Sandwiches go a long way back in history. The ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder is said to have wrapped lamb and bitter herbs placed between two pieces of soft unleavened bread. The idea of a sandwich didn’t leave Europe till around the 19th century, when it was promoted as an elaborate meal in the USA. While I much prefer my steaming bowl of prawn noodles or sambal fried rice, sandwiches are admittedly a fast food and delicious option at the same time.
Sandwiches are easily handheld and so portable. I would say it’s almost like your cellphone. It’s hard to see the busy without one to fill the tummy.
As for ice cream sandwiches, you probably can’t use just any random cookie. It has to be one that freezes well with the ice cream, without becoming rock-hard. Today I made Flo Braker’s chocolate snaps. Pardon the terrible pun but not only were the cookies a snap to make, they were the perfect body for my stale vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was sitting idly in the freezer and I’m pretty sure they were just dying to be finished in the most appropriate way. Hence today’s dessert. Now excuse me while I devour the rest of my stash.
Flo’s Chocolate Snaps
makes 80 cookies
- 3 cups (420 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (250 g) sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the butter and the sugar on medium speed just until smooth. Add the vanilla, then beat in the egg and egg yolk.
Gradually add the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until completely incorporated and no streaks of butter remain.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters, and shape each quarter into a log about 7 inches (18 cm) long and 1½ inches (4 cm) in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they’re firm enough to slice, about 1 hour.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Slice the logs into disks ½ inch (1.5 cm) thick and place the disks on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about ½ inch (1.5 cm) apart.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are puffed and slightly firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the cookies with a bit of sugar.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. They will continue to firm up and get “snappy” as they cool.
STORAGE: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The baked cookies can be kept in an airtight container for 2 days.
Recently I made a joke out of myself.
An old friend approached me, asking, “can you make me a cake?”. Of course I didn’t mind doing one. I asked what kind he wanted, and he said, “a penis cake”. It was for his friend’s birthday. I thought it over for one hour before agreeing to it. And I blew it. No pun intended (believe me). I really tried, I really did. But the cake ended up looking like the balls could fall off any second and icing got runny in the heat outside the house.
I’m still very embarrassed over what I delivered. I hate to promise people things and not delivering my best. The feeling sucks and I don’t think I want to go through that again. At least, not to make an obscene cake for the rest of my life.
Okay. Enough talk about that. I’m having beer as I type this. Obviously beer isn’t enough to make me forget.
Anyway, this recipe was what I used as the base for that cake. A simple chocolate sponge (really easy), and a cointreau spiked ganache. And on top of it, cocoa nibs to add texture and crunch. There’s really nothing much to elaborate but you gotta moisten the sponge cake with espresso or something like that. Other than that, this makes a great snack for anytime of the day, and a fantastic base for a triple deck ice cream cake.
Next time, I’m sticking to what I’m best at. Simplicity. No more ambitious and wild cakes from now on. I ruined a boy’s birthday and possibly everyone else’s corneas for the matter. No more, no more. I’m done with it.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
slightly adapted from best recipes australia
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup corn flour
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
cocoa nibs (optional)
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan (or any other pan, it works).
Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until soft peaks. While beating, add combined sugar and baking soda gradually. When peaks achieved, add egg yolks and beat together. Add syrup and beat again briefly till combined.
Sift dry ingredients thrice and add to the wet mixture by folding gently. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Allow the sponge to cool for 5 minutes before turning onto a metal rack.
Cut sponge into layers (your desire) and moisten it with espresso. Spread chocolate ganache (recipe below) and stack cake. Sprinkle onto cake with cocoa nibs and refrigerate cake for at least an hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if so desired.
Chocolate Orange Ganache
300ml heavy cream
300g dark chocolate (66-70%), chopped
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon grand marnier or cointreau (I used cointreau)
Bring cream to boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate, butter, orange zest, liqueur. Let ganache stand for 3 minutes and whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Chill in fridge 30-40 minutes.
