Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kit Kat Chocolate Cupcakes

Yummy Pioneer Woman Chocolate Cupcake recipe again
Black Kit Kat Cupcakes with  Dark Chocolate Buttercream

Ready for frosting - Cupcakes baked with Kit Kat

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Artisan Boulangerie Co Great World City

Woohoo, the bread lover in me rejoices once again as another lovely French style bakery opens in town. First, there was Maison Keyser, then there was Tiong Bahru Bakery and Sophie Bakery, and now there is Artisan Boulangerie Co. Founder baker Chef Eran Mayer left Paris and arrived in Singapore with a dream to have each Singaporean household have a daily loaf of freshly-baked, preservative-free bread in their house. With many good reviews under its belt within a few weeks of opening, I can't wait to try this new kid on the block!

Arrived at the Great World City branch today with much anticipation and indeed found myself in front of a large array of baked goodies. There were tarts, croissants, brioches, chocolate bakes, many varieties of breads and even pretzels! There were a few samples of bread available and of course, the greedy me tried everything so I could then order something totally different. Ha Ha! The challah ($5.50) was mildly sweet but not as dense as I would like. The muesli bread was really good and while it's not a fluffy bread, the bite and crunch in the bread with all the good-for-your-body seeds and nuts were really addictive. Slightly expensive at $10 for a small loaf though. The olive bread was generously studded with whole olives however, I prefer Sophie's even chewier version. The raisin sourdough was really yummy too, with a good chewy to the crumb and a crunchy crust.

I wanted to order the cheese pretzel as memories of yummy pretzels in Germany still lingers in my mind (& mouth) but alas they ran out of it already. Went for my 2nd choice, their Raisin Vanilla Swirl bread. I think it's a laminated dough, with buttery, flaky turns,  studded with loads of moist raisins. It was served a teeny weeny bit warm; would have been much better if it could be more warmed up more as it was cold by the time I took the 2nd bite. Still, it was a delightful snack and the coffee from Toby Estate totally satisfied my yearning for a good coffee just the day before. Full-bodied, strong aroma and well-roasted comes to mind as I sipped in satisfaction.
In terms of the cafe ambiance, it is a modern, fuss free setting. Clean lines, comfy chairs and a few sofa seats filled the cafe. Service at the counter is fast and polite though not exceedingly warm. (I really like Sophie's staff who are smiling happily and chats with me about their breads all the time). Cleaning of the tables was a tad slow as well with 15 minutes gone and tables still not cleared despite the staff outnumbering the number of patrons on a Tues mid afternoon. Otherwise, nothing to complain about and definitely a place I would repeat if I'm in the area. (My vote still goes to Sophie for their bread though)

On a last note, the plain sourdough was my eventual choice for my take-home purchase as I love the texture of the bread and a plain one would be perfect to soak up a runny poached egg with a home-made lemon honey garlic sauce. Perfect dinner at home!

Artisan Boulangerie Co
#01-01, 118 Killiney Road 
Singapore 239555 
Ph: +65 6444 8130 
Open Daily from 8 am to 10 pm 

#01-23, Great World City 
Singapore 237994 
Ph: +65 6887 4062 
Open Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crispy, Melt-in-your-mouth, Cornflake Cookies

Cornflake cookies seem to typically make only 2 appearances a year -  amongst the stacks of red-top cookie containers during Chinese New Year and in cute little green mini cupcake liners during Hari Raya. Other than these 2 festive seasons, they are rarely if ever seen, at least by me who loves cereal and who loves cookies. Pairing the 2 together in a buttery, melt-in-your mouth cookie dough and baked to a crisp seems a natural option for the rest of the year where you cannot get them anywhere. It's anyway, a really easy, yummy, quick bake. My nieces and nephews' repeated requests for these cookies prove their buttery worth indeed! Best with a cuppa tea too.

