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Feb 24, 2012

Tipsy Cranberry-Chocolate Cupcakes

Remember that bottle of Jamaican Rum I had to open and use for the Carrot Cocktail? Even after several servings *hic*, there's still plenty left and I'm starting to enjoy using rum in my kitchen adventures.

I was browsing through some recipes and came across Ann's gorgeous Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes.
With some dried cranberries leftover from all the Christmas baking, I knew I had to make this immediately. (Especially when I read that this had rum in it.)
And get this! For the first time (first time for as far as I can remember anyway), I followed a recipe to the letter and made no changes ... oh, except maybe for the squiggly white chocolate decoration and the recipe title.

One thing I'd do different to this already perfect recipe would be to add more rum (sorry, Ann, I'm a closet alcoholic in denial. Oh, did I just admit to it? Guess I'm not in denial anymore! Yay! Let's drink to that!) and to soak those cranberries longer than I did. I just couldn't wait to make them, I guess. (Ya, right).

There's something seriously wrong with the weather here. The evaporation rate is crazy. Each time I add rum, it seems to evaporate really quickly *sip* and I'd have to add more *sip* and there seem to be never enough *sip* to soak the cranberries in *sip* *hiccup*. (Exshquish me).

For Ann's original, less tipsy and sane post, click here.
Otherwise, continue reading for recipe ....


80 g dried cranberries
3 tbs rum (more! more!)
175 g butter, softened
150 g icing sugar
45 g good quality cocoa powder
90 ml hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
75 ml whipping cream
175 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 170˚C.
Soak cranberries with the 3 tbs of rum for an hour. (Will try soaking them overnight next time).
Mix sifted cocoa powder with hot water. Set aside.
Mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Beat butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add in cocoa mixture and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Add in eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
Whisk in cream.
Fold in flour and then add in soaked cranberries together with whatever juices it's been soaking in (if there's any left after all the sipping). Mix well.
Spoon batter into lined muffin tins 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 - 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean when inserted into middle of cupcake.
Remove from tins and cool on racks.
Top with ganache to serve.
Decorate with white chocolate squigglies, sprinkles, sugar shapes, etc.

(Okaaay ... this part I didn't follow 100%)


125 g semi-sweet / bitter chocolate, chopped
100 ml cream
20 g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I didn't add this)
1/2 tbs rum (optional) (what do you think I did?)


In a microwave-proof glass container, heat the cream and then mix together with the chopped chocolate.
Stir until smooth and all chocolate have melted. (If you find it to be lumpy, give it a short zap in the microwave and stir. Take care not to burn the chocolate).
Stir in butter. Mix well.

Feb 21, 2012

DIY: Salted Eggs

I'm a simple girl at heart ... GIRL?! *Ahem* ... Let me rephrase that ....

I'm a simple person at heart.
I like simple things.
I'm comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.
I wear very minimal make up and that's if I have to.
I like the simple things in life (but I need the air conditioner. If you live in this part of the world, you would too)
And, I like simple food ... most times.

Mum used to make me eat rice congee/porridge when I was sick .... I hardly get sick, but I'd still developed a dislike for congee. I call it "Sick Food". But mum knows me too well and she'd include two halves of a hard-boiled salted duck egg, some braised soy beans/peanuts in soy sauce and some pickled mustard greens. And I'd be happily swallowing 2 bowls of congee ... ok, maybe I wasn't thaaaat sick.

So, when I saw this Homemade Salted Eggs post at Sonia's, I knew I had to make these, or at least try to, at least once ... just to know how.
Not that it's expensive to buy from the shops or there's any difficulty getting them, it's just a condiment that's also getting pretty popular these days. The restaurants have come up with the latest craze .... salted egg yolk everything. There's salted egg yolk pumpkin, crab, fish, shrimp, chicken, vegetables .... all of which I love!
Oh, wait .... this is turning into something not so simple after all , whoops.
Secret's out ... I need to make those dishes for myself at home! That's my weakness ... food. Makes you wonder why I have to keep getting new jeans every so often.

