Living Kawaii…(Part 1)

“Kawaii” (kah-wah-ee) is a Japanese term that can be loosely translated to “cute” or “adorable”.  As a child, I was such a big fan of characters like Hello Kitty, My Little Twin Stars, Kero Keroppi, and the likes, that my sister and I would “trade” stickers, stationery and other trinkets that we’ve collected using our “lunch” money.   When Hubby, Sister Bear and I finally got to visit Japan a few years back, it was so surprising and refreshing to see how this lifestyle was present almost everywhere in Japan!  It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a large cartoon-like character in the middle of a sidewalk even in the business district.

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So, when given a chance to create (a.k.a play around with) similarly adorable characters, I was definitely excited to get started! 🙂  Japanese character based pop culture has spread world-wide and has become popular even here in the US.  Can you guess what characters these were based from?

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Anyways, there are more characters to come and I’m very excited to share the final product with you…so if you like Kawaii…or for those that LIVE a Kawaii lifestyle…stay tuned!

And in case you’re wondering, of course they are going to be edible and used on something baked! I mean what better way to enjoy them, right? 🙂

Til next time…

~CW

 

Chocolate for Two on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air…Especially when your cooking something yummy for the one you love. Yeah, I know…I’m a day late for Valentine’s Day…well, so what? I think everyday should be Valentine’s Day anyway! Don’t you agree? 🙂

So for my love…well actually for my loves (yup that includes our munchkins), I’ve decided to revisit our mug cake cookbook.  I found one recipe that I thought was perfect for Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Fondant Mug Cake with raspberries.  I made the mug cakes as described on the cookbook with a few tweaks. Instead of just raspberries, I also added some blueberries.  Why? Because I love blueberries and I thought it would add more flavor to the cakes.  Also, instead of using a meringue, I decided to use white chocolate instead because what is Valentine’s Day without chocolate?

Here’s what you’ll need per mug of cake:

  • 1/3 oz of butter (melted)
  • 4 tbsp of powdered (caster) sugar
  • 3 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • Berries (handful)
  • white chocolate (garnish)

Ingredients

  1. Melt the butter on a microwavable container for 10 secs. and transfer into your mug.
  2. In the mug, beat together egg, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa adding each ingredient one at a time.Chocolate cake
  3. Microwave for 1 minute. And allow to cool. If your mug is too big, you can scrape the side of the cake, turn upside down and transfer to a smaller container.

For the garnish:

  1. Melt some white chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler. Check the package instructions for melting as you do not want to burn your chocolate.
  2. When melted, spread a thin later on some wax paper and cool to slightly harden.
  3. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the desired shape (I used a heart cookie cutter for this occasion).
  4. If you want to add color to your chocolate add a drop or two of GEL food coloring. DO NOT USE water-based food color as this will cause your chocolate to “seize”.Chocolate Hearts
  5. Sprinkle the top of cake with a little powdered sugar.  Add your berries and garnish with your chocolate.

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Sweet and sexy… am I right??? 🙂

Our take on the final cake:

The cake was very rich and decadent with the texture very similar to a brownie.  I suggest to be very generous on the berries to get a good balance of the sweetness from the chocolate cake and the tartness from the berries.  If your loved one is not a big fan of fruits (too healthy???:p) then adding a scoop of strawberry ice cream would also be a perfect garnish.  If your special someone loves coffee, you can reduce some of the powdered cocoa and replace with a teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso. Whichever flavor you choose to go with, do not forget to serve with a large heaping of LOVE…that after all… makes all the difference.

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, spent with those that you truly love, may it be your significant other, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your friends, or even your pets…make sure to find that special someone to share this dessert with 🙂

Til next adventure…

~CW

 

Related literature:

Knudsen, L. (n.d). Mug Cakes: Soft melting cakes ready in 5 minutes. Hardie Grant Books. Melbourne, London.