Ingredients (Makes around 70 cookies)
227g unsalted butter (softened, remove from fridge and cut into large cubes 20 minutes before using)
170g fine grained sugar
62g egg (1 very large egg or 1.25 small egg)
2 teaspoon vanilla essence 
227g self-raising flour (or 227g plain flour + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1.75 teaspoon baking powder)
56g cornflour
100g cornflakes

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light in colour and creamy in texture. 
2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another minute.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours together. 
4. Add flour to butter-egg mixture and fold in until incorporated. (Do not use mixer to beat it in)
5. Shape into balls and roll in crushed cornflakes
6. Bake in pre-heated oven 190C (Top-bottom mode) or if baking 2 trays at 1 time, use 170C (Top-Bottom Fan mode), for 14 minutes. Turn the pan around at 7 min (half way mark) to ensure even baking. 
7. Remove from oven when top is browned and still slightly soft to the touch. It will become crispy when it cools. 
8. Store immediately in air-tight containers once cookies have cooled. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake in cupcakes again!

Yay my first cupcake bake sale happened! A very nice and trusting friend got me to bake cupcakes for her twins' birthday celebration. Using my go-to chocolate cupcakes recipe now, by the Pioneer Woman, I made chocolate cupcakes, frosted with a choice of peanut butter or chocolate buttercream, topped with a dark chocolate glaze and adorned with a chocolate piece. Yum Yum. 

Recipe can be found at :
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Chocolate Glaze:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Decadent Triple Chocolate - Banana Caramel Fudge Cake

When you combine chocolate and banana, you generally want a sweet and probably dense cake. Something that will melt in your mouth amidst a flurry of flavors, a sweet treat cloaked in decadence, a piece that warrants 20 minutes in the gym. At least, that's what I would love, 2 layers of fat fudgy cake, sandwiched with thick bananas cooked in a caramel sauce, coated with a sinful chocolate buttercream and finally, glazed with coat of dark chocolate sauce. Apparently, my friends love them too!

Chocolate Fudge Cake (2 tall 6 inch layers)
200ml heavy cream
40ml apple cider vinegar
250g cake flour
120g cocoa powder (I used a mix of Valrhona and Lindt)
1 teaspoon (heaped) salt 
1 teaspoon (flat) baking soda
1 teaspoon (flat) baking powder
250g brown sugar
60g unsalted butter, melted and cool 
60g plain thick yogurt
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Oven Temp: 175C.

1. Combine heavy cream and apple cider vinegar and stir together. It will become very creamy. 
2. Combine all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly.
3. Add all liquid ingredients except the eggs and beat at medium speed  until just combined. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes. 
4. Pour into 2 lined 6-inch pans (for tall layers) or 2 lined 8-inch pans (for shorter layers). 
5. Bake for 50 minutes until skewer test shows only a few moist crumbs and no batter on the stick. 
Notes: The batter is in liquid form so wrap the lined baking tins with an exterior layer of aluminium foil to prevent leakage.

Additional note:
1.5x the recipe above to make 2 tall 8-inch layers, bake for 55 to 60min. (More suitable as a birthday cake size)

Sauteed Banana in Caramel sauce
2 large or 3 medium bananas, sliced into thick pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
50g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1. In a large pan, place heavy cream, brown sugar and butter together and melt over medium heat. 
2. Once melted, mix in the vanilla bean paste. 
3. Place sliced bananas into the pan and cook over medium fire. Swirl the pan gently to cook the bananas in the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes, until bananas softened slightly and has absorbed the flavor of the caramel. 
Note: After using the bananas and some of the sauce, there will still be leftover sauce. Cool to room temperature and keep in refrigerator for future use.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
5 large egg whites
250g granulated sugar
340g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or essence
pinch of salt
200g melted and cool dark chocolate

1. Place egg whites and sugar in a clean and dry metal mixer bowl, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
2. Using the whisk attachment of mixer, immediately start whipping until the meringue is thick and glossy. The mixture should be at room temperature by now (It may take around 10 minutes)
3. Switch over to paddle attachment and on low speed, start to add butter cubes gradually, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. Add vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. Continue to beat on low speed until well combined.

Chocolate Glaze 
50g dark chocolate, chopped into pieces (I used 70% cocoa)
100ml heavy cream

Simply melt the dark chocolate and cream together in a bowl set over simmering water. Do not let any water or vapor get into this mixture. Cool slightly to a temperature just warm to the touch and use immediately.  