Well, I tried the recipe and it turned out really well, except that I thought it was a lot saltier than what I'm used to. Maybe I'll try to reduce it by a few days.
I'm very happy with it and this won't be a one time experiment. In fact, I've already started on the 2nd batch and I'm also trying it out with chicken eggs.

[Here's the update: I have been asked about making this with chicken eggs and fortunately I had a batch ready yesterday. Honestly, don't even bother with chicken eggs. It's nothing as good as duck eggs. Salted chicken eggs tastes just like regular hard-boiled eggs dipped in a little salt. Duck eggs (esp the yolks) have a very rich milky flavor. My suggestion for those who can't get or have difficulty getting duck eggs is to use goose eggs ... assuming that's an easier find. *shrug*.
Unless maybe, you're adventurous enough to try it with ostrich eggs ... tell me about it if you do.]

For Sonia's step by step guide and more beautiful pictures, click here.
I've reduced the recipe by half for this round since it was suppose to be a test batch. Besides, I didn't have a container large enough to fit too many eggs.


8 duck eggs
200g coarse salt
500 ml water


Wash eggs well and dry with a soft cloth or paper towels. (Do not soak eggs).
Place salt and water in a pot and boil until salt is completely dissolved.
(*Note: I've found that not all the salt could dissolve but that's ok. Read on ...)
Leave to cool. (You'll notice the salt starting to crystallize around the pot. That's when you know the salt to water ratio is correct). Strain.
Place eggs in a large, clean glass jar, add the salt water solution.
(Make sure the eggs are completely submerged. To help the eggs stay submerged, I'd filled a small plastic bag with air, sealed it and placed it on top before replacing the jar lid).
Store in room temperature for 14 days.
Boil eggs for 10 mins before serving.

FYI: The traditional way to get rid of the shell after it's boiled is NOT to peel the egg as you would with a normal hard boiled egg but to cut the egg in half, lengthwise, then scoop out as you would an avocado.

Feb 16, 2012

Carrot Cocktail

A toast to all the bunnies out there! Those who were famous during my time and now almost forgotten for the new characters that have taken over the world of classic fairy tales, classic book characters and toons. Now when I see any rabbit featured in a movie or a book, it'll inevitably transform into some gadget wielding, alien fighting machine or sprout wings and fangs, flying off into the midnight hour looking for some luscious neck to sink their teeth into. Sigh .... Where have all the cute cuddly creatures gone? And people wonder why our society is getting more violent. Duh.

What brought this on?
Hmm .. well, let's see ...

~ It was supposed to be something with carrots and ginger for the Improv Challenge organised by Kristen.
~ There were so many ideas going on in my head and then I realised I don't have many beverage posts on this blog of mine.
~ I'm up to my eyeballs in mandarin oranges from Chinese New Year and getting tired of making marmalade.
~ I've some lovely ginger syrup from making Candied Ginger .
~ I have some very good apple juice from Vom Fass.
~ Oh, and a new bottle of Jamaican Rum that needs to be opened and used.
~ And to top it all off, my mother told me to eat more vegetables. I figured I'll drink mine.

[ I guess this post would be more appropriate on Easter, especially for the adults having to run after little kids during Easter egg hunt parties. Right, I shall repost this at Easter. ]

Meanwhile ...


150 ml mandarin orange juice
150 ml carrot juice
150 ml spiced apple juice (see recipe below)
50 ml rum


Combine all ingredients.
Refrigerate or put in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, baby, shake!
Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with ginger and carrot slices.
Or float a piece of candied ginger in it.



1 cup apple juice ( I used Vom Fass apple juice)
3 - 4 allspice pods
1/2 cinnamon stick


Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight.
(Personally, I prefer a stronger spiced flavor, so I left mine for 2 days before adding to the cocktail or alternatively, just double up the amount of spices if you can't wait).

Feb 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Gift

I don't do mushy. I can't even pretend coz then it'll sound so hokey.
But I do want to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. So what better time than today (it is Valentine's Day already in this part of the world) to give out these two awards that I've been given by Veronica and Christina. Thank you both so much!