So. It’s June 1st, 9.58pm as I type this. Just 2 minutes shy of 2 hours to I turn 24. Dang. Okay so I shouldn’t be depressed like your average 30 year old woman. I mean, 24 is pretty much the new 21. Except that you pretty much know where you’re headed, more or less. You party less and your Facebook wall gets less inundated with alcohol-driven parties and flushed-red faces. That said, people don’t really have much reason to bitch about your personal life, except to wonder as they stalk you online at every waking hour.
What’s really important now is yourself, really. Forget about boys (you can’t really call them guys until they are 90, but that’s just a figure of speech), it is time to focus on where you’re headed and what you seriously want in life. Where do you see yourself 5 years later? For one, I can’t foretell what life will be like in 5 years time for me. Maybe I’m afraid, but I guess I find thrill in not knowing what’s next, where I’ll be in a couple years or so. Instead, I like to enjoy the now, and try not to worry about the future.
After all, isn’t ignorance bliss?
Right now, I’m just enjoying life as it is. I try to keep myself terribly busy (which I find it addicting) with short bursts of breaks now and then. That’s when I try to catch up on sleep. This year is the year I hope to make things happen for good. Every year, you get one chance to make a wish (on your birthday). To be honest, I don’t really care about having a new bag or another pair of shoes. What I want, money can’t buy. If wishes could come true, I will wish for another 10 wishes just in case.
Ah, let’s live each day to the fullest. It’s easy to be grumpy all the time but it’s much easier to be happy. And hey, like how “easy” it is to grasp a man’s heart through food, it’s just as easy to make yourself a happy meal. In this case, a happy sandwich.
I never used to like the idea of peanut butter and jam together. Then one day, I decided to cook some raspberries (one of my favorites) over a small fire. Sprinkled sugar on them to my taste (I like my jam sour), and voila, I had a tart raspberry jam. I slathered it on one slice of bread and creamy Skippy peanut butter on another. It was the first and best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’ve had, up till now. Looks a little gross, but it’s simple, yet satisfying.
Think life is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after all?
I shall cut to the chase. This is a wonderful recipe to have on hand for last minute parties and if the microwave oven is the only contraption your kitchen has. It’s versatile, adaptable and so delicious. I recently saw this shared on Facebook and with a friend’s lunch party in a few days, I knew this was it. Depending on how long you microwave it, and how thick the walls of your cup is, your cake can be molten or a souffle. I like to microwave on 30 second bursts, giving me room to gauge the consistency.
Forgive the horrid photos. I took them on a whim.
Here’s the recipe below, with some tweaks I made.
5 minute nutella cake in a cup for one
4 tablespoon self rising*
3 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoon Nutella
3 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
Mix the dry ingredients. Then add in the wet ones. One recipe is enough for a medium sized coffee mug, or 2 regular sized ramekins. Microwave on high at 30 second bursts, checking each time to prevent over cooking. From here, you can decide how moist you want the cake to be. My friends loved the molten texture, and so did I.
*substitute for self-rising flour recipe
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
I wish I had a proper story to pen down. But today I just want to know why the hell I have to put up with an unstable parent everyday. It’s worse than a major break-up with your perfect guy or a 7 day food poisoning. It’s gotten so bad I don’t want to live in this house anymore. But that’s just wishful thinking.
I don’t know why I’m writing this down on the internet. But I have to say, 2 years is too long, too much to handle. Friends can sympathize but they can’t empathize. No one in a 20 foot radius can genuinely understand. They don’t live with it. Sometimes I read through life stories of other children going through the same situation. It helps, occasionally. But what will really help is this whole thing to end.
I’m not counting on it.
Laughter is my medicine. And so is the company of my dog. I can’t let myself snap because of someone else. I haven’t done wrong so how is that fair. Though it feels like I’m losing someone to an illness, I’d hate to continue feeling this way. Life goes on.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to bake stuff for some pocket money, mess around in a bistro’s kitchen (ok not really), goof around during random photo shoots (really really) and look forward to an upcoming internship.
