Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chocolate Coated Coffee Beans

When I come across good quality coffee beans, I wouldn’t think twice to buy it. Even if it’s just for 100gr, I have to bring those babies home. So there is this new coffee kiosk in the traditional market near my house. It’s probably just a 3x4m kiosk but boy, does it have plenty of coffee varieties. I usually stop by to place my order then off to buy some veggies or whatever I come to the market for and get back there to retrieve that excellently made cup of coffee. It takes quite sometimes to make because the barista brews the coffee manually.

So last week, they offered me some beans from Vietnam. One sniff of the jar full of those perfectly roasted coffee beans will make you think you’re in Shangrila. That’s the thing with coffee I think. It contains caffeine. Caffeine is a drug. Just like its illegal cousins, it makes you more alert, focused, and happy. I like that. I really, really like that. So by the time I got home, I decided to half the beans to be ground later and some to be covered in chocolate. That way, you’ll get high faster, easier, and still not breaking the law.

“Sir, I need to report my neighbor. There is this crazy cat lady who never sleeps and I think she just might consume something illegal.” Said my neighbor.

I say.. Oh, neighbor.. I pity your existence.

Anyhow, let’s appreciate good beans by eating them. That way, you shall waste nothing.

150gr good quality milk/dark chocolate
75gr freshly roasted coffee beans


-Melt the chocolate in a bain marie.
-Once the chocolate has begun to melt, take the bowl off the water.
-Start tempering the chocolate by stirring. You need to let the heat dissipate so you can use your chocolate. This will take a while. You just need to keep on stirring to get it tempered. 

~~How do I know whether it’s tempered or not? 
Dip the back of a spoon into the chocolate and place in the fridge for 2-3 minutes. If the chocolate is completely set up, smooth and slightly shiny, then the chocolate is tempered.

-Once your chocolate is tempered, dump the beans in.

-Stir until all the beans are coated. Then using a small fork, take each coated beans and place it on a baking sheet.

-Put the coated chocolate in the fridge to speed up the setting up process.
-Peel the cocoa beans off the sheet and store in a glass jar (mason or Ball jar) in the fridge.

What a sophisticated snack!

I'm glad I am patient enough to individually separate the beans. You can, of course, make it in a cluster of two or three beans. But it was such a zen moment for me. No TV, no cell phone, just me, the repetitive action, and the sound of chirping bird in a distance.

A little note:
-Know your beans and find the right chocolate that matches the beans.
-If you use milk chocolate, you don't need to add any powdered sugar to the chocolate when you temper it.
-I use dark but added about almost a table spoon of powdered sugar to give a hint of sweetness in the chocolate because I want to be able to taste the chocolate before the bitterness of the coffee beans kicks in.
-This is not popcorn. You will turn into an energizer bunny if you eat too much at the same time.

Anyhow, if you're an adult and you love coffee, do make this. I promise it is worthy of your precious time. 


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cheddar Brioche Buns

Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion

Ah.. I love Annie Lennox, I love 80s music, I love the cool air, and the smell of the rain!

I am not allergic to sun, it is just that my energy dissipates and my brain goes on hibernate mode when the sun is up in full blast. I am not a lizard, mind you, so there is no need for me to bask in the golden ray of sunshine and soak that vitamin D. Now that I am rejuvenated, I need to celebrate with something indulging, preferably sinfully.

When it comes to French pastry for breakfast, Brioche and Croissant are two of everyone’s top of the list. You can be a brioche person or you can be a croissant person. Though taking sides is the act of a person who has never tried both made from REAL butter. Yep, don’t say you like brioche or croissant better than the other if you have never tried tasting the one made with REAL butter and the dough is rested OVERNIGHT. Truly, they have the ability to transport you to cloud no.9. 

Both are yeasted, both use lots of butter, but one is far easier to be made and won't stain your shirt with flakes.

Now that.. is my golden sun to go with my coffee.

Shall we make it?

Adapted from Savory Simple.
340gr all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry milk
3 tbs granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs instant yeast 
3 eggs
1/4 cup lukewarm water minus 1 tbs
140 gr unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated (or more as needed)
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked (for egg wash)
coarse sea salt

-Mix the flour, dry milk, sugar, salt and instant yeast together. 
-Add the 3 eggs and butter. Mix everything and add the water little by little.

~~If you’re kneading by hands then you really need to pay the attention to the water and adding it little by little because enriched dough is a naughty boy. You’ve gotta spank it but treat it gently to really get him to do what you want. But if you have the luxury of owning a mixer, by all means, work that dough hook on a low speed! Whichever vessel you use, knead for 20-30 minutes.

-Place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. 
-After 1 hour, place the covered bowl into the refrigerator and chill overnight (or 3 hours minimum).
-Set the dough on the counter for 45 minutes to soften the butter slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Roll the dough into a rectangle and spread your shredded cheddar cheese.
-Divide into 8 to make 8 buns.
-Place the buns on the prepared sheet, cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to rise for another 3 hours. 
-Brush the buns with egg wash liberally and sprinkle some coarse sea salt.
-Bake the buns in a 180C oven for 25 minutes or until they're a deep golden brown.