Here's to all my friends and followers (yes, every single one of you), please accept this with loads of love and appreciation for being so supportive.
I know I should put out a list in case anyone feels too shy to receive this but it's going to be a reeeeeaaallly long one, and all the linking?! I wanted to give out to not just 5 or 10 people but to everyone, so I guess this is it!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I wuv you all to bits!
(That's as mushy as I get)

Feb 9, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Candied Ginger

This'll spice up your love life. No, not talking about weird toys or little blue pills. Just something sweet, something spicy, something different.
I had made some candied ginger at the post before this. And it occurred to me to turn this plain little cube-like things into something a little more exotic than the usual chopped-up-and-put-into-cakes-or-cookies.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. And may I remind everyone that this day isn't just for the head-in-the-clouds folks, but also for old fogies like me to appreciate and to send out some appreciation and some platonic love (in case some folks get the wrong idea here).
Ok, shutting up now .... going to get some spice in my life ... going to chew on some chocolate ginger. What were you thinking?


candied ginger (see previous post)
good quality dark chocolate (sweet, semi sweet, bitter, white, whatever)


Melt chocolate however you want. I zapped mine in the microwave in short bursts (so that it doesn't burn).
Stir in between zaps.
Dunk candied ginger pieces halfway into chocolate. (You can dunk the whole thing if you like).
Allow to cool and set in fridge.

*Tip: Skewer the ginger pieces, dunk them in chocolate and then stick the skewers into a styrofoam block while they cool and set (like a pin cushion) so that they don't get smeared.

February is #chocolatelove month! Check out all the gorgeous yummies!

Feb 3, 2012

DIY: Candied Ginger

(Thank you everyone for helping get this to FoodBuzz Top 9)

Funny how our tastes change over the years. Or maybe I should just speak for myself.
I used to hate ginger as a kid ... even as a young adult. It took me awhile to get to like this interesting little rhizome. And it all started with this ... candied ginger.
These unassuming little things are great to add into fruitcakes and cookies ... even eaten on it's own, unless you're not into ginger, of course.
Ginger is actually very good in aiding digestion, treats stomach discomforts, reduces nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, arthritic pains and a whole lot of other things that I've read about, told about and haven't had a chance to do anything about ... that's good in a way I suppose.
The Chinese revere this humble root. It's a definite must for confinement dishes, supposedly getting rid of bloatedness and toxic gases in the tummy. "Confinement" here means the recovery period after birth for the new mother, not criminals in jails.

I took this opportunity to show off a small part of the family heirloom. The spoon and bowl, both with a hand-painted dragon motif, is part of a set that has some real gold bits on them. I'm not too sure if it's safe to use them for eating because of the lead content normally found in the glaze of old Chinese ceramics. Since it's the dragon year, we dug them out of their cupboard "caves" for the festivities before they are banished for another 12 years.

To get nice clear, translucent pieces of candied ginger, you'll have to get super young ginger roots. It really doesn't matter if they're a little older but bear in mind that you'll have a more pungent and spicier flavor.

I have here a batch made from younger rhizomes and another from slightly older ones. You can see the difference in the colors. I'd made smaller pieces out of the older roots since they're "spicier" and takes a little longer to soften.

It isn't difficult. It doesn't take too much time. And the best part at the end of it is, you can use the leftover syrup to make homemade ginger ale or a slight twist to that, lemongrass ginger ale.


young ginger

(What? You're expecting more ingredients?)


Peel and slice ginger into 1/2" thick rounds or cubes. Halve the size for older ginger (you can tell it's TOO old when there's too much fiber).
Place cut ginger into a pot and add enough water to cover the pieces.
Cook on medium heat for about 30 - 45 mins or until pieces are tender, depending on how old the ginger is.
Drain, reserve about 3 - 4 tbs of liquid.
Weigh drained ginger. Add the same amount of sugar and the reserved liquid in pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until ginger turns translucent and liquid is reduced. About 45 mins - 1 hour.
Leave to cool a little. Drain and reserve sugar syrup to make ginger ale.
Toss drained pieces in powdered sugar or not (it's up to you). Separate the pieces out so that they don't clump together.
Allow to dry overnight on a piece of parchment.
Store in jars or airtight containers.

Note: Since this doesn't contain any preservatives, I'd suggest keeping them in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.