French Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

We had a layover at Changi Airport in Singapore during a recent trip to Manila. I know I should not miss the opportunity to visit their TWG Tea Boutique in the few hours we are there. TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group, a well-known Singaporean luxury tea house chain. I bought several kinds of tea, and while browsing, the box of Earl Grey Shortbread cookies caught my daughter’s eye. We knew we had to get it since my girls love Earl Grey Tea. I just regret not getting more than one box.

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Since I bought a tin of French Earl Grey from them, I just thought of making our shortbread cookies.

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This recipe was from the Foodnetwork website by Claire Robinson. I followed the recipe, except I didn’t use a food processor. I just used a pastry cutter to blend in all the ingredients. This seems to be the easiest recipe for shortbread, but next time, I’ll make one wherein you roll the dough and use a cookie cutter to get even and uniform circles.

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Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

One thing I share with my dad is my love for peanut butter. The first brand of peanut butter I was introduced to was Lily’s peanut butter slathered in pandesal. I believe most Filipino children in the 70s are familiar with and grew up with this brand. Later on, we would always buy a jar of Jiff or Skippy whichever is available from Rustan’s or Landmark every time we would go grocery shopping.

I had my first taste of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich from Oliver’s Super Sandwiches the HK franchise sandwich shop in Glorietta that opened in the 90s. One time my dad handed me a brown bag from the store when he picked me up from work. He knew I would be hungry as we almost always hit traffic along South Expressway on the way home. He said he chose it since he knows how much I love peanut butter. I still do, and I sometimes eat a slice of bread with peanut butter for dessert.

This blog is dedicated to my dad who is no longer with us. Every time I eat this I am reminded of him and all the memories we have sharing the love for this food.

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To make, get 2 slices of bread (I used oat but you can use whatever you prefer). Slather one side with peanut butter, then layer it with banana slices. Place the other piece of bread on top.

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Get a skillet and place over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and carefully place your sandwich and cook until browned and a bit crisp. Then flip and continue to cook until brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and slice in half. Serve with a cold glass of milk.

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Ube Braided Bread

I have a jar of Ube Spread I got at Trader Joe’s a month ago. I find it too sweet to use as spread for my toast. I was looking for ways to use it up, after watching Youtube videos of Japanese bakery work I was inspired to make this braided bread.

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To make the dough I used this recipe here . I have used this before to make my Korean sausage bread and I really liked it’s texture and taste.

After dough has risen I divided it into 4 equal parts. Rolled it into a rectangular shape and placed a tablespoon of Ube spread on top. Using an angled spatula I spread it evenly on the dough leaving about a half inch border all around. Roll up the dough starting on the longest side, then using a sharp knife, cut the dough log horizontally, leave 1/2 inch of top edge uncut. Then braid and make sure to keep the open layers exposed on top as you do. This will give you the braided effect. Then take both ends and form into a circle tucking ends towards the center to form a knot.

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Place your dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let this rise for another 30 minutes. While waiting preheat your oven to 350F.

When your dough is ready, brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes and until tops are golden brown.

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Dorayaki (Red Bean Pancake)

Dorayaki is a sweet red bean-filled snack sandwiched between 2 small pancakes. It’s a traditional Japanese snack that dates back to the Edo period. I won’t bore you with it’s history and beginnings, but if you want to know more you can read it here.

I made this using the Japanese Morinaga hotcake mix and a can of ogura-an (smashed sweetened red bean). To make prepare the pancakes using the package directions. For tips and how-to, here is the link to the Japanese hotcakes I made in a previous blog post. I made my pancakes much smaller just like making silver dollar pancakes. Give the pancakes enough time to cool.

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Once it’s cool take a pancake and place a scoop of red bean filling cover with another pancake. Make sure that the filling does not spill out too much on the edges. Wrap it with cling wrap to help keep it’s shape. Unwrap before serving.

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Mango Tiramisu

My daughter wanted to make a Mango Icebox cake or what Filipinos refer to as Mango Float. I ask my family back home if they have ever made it. They mentioned that heavy cream, condensed milk, and butter are used to make the cream filling. I find this too rich and sweet for my liking. So I thought of making something similar that will better suit my taste. I could have just used whipped cream and sugar but it seems too light and fluffy. That is when Tiramisu came to mind it has the mouthful I wanted without the extra sweetness or heaviness.

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To make, you will need a pack of Lady Fingers or Savoiardi, 4-5 ripe mangoes, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup mascarpone, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee (I used my nepresso machine to make the espresso) and unsweetened cocoa for dusting. Place your heavy cream in a chilled stainless steel bowl and beat with electric or handheld mixer. Slowly add your sugar and vanilla, continue beating until stiff peaks form. Then add the mascarpone and mix until combined.

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Lightly dip your Savoiardi on both sides in the espresso and line the bottom of your pan with it ( I lined my loaf pan with cling wrap so that I can lift my tiramisu out of the pan, this step is optional). Then spread your cream filling on top of the cookie before layering it with your mango slices. Repeat until you have about 3 layers. Chill in the refrigerator for about 4 hours to overnight.

To serve, lift your Tiramisu out of the pan and remove plastic wrap. Place in a serving dish and dust the top with unsweetened cocoa powder. I added some mango florets before serving.

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Cranberry Scone

Scones is a favorite breakfast treat. It’s one of the things I always grab at coffee shops, since we don’t often have this at home. Though it’s also considered a great mid-afternoon snack , that is why it’s standard fare at high teas.

This bakery treat was baked by my daughter, she chose to make cranberry since we didn’t want an overly sweet scone. She used the King Arthur Flour recipe found online since its very highly rated. In choosing recipes we carefully consider the ingredients used and how it is prepared. This was a very straightforward recipe that even a novice baker can follow.