Case in point, that’s the problem when you read between the lines too much. It isn’t really necessary all the time. I think I’ve revealed enough.
I’ll try to write happier pieces in future. So now, on a happier note, here is a recent experiment I tried with brownies. I found a basic fudgey brownie recipe, tweaked here and there, added this and that, and came up with something nothing short of amazing. At least, to the people I shared with, they were good. As the best is yet to be, I’m very certain these can still be better.
These aren’t your typical cakey or really chewy brownies. They are so moist, and melt in your mouth…well, they are the perfect breakfast dessert alongside your hot latte. They may not have weed inside, but then again, they sure are a batch of happy brownies. Here’s to a better and happier day ahead, because it will always be so someday.
experimental brownies part 1
makes an 8 x 8 inched
NB: They tasted just as good on the 2nd day, and a little firmer too.
As brown sugar contains molasses, you will have a little sour tang in them.
140g (5 oz) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g (7 oz) of 70% dark chocolate, melted
130g soft brown sugar
40g white sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract
¼ tsp of salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tbsp of espresso coffee
1 tsp glucose/corn syrup (leave this out if you do not have)
75 g (2/3 cup) of plain flour
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Spray an 8 by 8 inch square pan with non stick cooking spray and lay the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugars and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and espresso. Beat until all is combined.
Add the melted chocolate, glucose/corn syrup and whisk, add the dry ingredients and mix everything together until it’s incorporated but don’t over mix.
Pour batter into your prepared pan, spread evenly and bake for about 40 minutes or until when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but not wet batter.
Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Okay so maybe sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. Whether it is a recipe for disaster or something you know that will bear no future, I guess there are things a plenty that we can at least be thankful for.
Life works in the weirdest of ways. As I grow older by the minute, I find myself letting go of the smallest things that used to bug me so often. I try to think less of what makes me sad and hey, I’m actually moving on. The bridge has begun to be built, and I’m trying to cross it.
So what am I thankful for?
I’m thankful for the sun, for it is nature’s prozac and it makes me happy, no matter how blistery it may be on the skin. Sometimes I embrace the heat at noon. If a friend wishes to head to the park to rollerblade in the scorching sun, I’m there.
I love food. And I’m thankful for the friendly elderly man not giving up on his stir fried hokkien noodles by the corner nearby. Extra chilli, please.
I’m thankful for how weddings here do not use real wedding cakes anymore. I cannot seem to forget how bad that wedding cake tasted at this Mexican wedding I attended. Why the hell was I there uninvited? Oh yes. That. Never mind, moving on……
I’m thankful for my appendix removed. Hey, without that useless bag of whatnot, I can race ya, and beat ya, without throwing up, after a full course meal. Anyone up for the challenge?
I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for friendship. Not your typical “hey, it’s been so long, let’s meet for coffee. Say, next week?”. And…nothing. Well, to a certain bunch of people: You guys rock. xoxo
To round things up, you can never be too grateful for the existence of cookies and ice cream. Enough cookies and cream, how about ice cream sandwiches instead? Remember going to Disneyland and you begged your mom so hard for that Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich? That probably went for $5 a pop. Oh well, Disneyland is practically history in my case. Now, I can only look forward to more sun, edible wedding cakes, and a month’s supply of ice cream sandwiches in my freezer.
Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
I make my own cookies and ice cream. But to keep it simple, buy your favorite vanilla ice cream and any mix-in. Grab a box of chewy chocolate chip cookies. The rest is history as you know it.
A tip worth mentioning, let your ice cream soften a bit, spread it out in a baking pan couple of inches deep, and refreeze. Once harden again, use a round cookie cutter to cut circles out. Make sure they match the size of your cookies.
Did that sound a bit too troublesome for you? If you are less of an OCD unlike some, simply go for the rustic look, as how I like to call it.
Enjoy, everyone. (: