankfully everyone was sporting and it was a lot of fun. You can watch the skits here!:

Seaweed (Huiru, Daryl, Esther Foo, Nien Ting, Talia, Suppanat and Jia Qi)
I Know You're Awake (Nicholas, Priya, Shi Wei, Feng Yi, Weicong, Jing Long and Esther Lee)
Call Me Papa (Wei Ze, Qing Kai, Khiam Wee, Brandon, Bruce, Clarissa and Nadirah)
Wristband (Damien, Mu Yu, Saga, Nicole, Sherilyn, Yu Chern and Xian Wei)
All I saw was Red (Darren, Jamie, Clara, Li Xing, Evangeline, Zhang Zhuang and Lu Yuan)

Lights-out was at 11.30pm, but it really was more of an "arbitrary number" haha! We had EXCO meeting till 11.26pm anyway. After the meeting, I suddenly felt super drained and tired but thankfully bathing helped to energise me a bit and powered me through all the way till 4am, haha!

We were segregated in batches at first, but somehow everyone (who weren't sleeping) ended up at the locker tables playing bridge in our little circles - it was kind of like a gambling den, without the gambling of course. Was pretty fun but we got chased to our rooms at 1.30am. WFKW sort of made plans to wake up at 6am to go swimming...LOL but we all slept through our alarms so that didn't quite materialise...which could have been a good thing I suppose. Anyway, 1.30am was a bit early so Nic, Daryl, Neimad, Xiao Feng, Chow and I wandered around school a bit, trying to find a nice corner to lepak in. We ended up climbing to the roof on the 6th floor and scared the daylights out of the Chorale kids who thought we were their teacher-IC doing a spot-check haha! I bumped into Denise and we were wearing matching shirts!!! Quite cute.

We lay on the hard, concrete ground with soft music (think Ed Sheeran) ((!!!)) nestling our fragmented yet honest conversation about really anything that came to our minds... You could also see the darkness of the sky as well as the tiny glistening stars. It was all really beautiful and I had a nice time :-)

When Chow and I got back to our room (we were roomies!!! lol the perks of doing room groupings heh heh), we found Evan and Priya taking selfies with sleeping Shi Wei and Esther LOL so of course we spent the next hour taking more embarrassing photos before binging on this honeyed biscuit thing Evan got from the States (so! good!!!) and going to sleep at 4.06am (I checked) :-)

The next morning was pretty much just the Running Man game (which we planned for Farewell last year but never got around to actually playing it LOL) and general ~bonding~ time! After it all, I was mad tired and just wanted to go home and sleep LOL. Unfortunately, I still had the SNYO Promotion Assessment in the afternoon so I had to go home to freshen up and couldn't join the rest for lunch :(

Quite an anti-climaxed end but it's been a week and the memory is getting a little fuzzy - I'm just trying to record down the scraps I do remember and want to remember in future hehe (-:

Aiseh Band Camp Overall I/C Zheng

Fun part of being Game Master is getting people to do forfeits but the bad part is thinking of fun forfeits and having to demonstrate them endlessly because some people "didn't catch that"...HAHA this was the monkey walk :-)

or orang utans, rather

(I really like this photo!!!)
Zhang Zhuang is actually a really good voice-er!!! I wouldn't have expected it of him haha, it was super entertaining and surprising for me watching his performance!!!

and Darren being...stellar as usual

"Call me p-p-p-papa"

Jia Qi and Suppanat the womanisers LOL check out that oh-so-casually unbuttoned shirt

he's actually holding a Hello Kitty baby spoon haha which is what makes this really funny

o dear

batch!!! (minus Andrew who wasn't here for camp :()

EXCO meeting where we sat in a cult-like circle and got scared by Nicholas' "ghost" stories

"pull your pants all the way up!!!"

no we did not plan this...okay fine we did :(

Jamie explaining Running Man ft. GORGEOUS DAYLIGHT

they wore the socks on their feet, that's cheating :(

loser kwok trying to kick me

my group with our 6 socks but 8947592878 lives HAHA

then Pong suddenly appeared!!! hahaha he came to school to study and walked by the Raja field. I got so excited when I saw him (I'm sure I wasn't the only one heh heh) because, well, how timely, no??? Pong showing up during *band* camp??? Haha oh well, anyway he helped us take a few band photos (thank you!!!) and we also got a Fireberd photo (^) WEW

I miss the old days :'-) when it was just the six of us

backstory: Daryl and I were lifting Wei Ze, and the Cat High guys standing behind (Yu Chern? Jia Qi?) slapped his butt HAHAHA zoom in on his face, you will NOT regret it

almost as if on cue, everyone started posing for/requesting for section photos haha


papa kwok n children

bass section


(LOVE this shot but Shi Wei is not in the frame?!??! sian)

yes we were about to fall

band camp committee ("guys let's make a tent!")

it's been a year!!! wow!!!

Cat High

Afterward, we had general ~lepak time~ and somehow we ended up trying to do the pile-up plank a.k.a. taupok for fit people HAHA IT WAS FUN