This was great served warm or even with some butter or jam on the side.

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Harry Potter Birthday Cake

It’s no secret that we are such Harry Potter fans. I have read the book since it’s initial release way back in the late 90’s and have even attended a couple of midnight book release at Barnes and Noble. My girls started reading these in grade school and have read the entire series more than once.

My daughter decided to make a cake to commemorate Harry’s birthday which is the 31st of July. This is a replica of the cake Hagrid baked in the first book “The Sorcerer’s Stone”. We made sure to scour for the best chocolate cake recipe since it’s going to be the base of the cake. We didn’t like it too sweet nor too sticky.

For the chocolate cake, I used this recipe I found online. It makes for a three layer cake but I only made two thick layer ones. You can just make adjustments to the amount of batter you use in your pan if you want to stick to a two layer cake. The excess can be made into cupcakes.

I used this recipe for the chocolate filling and cake frosting. The filling was really great, but I find the frosting too sweet for my liking. Make sure to totally cool your cake before you start decorating or else your frosting will melt and you will end up with puddles on your cake stand.

My daughter really enjoyed piping out the Happy Birthday greeting on top of the cake. It turned out pretty well considering it’s her first time.

The cake turned out great, it gives a perfect slice without crumbs falling all over and remains moist even after refrigeration. This is now our favorite chocolate cake.

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Kori Kohi ala UCC

Kori Kohi literally means Iced Coffee in Japanese. It was my sister who introduced us to this drink back in 2018 when were were vacationing in Manila. It is a coffee drink offered and popularized by UCC Cafe’s (pictured below). UCC (Ueshima Coffee Co) is a Japanese Coffee and Tea manufacturer based in Kobe. They are the very first company who made and invented canned coffee in 1969. They have several cafe locations in Manila and we have been to three them when we were there.

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This coffee creation is frozen coffee cubes served in a tall glass then warm milk is poured over it. As the coffee melts it slowly infuses the milk with it’s flavor. It also tastes much better than Starbucks I must say !

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To make, I used instant coffee powder to make a cup of strong black coffee. Proportions is totally up to you. In our household we use UCC instant coffee but you can use whatever brand you prefer. You can also make it using a coffee machine. However, we ran out of the UCC Instant Coffee so I resorted to using the Nescafe Cafe Viet Instant Coffee which too has a superior flavor and aroma. This is also made specifically for iced coffee. I dissolved 1 packet in about 3/4 cup hot water then let it cool down before pouring in my ice tray. Let this freeze overnight. Then remove the frozen coffee cubes and place in a tall glass and pour your choice of milk. Normally one would pour warm milk over it but we just used cold milk and for me it was so much better. The frozen coffee melts at a much slower rate which allows the milk to be gently infused with flavor making it more creamier and mellower in taste much like latte. An alternative to your regular iced coffee and just perfect for this sweltering hot Summer weather we are having in the Northeast.

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Cinnamon Rolls

Last time I made cinnamon rolls was with my daughter five years ago when she was still in high school. Now I’m thinking why I never made it again. The only reason I’m guessing was not having enough time, since my girls had so many after school activities that I have been running around to.

I made these cinnamon rolls again finally as a Mother’s Day treat. Almost everyone have so much time in their hands these days, so it’s no big deal. I adapted this recipe from this site. It works great for me and I am always pleased with the results. The only thing I didn’t follow was coating the bottom of the pan with butter and sprinkling sugar on it. I didn’t want to make it too gooey and decadent, this is sweet enough for us as it is.

In a bowl place a packet active dry yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water and set aside. In a mixing bowl add the following: 1/2 cup scalded milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 tsp. salt, 1 egg and 2 cups all purpose flour. Mix until smooth. Then add your yeast mixture. Mix an additional 1 1/2 cups flour. You may use up to 4 cups total flour, until dough is easy to handle. Knead for 8-10 minutes until you get a smooth dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it on a lightly floured clean surface into 15 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread 1/2 cup melted butter on dough and then sprinkle a mixture of 3/4 cup brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon. Roll the dough beginning on the 15 inch side then pinch to seal the ends. Using a sharp knife cut into 12 – 15 pieces.

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Place rolls close together on lightly greased pan. Cover with kitchen towel and let it rise again for 40 minutes. Then bake in a 350F preheated even for about 30 minutes or until nicely brown on top.

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While rolls are baking prepare frosting by combining the following: 4 Tbsp. butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 3-6 Tbsp hot water. Mix until smooth then spread over your cooled rolls.

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Nutella Braided Bread

We were craving for something sweet, so I decided to bake something for the family. I really liked how my cinnamon roll turned out last time and thought the dough for that recipe would turn out well for this braided bread. I wasn’t mistaken at all.

To make, place in a bowl 1/2 cup lukewarm water and to it add 1 packet active dry yeast, dissolve and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup scalded milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. salt. Mix until combined. Then add the yeast mixture and 2 cups all purpose flour. Mix in additional 2 cups flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead for 7-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a towel and let rise for 1 1/2 hours until double in size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it into a lightly floured clean surface into 15 x 12 inch rectangle. Then spread about 1/2 cup room temperature Nutella leaving a 1/2 inch border all around the edges. Roll up the dough then using a sharp knife, cut the dough log horizontally, leave 1/2 inch of top edge uncut. Then braid and make sure to keep the open layers exposed on top as you do. This will give you the braided effect.

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Place in a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then brush the dough with an egg wash.

Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

My family loved it straight our of the oven.

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