Recipe: Quadruple Layered Dark Chocolate Cake

~ This is Day 250 ~

This cake is a mashup of this and my signature triple layered dark chocolate tart. I didn’t want to make a tart and I wasn’t entirely happy with the last two layers of the cake that I made in August so I made this instead: a cake-y bottom, ganache, mousse, then a velvety glaze!

Makes an 8-inch square or round cake.

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line your 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Grease it with either butter or Pam spray, then dust with cocoa powder. 

In a bain marie (which is a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), place the chopped chocolate into the bowl and melt it. Remove from heat and whisk chocolate to completely melt it. Cut the butter into small pieces with a bench scraper and add that into the bowl, along with the sugar, eggs, and sifted flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold and place it in the oven for 20 minutes. The cake should look underdone. Unmold the cake onto a rack and let it cool. Clean and dry the mold, then wrap in plastic. Put the cooled cake in the bottom of the mold.

For the Chocolate Cream

  • 70 g dark chocolate, chopped 
  • 100 g whole milk
  • 100 g heavy cream
  • 50 g egg yolks (around 3)
  • 50 g granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until pale yellow. Off the heat, slowly temper the egg-sugar mixture by pouring the hot milk/cream slowly into the egg/sugar. Then transfer everything back into the pot and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is 180°F, be careful not to overheat or else the egg yolk will curdle. 

Pour one third of the mixture over the chopped chocolate, stirring well. Repeat 2 more times then using an immersion blender, process the mixture thoroughly. Pour the cream over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then in the freezer for another hour.

For the Chocolate Mousse

  • 170 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 80 g whole milk
  • 20 g egg yolk
  • 120 g egg whites
  • 20 g granulated sugar

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then remove from the heat. In a small pot, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the milk over the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is smooth. Lastly, add in the egg yolk and incorporate well.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff with a dash of sugar. Then as the whites begin to stiffen, add the remaining sugar. Incorporate one-third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites. 

Pour the chocolate mousse over the smooth chocolate cream in the mold. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Freeze this for 2 hours.

For the Chocolate Glaze

Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cream and cocoa and simmer for 5 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, bloom the gelatin into a bowl of cold, iced water then squeeze out any excess water when soft.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in the chocolate and bloomed gelatin and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to cool to about 90°F, stirring occasionally.

Remove the cake from the mold and discard the plastic wrap. Put the cake over a rack lined with a sheet tray. Using a small ladle or not, pour the chocolate glaze over the center of the cake and tilt the cake to spread the glaze over the sides. Continue with the rest of the glaze and cover the top and sides of the cake. You can use a small offset spatula too, to evenly coat the sides and edges of the cake. 

Leave to set for a few minutes before transferring to a cake stand or plate. Return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Cut with a knife dipped in hot water for clean lines! Sprinkle flaky sea salt over wedge/slice if you like that! Or whatever you want, in this version, I have some coffee soil over the top.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe: Carrément Chocolat

~ This is Day 167 ~

Although I do not have much of a sweet tooth, I do love desserts that are not sweet. Bittersweet is more my jam. So obviously I love dark, luxurious, luscious chocolate. My go-to chocolate dessert is this triple dark chocolate tart that I’ve made many times, usually during Friendsgiving. But I wanted something different today so I made this: Pierre Hermé’s Carrément Chocolat – a cake entirely made of chocolate, a play on textures and temperatures, between the soft, the smooth, and the crunchy.

However, I don’t have a square cake tin and I messed up on the chocolate sheet step but I love my ending result. I don’t have edible gold leaves but the wedge that I cut myself was very delicious!!

Forewarning: this cake takes a long time because of all the resting but you’ll be very satisfied with all your hard work!

Makes an 8-inch square or round cake.

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter your 8-inch cake pan, sprinkle with cocoa powder.

In a bain marie (which is a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), place the chopped chocolate into the bowl and melt it. Remove from heat and whisk chocolate to completely melt it. Cut the butter into small pieces with a bench scraper and add that into the bowl, along with the sugar, eggs, and sifted flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold and place it in the oven for 20 minutes. The cake should look underdone. Unmold the cake onto a rack and let it cool. Clean and dry the mold, then wrap in plastic wrap. Put the cooled cake in the bottom of the mold.