 

Ube (Purple Yam) Cake Roll

It was my nephew’s 26th birthday last Saturday and he requested an ube cake for his birthday.  In the past, I’ve always opted for a “surprise” cake (whether made or bought).   Ha! the surprise was on me last year because I picked a mint and chip ice cream cake which I assumed he would like because our kids love them and Murphy’s Law, I picked the one flavor that he actually hated :p…So since then, I decided to ask people to give me a few options or tell me their ultimate favorite.

For those of you who are not familiar with ube,  it’s a sweet jam made from grated purple yam.  This can be made from scratch or bought from Asian stores.  I would suggest that if you have the time to do it, you should make it from scratch so that you can adjust the sweetness and texture to your liking.  But, in a pinch, the store bought jams will do.

To make the sponge cake, separate the egg white and yoke from 4 large eggs.  Beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy then add 1 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar and 1/2 c of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

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On another bowl, mix the egg yolks with 1/4 c vegetable oil, 1/4 c milk and 1/4 c of ube jam.  You can also add a drop or two of purple food coloring if you wish to make a bolder colored cake.

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Prepare the dry ingredients by combining 1 c cake flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt. Mix with the egg yolk mixture to create the batter.

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Slowly fold in the egg white mixture into the batter.  I usually add a small portion of the egg white foam into the batter first to mix completely, then fold in the remaining egg white slowly.

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Pour into a jelly roll pan (or a pan about 11 in. x 15 in.) lined with parchment paper and smooth the top either by gently shaking the pan or using a spatula. Bake at 350F for 20-25 min. until the top slightly bounces back up when slightly pressed.

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While the cake is in the oven, cut a parchment paper larger than the size of your cake and dust with powdered sugar to keep the cake from sticking to it.

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Once you remove the cake from the oven, immediately flip the pan on top of your  sugar-coated parchment paper.  Remove the paper backing from the cake, and while still hot, roll the cake with the larger parchment paper (just like rolling sushi :)). You can either do it vertically or horizontally depending on the size of cake you wish to make.  Let it cool down on its rolled position.

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(Sorry for the blurry pics, my daughter and I were trying to take the pictures quickly as I was rolling the cake…which was still very hot!)

Once completely cooled, you can unroll the cake and put in your desired filling.  For this cake, we used more ube jam and sweet coconut strings as our filling. After adding the filling, you can re-roll the cake (without the parchment paper) and it would hold its shape.  Finish by frosting as desired.

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If you are familiar with this flavor, I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think.  If this is a completely “foreign” flavor to you, I hope you’d let your adventurous self give it a shot 🙂 You never know…it might be your next new favorite cake 🙂

Enjoy! and til next adventure….

~CW

 

 

Feeling a bit under the weather….

Here in “sunny” California, we had a very dry spell and everyone was worried about the drought and a possibility of water shortage. Then lo and behold! El Niño came to our rescue and we’ve now had our share of rainy days…. Unfortunately, along with the rain and this gloomy weather comes the sniffling and coughing in 90% of the populace of families with school-age children.  And sadly, that did not skip our household this year. Yup, first Baby Bear got sick, then Mama Bear, then Sister Bear…Will Papa Bear miss it? Only time will tell.

So in this yuck, I think about better and sunnier days, and our trip to Hawaii came to mind. Frolicking at the beach….

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Hiking through the forest…

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Soaking up the sunshine….

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Ahhhh summer…seems like it’ll never come again.

Or perhaps, I am feeling just a bit nostalgic. I should confess, our daughter left for Science Camp this week, longest time she’s ever been away from home. Even with our son at home, with no Sister Bear to torment, the house seems quieter than usual ;p

Anyway, this weekend, we will be celebrating my nephew’s birthday and semi-hosting a Super Bowl party…Guess who’s baking the cake?  ME! YAY! Ah the thought of cake makes me happy 🙂

Til next adventure…

~CW

P.S. I would love to hear your “best summer” stories….