1. Slice off the top of the cooled cake layers to create a flat top on each. 
2. Place 1 layer (bottom facing down) on a serving plate, arrange cooked sliced bananas on the top, pour some sauce over the bananas and place the 2nd layer of cake (bottom facing up) on top. 
3. Place cake in the fridge to chill for an hour or when the cake is no longer warm with the banana caramel. 
4. Frost cake with buttercream and chill for another hour or when the buttercream is cold and set. 
5. Pour chocolate glaze over the top and nudge the sides to let some sauce flow over the edges. 
Note: Freeze the cake for 15 minutes before pouring the chocolate glaze over. This will prevent the buttercream from melting from the slightly warm glaze. 
6. Place back in fridge. Remove cake from refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before serving as cake will be too dense and heavy if eaten chilled from the fridge directly. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fudgy Egg Yolk Brownie

 Do you make alot of frosting? I do that on quite a few occasions and my to-go recipe is always the Swiss-Meringue Buttercream from Sweetapolita. I use egg whites on a almost weekly basis and end up with plenty of egg yolks in the fridge. Therefore, I'm always scratching my head and googling for egg yolk recipes. There are a number of them online and Food and Family has a good list of egg yolk recipes, ranging from 1 to many many yolks needed. Went through this list many times, many are for sauces, creams, curds, ice creams etc, foods that are not often used in our mainly-Asian cooking households. Tried a couple of the cake recipes, sponge and pound cakes but found them a little dry for my liking.

Today is my brother's birthday. He doesn't want a cake.. that's the usual boy attitude, isn't it? So, I suggested ice cream instead. He wants strawberry but his kids, my nephews, like chocolate. My nieces love brownies. I have 5 egg yolks in the fridge. Brain Wave - googled for "Egg Yolk Brownies". Woo hoo! Found 1 very quickly, that asked for 10 egg yolks. Double yay! Now I know what to make next time when I've plenty of yolks. I've just have to go buy strawberry ice cream later to go with the yummy brownies!

Brownies are typically easy 1 bowl recipes. Easy to make, quick to bake, this recipe is no exception. I halved the recipe, stir everything up and used a loaf pan. My dad and brother also loves Kit Kat so I added a layer of these milk fingers in the middle of the thick batter. Baked them for 30 minutes and they are done in the middle but the top is not too crispy yet. Don't dare to bake it any longer as original recipe calls for 40 minutes in a 8 by 8 inch pan, and the last thing you want is an over-baked and dry brownie. I shall lower the temperature next time so I can bake it longer to achieve a more crisp top.

The bake turned out really wonderfully fudgy, with a almost-black almost-molten center. The top lack the crisp but the flavor of the brownie is great, not very sweet and screams of chocolate. The Kit Kat inside was a tad soggy, and kind of distracts attention from the brownie; will skip that next time.The kids love it though, yay!

Adapted Recipe (Source)
170g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
55ml heavy cream + 35ml  heavy cream
140g brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
95g cake flour

Oven temp 180g

1. Melt dark chocolate and heavy cream together in a medium or large heat-resistant bowl over simmering water, not boiling. (Do not let water get into the chocolate mixture)
2. Stir the sugar in and let it cool to room temperature.
3. Stir in the yolks and vanilla essence, then the last 35ml heavy cream.
4. Fold in the cake flour. (It is a very thick batter)
5. Scoop half the batter into a lined loaf pan (or 8inch square pan if you double above recipe), line a layer of kit kat fingers and spread the remaining batter on top.
6. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the pan half way through the bake. It's done when the test stick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Orange Chocolate Sponge Cake

I've done approximately 3 sponge cakes before and none has so far been very successful, with each in varying stages of dryness and frequently taste very heavily of eggs. I've then bookmarked many sponge cake recipes in search of a soft and moist sponge cake which also rises well. I dare say I seemed to have found it at Daily Delicious

This sponge cake recipe uses a little heavy cream in addition to the usual suspects of eggs, flour and sugar. It's a rather easy - to - make cake which takes only about 15 minutes to mix and maximum 30 minutes to bake. The toughest step is lining the pan! I really dislike the cumbersome actions of cutting little rounds and long strips and pasting them into the pans with a little bit of whichever batter or dough of the day. However, I guess that still beats scrubbing, scrubbing and scrubbing of unlined pans with the leftover crumbs. 