For the Chocolate Cream

  • 70 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 g whole milk
  • 100 g heavy cream
  • 50 g egg yolks (around 3)
  • 50 g granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until pale yellow. Off the heat, slowly temper the egg-sugar mixture by pouring the hot milk/cream slowly into the egg/sugar. Then transfer everything back into the pot and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is 185°F, be careful not to overheat or else the egg yolk will curdle.

Pour one third of the mixture over the chopped chocolate, stirring well. Repeat 2 more times then using an immersion blender, process the mixture thoroughly. Pour the cream over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then in the freezer for another hour.

For the Chocolate Mousse

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then remove from the heat. In a small pot, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the milk over the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is smooth. Lastly, add in the egg yolk and incorporate well.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff with a dash of sugar. Then as the whites begin to stiffen, add the remaining sugar. Incorporate one-third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Pour the chocolate mousse over the smooth chocolate cream in the mold. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Freeze this for 2 hours.

For the Thin Chocolate Sheet (or Crisps)

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then remove from the heat. Let the bowl cool at room temperature until the mixture reaches a temperature between 88°F and 90°F. Pour the chocolate over a sheet of wax/parchment paper and spread it out. Before it can set, cut out a square (or circle) of the same size as the cake pan. Place another wax/parchment paper on top and add weights to prevent the chocolate from warping as it dries. Refrigerate this while you move onto the next step.

For the Chocolate Sauce

Place everything into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the sauce is thick enough a coat the backend of a spoon, nappant. Set aside.

For the Chocolate Glaze

  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 80 g heavy cream
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g chocolate sauce (from above)

In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a boil and remove from heat. Slowly beat in the chocolate. Set aside to cool until 140°F before adding the butter. Once that is fully incorporated, add in the chocolate sauce and whisk completely.

To Finish

  • Maldon salt (optional)

Remove the cake from the mold and discard the plastic wrap. Put the cake over a rack lined with a sheet tray. Using a small ladle, pour the chocolate glaze over the center of the cake and tilt the cake to spread the glaze over the sides. Continue with the rest of the glaze and cover the top and sides of the cake. Using a small offset spatula, evenly coat the sides and edges of the cake.

Leave to set for a few minutes before transferring to a cake stand or plate. Remove the papers from the thin sheet of chocolate and place it on the cake. If you messed up like I did, crumple them into little chips and spread that over the top of the cake!

Set the cake in the refrigerator to defrost for 2 hours before eating. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water for clean lines! Sprinkle flaky sea salt over wedge/slice if you like that!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe: Black Forest Cake

~ This is Day 165 ~

(Sorry, no pics yet. It’ll have to wait until I get another cake craving.)

My favorite cake growing up was Black Forest. I remember it fondly. My mother would buy it from a Japanese bakery when we were living in Hong Kong. I’ve had some American variations with the sickeningly sweet maraschino cherries, and those made me sick. I hated eating those artificial flavored cherries.

This recipe, just like the ones that I used to eat from the Japanese bakery, uses fresh cherries! Not only are the cherries naturally sweet, the cake and whipped cream are not overly sweet. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but when I do eat dessert, I like them very low in sugar and on the bitter or savory side of things.

Makes an 8-inch, 4 layered cake.

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 8-inch round baking pans lined with parchment paper.

Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir on low to combine. In a bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients. When adding the hot water, pour in slowly so you don’t cook the eggs. Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the stand mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. The batter will look very thin, this is normal.

Pour evenly into the pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure perfection. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cherry Liqueur Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup cherry liqueur 

Place sugar and water into a pot to make simple syrup. Bring to a boil, simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat. Stir in the cherry liqueur and allow to cool completely.

For the Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy cream, cold
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted 

Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar in a cold stand mixer bowl until stiff peaks. Place into a pastry bag with a star tip.

Or if you have an iSi gun (pint size :: quart size), put everything in there with 2 NO2 chargers. You’ll need to split the recipe in half for the pint iSi.

For the Chocolate Bark

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 20-second bursts. Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate into a thin layer on a large sheet of parchment paper. Roll up the paper from the width side and then place it into the freezer until firm. Unroll to create chocolate bark.

To Assemble

  • 3 cups cherries pitted, cut in half
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, for shavings (optional)
  • Cherries with stems, for garnish 

Cut each cake later in half horizontally. Place one layer of the cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush generously with the cherry simple syrup. Top with approximately 1 cup of whipped cream and spread evenly with the offset spatula. Top with 1 cup of pitted cherries and gently press them into the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and frost the outside of the cake. Decorate with chocolate bark, chocolate shavings (using a vegetable peeler), rosettes, and whole cherries!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe: Zabb Fried Chicken

~ This is Day 67 ~

Before you do anything, go here to Fish Cheeks‘ website and buy their zabb seasoning because this recipe won’t work without it!

My favorite number 3 dish at Fish Cheeks is their zabb fried chicken wings! Zabb is a spice seasoning consisting of chili, lemongrass, makrut lime, salt, and sugar. Their wings are so incredibly scrumptious! Finger-licking, smackingly good!!!!

About two years ago, I have been conducting trials at home to recreate their zabb seasoning but was unsuccessful. Thanks to Chef Ohm for recently selling the seasoning now!!! Now that I know what exactly is inside, I’m still going to try and make it at home from scratch. I was only missing the lemongrass and makrut lime flavors.

Anyway, I live outside of their delivery zone and it’s been really rough looking at their gorgeous food on social media everyday during quarantine, so I finally got their seasoning and made fried chicken at home. Not exactly how they make it at the restaurant, I made drumsticks like how Korean fried chicken is made and tossed it with their zabb seasoning! For fried chicken, I prefer drumsticks over wings!

For the Marinade:

  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • Splash of Chinese rice wine/white wine/vodka/booze
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Cut slits on the drumsticks to maximize flavor absorption. Season chicken drumsticks generously with kosher salt, then marinate drumsticks with spices and flavorings in a shallow bowl or dish for 30 minutes in room temperature before frying.

For the Flour Mix:

  • AP flour
  • Cornstarch/Potato starch
  • Salt

I mix equal parts flour to starch and season it a little with salt.

For Deep Frying:

  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • Thermometer

Take marinaded drumsticks and toss in flour mix, make sure to pat flour mix into and onto drumsticks. I like to shake them in a ziplock bag to fully coat the chicken. Place coated chicken on a wire rack and heat up oil.

Fry the chicken twice, once at 300°F, and the second time at 400°F. Internal temperature of chicken should be at least 165°F. After the second frying, while the chicken is resting on a clean wire rack, find your largest bowl and toss chicken generously with the zabb seasoning!

Recipe: Thin Crust Pan Pizza

~ This is Day 30 ~

I haven’t owned a conventional oven since I moved into my current apartment, which was 5.5 years ago. Not a huge difference for my cooking needs but it would be nice to have one. I just have a large toaster oven, which can fit quite a lot of large poultry, but a regular sized pizza pan/stone it cannot. So I always make thin crust pan pizzas and broil them in my toaster oven with the door ajar because my pan doesn’t fit all the way in either.

*Side note, I’ve had my eyes on June ever since it came out… (it would be a great housewarming present) just saying!*

The pizza dough that I make is really easy – almost no knead and all you do is wait. I always make the same pizza at home because I just love the following set: spicy tomato sauce (with the addition of red pepper flakes), ham, bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella. I’ll sometimes add some baby spinach in there if I have some. If I run out of ham, I’ll substitute shrimp. And YES, I am part of that group who LOVES pineapple on their pizzas!

Makes 4-5 personal sized pizzas.

  • 1 cup water, lukewarm
  • ¼ oz. yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2¼ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

Don’t have bread flour? AP flour is fine.