Baked to perfection!
Yes.. Yes.. I am a bread snob and I can snobbishly say you won't find brioche as good as these unless you make it by yourself using the ingredients stated or get on a jet plane and go to France. Because I can vouch that the bakeries around town do not use 100% pure butter and they sure don't have the time to let the dough rise overnight.

I did say something about making something sinful, right? Well, the addition of cheese in the dough just hits the bulls eye. These keep well frozen so you can wrap it individually and pop it in the microwave for breakfast. Of course you can invite Beelzebub over by putting some dark chocolate in the center. Cheese and chocolate? Perfect mate.

Or if you feel like inviting Lucifer over, slice the brioche and put some bacon and cheese in the middle. It's a thought. A completely sane thought.

Go ahead, indulge!


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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thin Crust Pizza, No Proofing Required

The most iconic Italian food is pizza.

But it doesn’t necessarily come from Italy. If you have the time to read about pizza’s origin, you will be presented by a massive amount of stories that consist of dates and names which go back as far as 990 AD. Babylonians, Israelites, Egyptians, Armenians, Greeks, and Romans, and other ancient cultures ate flat, unleavened bread cooked in hearth or mud ovens. Almost every culture has its own version of flat bread. But Italy's version of the dish, especially from Naples, is the one we are familiar with and widely known later as pizza.  Although back in 16th century its name was not pizza and it was commonly known as the dish for poor people. It was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe.

A fun fact about pizza; In 1843, Alexandre Dumas described the diversity of pizza toppings in Le Corricolo. There is a chapter about his impressions on Naples. You can read it at Wow, to think that the writer of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers actually walked around the market and tasted the flat bread that we also love to eat nowadays is pretty amazing.

Anyway, just as Alexandre Dumas described, there are many toppings, there are many sizes, and there are many ingredients people use to make a pizza. It hasn’t changed much for centuries. I have had my share of pizza baking and have tried so many variation of crust from thick to thin and from sourdough to no knead. They are all delicious and I say it is impossible for someone just to have a single preference of crust. There is no “I’m a thick crust pizza person” or “I’m a thin crust pizza person”.  That statement is not legit. Because once you take side and one day you’re served with a pizza so good and it’s not on your spectrum of crust, you’d be questioning your believe.

Thick or thin, as long as you use good quality ingredients, you follow the recipe well, your oven is hot, then your pizza will be delicious.

One thing in common in most pizza is that it requires proofing time in the making even in the thin crust pizza. But what if you’re so hungry and you’re craving for pizza as in —I have to eat some goddamn pizza or I’m gonna punch somebody in the face—kind of craving? The solution is to make the no proofing required pizza. If you have a favorite fancy pizzeria that serves really, I mean really, thin pizza which flaunts the minimalist yet delicious toppings, then it is time to stop paying for their pizza and make it by yourself.

Here’s how...

Adapted from
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp dried herbs of your choice
1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
1 cup of warm almost hot water**
*You can substitute it with all purpose flour but use only 3/4 cup of water
**Test the water by submerging your finger in the cup. It has to be hot but not too hot you can't put your finger in.

Whatever you want.
Of course the basic ones you ought to have is the marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil.

Put your baking stone on the oven floor. If you don't have a baking stone then just skip this step. Turn your oven on, crank it up to 250C. If your oven can't go that high, 240C is okay, just add the baking time.

-Mix all the dry ingredients, add the water, and knead until it is supple and smooth. Not sticky. 
-Divide into two balls. 
-Get one ball. Using a rolling pin, roll it until thin. 
-Get your pizza peel, put a baking sheet or parchment paper on it, then transfer your rolled dough on it. If you are not using a baking stone, just place a baking sheet or a parchment paper on a baking tray.
-To get your dough as thin as possible, after you roll it, pick it up and stretch it with your hands. Let the gravity and the weight of the dough help you. Just don't do it if you have long nails. The nails will poke holes on the flimsy dough.

Spread only the sauce. 1/4 cup of sauce is enough for one pizza. Trust me, a little goes a long way. A soggy thin crust pizza is not appealing on the palate and on the eyes.

-Bake it for 4-5 minutes 
-Take it out, put the cheese and other toppings on, drizzle with olive oil.
-Bake again for 2-3 minutes
-If you can wait, let it cool on the wire rack for 2-3 minutes before cutting it

Here's the picture of the bottom of the pizza, perfectly charred in some spots ensuring you that it is crispy yet still pliable in case you choose to fold it.

Hubba hubba..

The beauty of thin crust pizza is that the crust lets the topping shines, no matter how simple it is, yet still shines on its own.

Oh the cheeesse..

This pizza will feed 3 polite people or two hungry people. 

Or one savage known as a husband. 

So, remember that we still have one ball of dough left? You can bake it right after you bake the first pizza or you can keep it refrigerated in a container. It will keep well for around 3-4 days. That means when the hunger strikes, you'll have no need to knead and you can have delicious pizza in less than 30 minutes. How convenient is that?

That's the one I baked with two days old dough. Taste even better. I had some blanched broccoli in the ziplock bag so off they go as the topping. If you use your cold half cooked veggies for your pizza topping, just toss them on the tomato sauce that you spread on the dough. You definitely do not want hot pizza together with icy cold veggies. After that, proceed in the same fashion.

Happy pizza baking,
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