The only change I did was to add the zest of an orange as I think they may help supersede the strong egg-taste of sponge cakes. The resulting bake was a lovely, soft and moist sponge cake with a hint of orange, not egg! Yay, its bouncy and light, I could not stop pinching the cut-away strips as I prepare the cake for the mousse layer. Delightful, and I believe I would be baking this alot for all the durian / yam / mango layered cakes of the future while I start on today's composition of a chocolate orange cake!

Sponge Cake Recipe (Source):
4 Eggs
90g sugar
80g cake flour
pinch of salt
40ml warm whipping cream (microwave high at 20s)
Zest of 1 orange

Oven 180C, 8inch cake pan, lined on bottom. 

1. Sift cake flour and salt together
2. Whisk eggs in a mixer on high speed until it lightens in colour.
3. Add the sugar to the egg mixture and mix on high speed until it reaches the thick ribbon stage (Where the batter will flow from the beater in a thick lava layer)
4. Add the flour into the egg-sugar mix and fold in to just combine. 
5. Take 1/4 of this mixture and stir into the warm whipped cream. 
6. Pour the whipped cream mixture and orange zest into the rest of the batter and fold to combine 
7. Pour into pan, tap on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, when the top is slightly browned and spring back to your touch. Cool completely. 

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
5 large egg whites
250g granulated sugar
340g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or essence
pinch of salt
200g melted and cool dark chocolate

1. Place egg whites and sugar in a clean and dry metal mixer bowl, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
2. Using the whisk attachment of mixer, immediately start whipping until the meringue is thick and glossy. The mixture should be at room temperature by now (It may take around 10 minutes)
3. Switch over to paddle attachment and on low speed, start to add butter cubes gradually, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. Add vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. Continue to beat on low speed until well combined.

Chocolate Mousse Coating (Source)
170g chocolate
85g unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over simmering water. (Do not let any water get into this mixture). Remove chocolate from heat. 
2. Combine egg yolks and sugar in another bowl and set over simmering water. Whisk for around 5 minutes until it turns pale. Remove from heat. 
3. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Add vanilla and mix well. It should be a smooth mixture. If it turns grainy, whisk in a small amount of cream and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. 
4. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Mix 1/4 of the cream into the chocolate-egg mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. 

Assembly of cake:
1. Cut away a slim perimeter of the cake and slice the cake horizontally in half. 
2. Place 1 layer of the cake back into an 8-inch pan and spread the chocolate buttercream in a thick layer.
3. Cover with the 2nd layer of the cake. 
4. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cake until it completely covers the top. 
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set before serving. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough mousse to cover the cake as I cut away too much of the cake perimeter! With insufficient mousse, I tried to use it as a glaze instead, covering up all the edge however, they are too thin a layer and the jagged edges of the cut cake peeked through, resulting in a really bad looking side of the cake. oh well..lesson learned, and my friends love the cake! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Healthy & Yummy, (cream-less) Roasted Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup

Wow! It's my first time making pumpkin soup and I must say while it's not too difficult, it's pretty time consuming. However, the resulting soup dish is very well-worth the time and effort! It's smooth, it's thick, it's roasted aroma shone through and just a teeny weeny bit of honey enhanced the flavor even more. It's wow wow wow, I cannot stop slurping this soup. Much thanks to "Grab Your Spork" for sharing this wonderful recipe so I may further spread the goodwill and may more people benefit from this very healthy yet robust soup!

I used chicken stock but to make it vegan, just use vegetarian stock instead.

1.5kg pumpkin (cored but skin on)
0.5kg sweet potato (skin on)
2 bulbs of garlic
1 large onion
1.5L of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of honey
Olive Oil and Salt to taste
Yogurt or cream to serve

1. Pre-heat oven to 220C.
2. Wash and cut pumpkin and sweet potato into pieces. Skin the onions and 1 bulb of garlic.
3. Place pumpkin, sweet potato, onion sliced in half and 1 bulb of garlic with skin removed, on a pan, skin side down (for the roots) and drizzle olive oil and sprinkle fine seasalt all over.
4. Roast until they are soft and slightly brown on top, around 30 minutes for me. It depends on how big the roots are cut. Once done, remove from oven and remove the skins from the roots and mash them up.
5. Heat a large pot with a tablespoon of olive oil.
6. Sauteed the remaining garlic (skin removed) in the olive oil.
7. Once the garlic are slightly brown, add the mashed pumpkin, sweet potato, roasted onion and garlic into the pot.
8. Stir them together quickly as it may burn on the bottom.
9. Add half the chicken stock, and turn off the heat. Blend the soup, it will seem like a puree at this point.
10. Continue adding the stock and stir them into the puree until your desired consistency.
11. Add the honey, some black pepper and stir in. Turn on the heat again and bring to a boil.

Serve with either a teaspoon of cream or smooth watery plain yogurt. Garnish with coriander for an extra fragrance!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting (SMB)

What are cupcakes if they are not frosted right? Much as frosting are dollops of butter (screams F-A-T!), sugar (goes straight to the thighs!) and sometimes flavoring (chemicals!), cupcakes are so much more adorable and eye-pleasing with these colourful and creative little pipings. 

I'm still learning to make frosting look good, check out the leaning tower of buttercream below! Thankfully, managed to pipe a round of my latest to-go chocolate cupcakes from The Pioneer Woman with 2 delightful flavors - chocolate and peanut butter.

I really like the peanut butter frosting as it complements the dark chocolate fudgy cakes in a sweet-salty way, love how the honey-roasted peanut butter makes the SMB even more fragrant. As a person who usually scraps away my buttercream when devouring the cakes, I sinfully, guiltily indulged this time. Some of my friends still vote for the chocolate buttercream as triple whammies of chocolate cupcake, chocolate buttercream & glaze and a chocolate wafer stick totally satiates even the most chocolate-hungry appetite one can have. Go for it!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB) (from Sweetapolita)
5 large egg whites

250g granulated sugar
340g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or essence
pinch of salt

Choose one of below to add to SMB above
200g melted and cool dark chocolate
200g creamy peanut butter

1. Place egg whites and sugar in a clean and dry metal mixer bowl, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2. Using the whisk attachment of mixer, immediately start whipping until the meringue is thick and glossy. The mixture should be at room temperature by now (It may take around 10 minutes)

3. Switch over to paddle attachment and on low speed, start to add butter cubes gradually, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. Add vanilla, salt, and melted chocolate or peanut butter. Continue to beat on low speed until well combined.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A brief peep into Sarnies, The Muffinry and Group Therapy

My list of to-go cafe list seems to be never ending, such that I don't even really update that list anymore. Cafes are sprouting out much faster than I can visit. It is with much delight then that I managed to pop into 3 of those on my list yesterday. THREE! My friends and I were indeed cafe hopping.

First was to Sarnies at 136 Telok Ayer Street. I've read many rave reviews about their sandwiches. Wow, it indeed did not disappoint. There were 3 of us, the 2 guys ordered the Smoked Salmon ($25.90) and Bacon and Egg ($15.90). Since I don't take bacon but wanted the sourdough and fried eggs of the bacon sandwich, the staff kindly changed the bacon to mushrooms. Double wow! The mushrooms were plump and juicy, seasoned perfectly. The eggs white were cooked through and the yolk slightly molten, coating the sandwich with a layer of creaminess as I sliced through the yolk. There is also a thin layer of a sweet and salty sauce beneath the mushrooms, complementing the whole sandwich as you bite into each crunchy mouthful!

The coffee were uber good too! I think it has just overtaken Habitat as my favourite cappuccino now. The aroma of the coffee was strong and dark, shining through the layers of creamy milk foam. At $5 a cup, I was really gonna order another one if not for the fact that we are going to another cafe afterwards. 

Service was prompt and food were served very quickly. My only peeve was that the weekend menu is different from the weekday menu and choices of sandwiches were limited and prices also seem to be on the high side as I read that their weekday sandwiches were mainly below $15. However, it was still very crowded for a quiet CBD corner in the weekends, surrounding shops were pretty empty if not altogether closed. The people of Singapore sure knows where to get a good sandwich! 

Next stop was The Muffinry on the same street. I've also read many rave reviews of their muffins from various bloggers. Oops, no pictures as we only each bought a muffin for take-away. I had the blueberry muffin with a sweet crumble topping. Their muffins are all priced at $2.80 and I see a selection of brownies and pies as well. There are also ready and wrapped sandwiches available in the chiller, not a very appetizing way of display; however guess the low prices (below $10) made up for the lack of display. 

With regards to the taste... well, it was filled with many plump blueberries and the crumble was a good accompaniment to the otherwise slightly bland and rather heavy cake. Guess I will remain a loyal ShunFu Road Market Choc & Spice muffin fan!

We then went in search of a 3rd cafe for another cuppa coffee. Proceeded to Duxton Hill where we first attempted but not able to get seated at Department of Caffeine (DOC). There was a queue waiting in line at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Singaporeans sure know where to get a good cuppa too! We walked down the row of shophouses and went into Group Therapy which occupies a fairly large shop space on the 2nd floor. 

Ordered a round of Roasted Almond Latte. Hmm..after our fantastic coffee at Sarnies, this was sadly below par. Too sweet to start with , the coffee was also not well-detected, kind of lost in the almond flavor or perhaps that was the way it was meant to be. Both my companion and I did not like it too much. 

In terms of atmosphere, it was cosy and well-decorated. Friendly staff were also very considerate, and closed the window near us when the sun shone in, onto our table as the sun sets into the evening. However, the noise level was at all-time high, not a place to really chill out. You probably have to talk really loudly to make yourself heard to your meal companions. The food (spotted on other tables) look really yummy though! Probably have to repeat a trip to try their food! 

The Chocolate Cupcake Test Bake Kitchen!

I've been asked by a kind friend to bake chocolate cupcakes filled with a hidden chocolate in each, for her event and I've definitely accepted it with much excitement! The only problem was that in my last chocolate cupcake bake a month ago, I've come to the realisation that my usual buttermilk chocolate cupcake recipe is pretty difficult to manage on a large scale. Its large amount of chocolate used means a fair bit of time needed to chop them up, it takes a longer time in the oven and the usually slightly fallen top makes it ever so slightly more difficult to pipe on the frosting.

Thus, I went in search of a few cocoa-based chocolate recipes. I've always found chocolate cupcakes a challenge to make as those that I've made tend to be a little dry or will dry out by the 2nd day. Mr Google's search results showed this to be a common problem amongst bakers as cocoa powder tend to absorb moisture as it melts, therefore resulting in a dry cake. Keeping this in mind, I used a recipe from a PageOne cupcake baking book which I've done before and increased the liquid content within this recipe. This would be my test recipe #1.

My first batch turned out prettily, with almost flat tops which will be a joy to frost and a light crumbly feel to it. However, it was really dry! When I first used it 2 years ago, I added a chunk of ripened banana into each cupcake and I remember it was soft and moist. But this time, it was not even nice to eat; into the dustbin it went, along with some courage as I feared if my baking fingers has forsaken me. However, I decided to try this again. I added 4 tablespoons of milk, subtracted 40g of flour and reduced the baking time by 2minutes. This time, it was better, but still a tad dry, not something that I would like to serve to guests. I went into the next recipe.

The 2nd one I did of the 3 bakes in the same day came from one of my favorite baker blogs "The Little Teochew". Her detailed explanations made her recipes really easy to follow; I love her pictures and her photo-style! After reading through her many chocolate recipes, I've decided to try her "Nigella's Old Fashion Chocolate (Cup)cakes" as I hope the use of sour cream (which I subbed with yogurt) will keep the cakes moist and soft. This is test recipe #2.

Again the bake turned out quite pretty, with only slight domes. I however, used yogurt instead of sour cream and I do wonder if that really resulted in a textural difference, as I find this also a bit dry for my liking. It's better than my 2 attempts in recipe #1, it's soft and crumbly but still not sufficiently moist. The density of the batter was good though as it supported the chocolate inside very well, with it staying exactly where I've placed them, neither sinking to the bottom nor floating to the top.

I decided to move on to my 3rd recipe of the day.

This is a chocolate recipe that I've bookmarked for YEARS, that I've never got round to trying. Do you have that problem too? I'm bookmarking way too many than I can ever try to make. Ha Ha! Often, some of these bookmarks even got deleted by the time I re-visit them. So, this 3rd one is from The Pioneer Woman, her chocolate sheet cake has been made by many around the world and raved about in blogs and pinterest. Seriously... after making this cupcake, I asked myself "WHY DID I TAKE SO LONG TO TRY THIS??" I kicked myself mentally a few times before rejoicing and indulging my friends and myself in the 8 cupcakes that came out from this batch!

Test recipe #3

Without a doubt, this was it! It's dark, moist, fudgy and yet soft. It melts in the mouth and gets even better on day 2 where the chocolate is even slightly more pronounced. Best of all, it's an easy bake, without a need for a mixer! The only issue I had was that the batter is very light and my chocolate pieces which are to be hidden inside the cupcake insists on floating to the top and it's not so hidden after all. However, this is a small matter as I'm going to be covering my cupcakes with a frosting after all.

Look at how the colour of these even differs from the above 2 recipes. I find it really interesting that the ingredients are more or less the same, with only recipe #2 calling for sour cream as an addition; yet the different preparation methods results in cupcakes with vastly different textures and taste! This one from the Pioneer Woman called for melting the cocoa powder in hot swirling butter and from there, I could see the batter becoming much darker, and I do think this could be the key of the intense chocolate taste as the cocoa releases their flavor upon melting. It's a cupcake that makes one feel slightly light-headed, you cannot stop, you have to force yourself away. I beg you, to try this!

Chocolate Cupcakes from The Pioneer Woman
227g unsalted butter
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 cups All-Purpose flour
11/2 cups fine-grained white sugar (300g)
1/4 teaspoon fine seasalt
165ml buttermilk (Which I sub for 150ml Meiji Milk and 15ml of lemon juice, let stand for 10minutes)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 175C, top-bottom.

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium fire. Swirl it constantly, until it reaches a slightly browned stage.
2. Add the cocoa powder and let it melt within the butter. This would start to look very thick.
3. Add the boiling water and stir to combine. Let it come to a boil and boil for about 30seconds. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt and whisk to combine and aerate it slightly.
5. In a measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk, add the eggs and vanilla essence, stir to combine.
6. Add the cocoa mixture to the flour mixture, stirring quickly and thoroughly to let it come together into a  thick, sticky paste.
7. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk mixture, stir briefly and pour everything into the cocoa-flour paste. Stir vigorously to combine the mixtures and it will become a pretty liquid batter.
8. Spoon them into cupcakes cases, drop a chocolate piece into each cup if you'd like and bake them for 18 to 19 minutes. I turned the pans around at 13 minutes.

Remove from oven when the tops have achieved a slight crisp and the toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Additional notes:
1. It can be baked in 2 8-inched line pans for 30 minutes for 2 short layers or 2 6-inched lined pans for 25 minutes for 2 tall layers.
2. Alternatively, make 1.5x the above recipe and baked in 2 8-inched lined pans for 40minutes. (these layers create a slight dome which had to be leveled but results in a higher cake that's more suitable as a birthday cake)

There were my half frosted cupcakes. I was completely caked-out by the end of the day, with a very full and fat tummy and with many many many cupcakes sitting on my table.

You may be wondering now, how about those from the first 2 bakes which are really dry? I decided to core out the middle part, piped some chocolate buttercream, covered the top again and glazed it with a chocolate ganache. Voila! Instant creaminess as you bite into the cake with the cream; the dryness was mitigated. My little nephews and nieces actually preferred this version.

 So, nothing wasted, all went into happy stomachs of my friends and family!