Pour 1 cup of lukewarm water into a medium sized bowl. Add in the yeast and sugar, and stir. Sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Add in the EVOO and salt, then slowly add in the flour and mix (with chopsticks or wooden spoon) until water is fully incorporated. Dough will be dry; once there is no more water, knead until smooth (only a few minutes). 

In the same bowl, Pam spray/oil it, leave it covered for 45 minutes in a warm place. Punch the dough down and continue letting it rest for another 30 minutes. 

Divide into 4-5 portions and roll. Allow to rest for 15 minutes if you have trouble rolling it.

You can store the remaining portions/dough in the fridge for up to 1 week, keeping it covered and greased in the same bowl. Temper it out before you roll it.

Some tips:

  • I poke holes in the dough after I roll it to prevent bubbles of air to form when cooking.
  • I first cook the base in the pan by itself on medium heat, just to get some color on the bottom and then flip it to get the base of the pizza somewhat cooked before adding your sauces and toppings.
  • Layer/scatter your toppings, try to squeeze out as much moisture/water as possible.
  • Put a lid on your pizza in the pan while cooking.
  • I usually cook the toppings for 5+ minutes, then add the cheese, and cook for another 5+ minutes.
  • Before broiling it in the oven to get some color and to fully melt the cheese, I tilt the pan to remove excess moisture that got released from cooking. You don’t want your base to be soggy.

Quarantine Day 12

Today is my twelfth day of self-isolation, living in NYC in this epi-center of the novel coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. The United States has now surpassed both China and Italy on total confirmed cases. Besides leaving my apartment for two separate grocery runs, I have not left my apartment since Wednesday March 18. The common roof deck in my apartment building is locked between the months of October through April, so I’ve been cooped up in my shoebox apartment this whole time.

There are some days where I do absolutely nothing, where I spend almost my entire day in bed, sleeping and napping, and doing whatever on my laptop, either watching TV/movies or reading random things. Then the other days consist of a semi-permanent routine, where I wake up between 7-8am (no alarms set) and I do 30 minutes of yoga, focusing on breathing and stretching, then I workout for 30-60 minutes, using all my home equipment (which isn’t much), but I follow live in-home exercise videos on Instagram, cook + eat + clear lunch, nap after lunch, clean a specific and different area of my apartment, cook + eat + clear dinner, and find tasks within my apartment that needs up keeping before making my way to bed.

Then repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. My mental-health is still intact but there are times where I feel the insanity seeping in. There is only so much you can do at home. Thank goodness for technology, i.e. FaceTiming with family and friends. I haven’t downloaded Zoom yet though. With limited resources and ingredients, I have discovered that I loathe cooking for myself now. Why do I have to eat?? Thinking about what to eat for my next meal immediately makes me frustrated. I am so sick of eating steamed rice and pasta so I have started making Chinese staples from scratch. It’s been fun but the excitement of making them was short-lived because it ended up being another bothersome chore that I had to do everyday in order to feed myself.

Another self-discovery is that I think I am over drinking! The desire for a glass of sparkling or cocktail is no more.

There’s a lot of articles out there predicting how this will end. I hope the warmer weather will contain the spread of the virus. I hope one day soon I can meet up with my best friends and brother and rediscover what it means to socialize again.

Recipe: Gougères

Gougères are essentially cream puffs without the cream and instead with cheese. They are the savory version of the pâte à choux. The cheese is commonly grated Gruyère, Comté, or Emmentaler. I used Gruyère in this.

In culinary school, I had to mix this by hand and that was exhausting. I have a stand mixer at home so making the choux was a piece of cake!

This recipe yields around 50 pieces.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz. butter
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups Gruyère, and extra for garnishing
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with SilPats or parchment paper, oiling them is not necessary. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Stir over low heat until the dough dries out and pulls away from the pan, approximately 2 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a bowl of a stand mixer. Let it cool for a few minutes before beating in the eggs. On “stir”, using the paddle attachment, beat the eggs into the dough, one at a time, and beating thoroughly between each one. It is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely. Add the cheese and season with black pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets. Sprinkle more cheese on top of each one and bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot/warm. I stuff them with duxelles, which is a finely chopped mixture of mushroom (chanterelles).