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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Pavlova topped with fruits is something that is so pretty to look at. And that is just something that I have been laying my eyes to in baking books and blogs. Always have the reservation that this dessert might be too too sweet for my taste buds. So obviously to bake it in real takes a push. Something only this challenge could do!

The irregular, sometimes organic shape of pavlova - most of what I have seen - has triggered me to think of my own in the opposite way. I prefer to have the look that is neat - a plain and flat disc would do. And I would definitely want to have the mousse of a plain layer that I could just stack on top of the pavlova disc. Sounds simple ha? For that I have to use cake rings for piping the meringue and forming the mousse layer. Gosh, baking Pavlova at 95 degree Celsius took four and a half hours instead of 2-3 hours mentioned in the challenge. That was a long wait!

As I had imagined, these 2 simplified layers provided an abundant creativity space to play around with fruits for the topping. As if the colourful and various shapes of strawberries, papayas, mangoes, green apples, and grapes were being liberated to take the mousse stage and do the pray-for-rain kind of ritual dance, these fruits were so playful on my finger tips. I just loved working with the irregular shapes of fruit cuts and pair them up with chocolate decorations.

Before too long, besides the 7 inch pavlova, I had created a smaller version of 6 inch one. Creating two different sizes made it possible for me to display them side by side and take more interesting pictures. So I hope you enjoy all these pictures..

Meanwhile someone has emailed me regarding placing an ad in my blog and asked how much I would charge for it. I replied back and requested more details regarding the scope of his business, the url of the banner link, and his ad requirements such as number of ads, the length of the ad period, number of ad updates, etc. Well, it seems that the time has come to monetize this blog, what do you think?

Last but not least, there are 96 entries into June's DMBLGIT!!! Thanks to all of you for participating (especially those first timers who participated with the kind intention of saving the event, thanks!!). I should get down to my judging quickly and have my greatest time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Special 10

Thanks so much to you all for good wishes on my bazaar. I definitely have to do my best in showcasing what I baked for that event: Yellow and Green Kiwi Cheese Cake, Sacher Torte, Oreo Banana Cheese Cake, Butterscotch Almond, and Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes. Hope you enjoy the photos...

As I said in my last post that in the middle of a long-hour hectic baking, I wanted to quit. I couldn’t resist the urge because it was true and present, but as usual, once the work was done I always managed to sleep it off. I mean really slept it off and never took it seriously, although I seemed to realize that if I do pick up this baking thing as a major profession such as opening up a bakery, I do need to give it a second thought, a serious one!

The other fact is that at the end of the day when I got the passing-by customers in the bazaar to drop by my booth intuitively and see what were on the display, ask about the cakes and buy them, that just paid off everything – every drop of sweat, and every ache in my muscle. I was standing by my booth introducing my cakes with every bit of enthusiasm, with a wide smile on my face and of course deep in my heart. That showed the customer action meant so much to a baker :-)

It was a hot Saturday and despite the fact that T was supposed to work on that day, he decided to ask for half-day leave to be with me at the booth. For that I appreciated it so much. And this is another fact that I would not be quitting a commercial baking in another bazaar, if any. Thanks T, you are the best!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Practice... Practice...

First of all, I like to thank Tanja of Tanja's Cupcakes for this beautiful Happy 101 - Sweet Friends award. Really appreciate it, thanks Tanja!

Let me pass it on to 10 good friends...
- Simone of Jungle Frog Cooking.
- Y of Lemon Pi
- Valerie of Chocolate Bunny.
- Anjelikuh of Anjelikuh.
- Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.
- Chef D of Energetic Chef.
- Deeba of Passionate About Baking.
- Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums.
- Jo of Sugar and Everything Nice.
- Vicky of Sweets at Vicky's.

Lately I have been busy dealing with the latest development in my life. Since my work was cut down to 4 days a week, I have been looking for extra things to distract myself and fill up the free day. Aren’t I lucky? My off day is Wednesday, right in the middle of the week. So I literally work 2 days, break 1 day, work 2 more days and weekend break 2 days. It is a great thing, but it is just that I am learning to get used to it. Well, apparently a distraction came handy - the organizer of my previous bazaar told me a week ago that there would be another bazaar at a new location. She was kind enough to book a booth on my behalf since she was familiar with the bazaar organizer. So participating in her bazaar 2 times in a row has made me somehow a familiar face to her.

So I went to visit the building where the bazaar would take place and get to know its residents in order to decide the suitable cakes for the occasion and the rate to price them. Next, I took the time to look into my recipes and books and determined what cakes I should be baking. From the onset, I had included my Chocolate Kiwi Cake ,Fresh Cream Fruit Cake, and Baked Cheese Cakes. However, I needed new cakes to inspire myself and of course allure my prospective customers. So I figured let’s put other types of cheese cakes and mouse cakes in place.

It was a tiring business. Since the bazaar was on a Saturday I had planned to start preparing since Wednesday. Most of the days, I came back tired from work and went straight to baking. Lucky me, T was always there preparing dinner and setting everything up on the dining table right in front of TV. Thanks dear! 2 nights in a row I baked until 3am and in between these long hours, I sometimes wanted to quit and just went to sleep. I just couldn’t keep T to assist me any later than midnight, no matter how much I needed a companion or a pair of extra hands, cause his natural clock rings at midnight sharp and he has to wake up early in the morning. I totally understood and wouldn't mind to do the rest on my own. I was fine, I had to be fine.

On those closed-to-quitting moments, I told myself that this was a practice – a valuable experience - that would help me familiarize each cake’s baking process and speed things up in the future. And compared to my previous two bazaars, I could see that I did improve in terms of speed. I finished on time on Saturday morning!

Okay, I will be right back with you about the bazaar. For now, I hope you are happy with a Saffron Macaron recipe! Enjoy…

Friday, June 4, 2010

Is It Time To Judge?

Nidhi from Snacksgiving wrote me an email just recently and asked me whether I would want to be the judge for June’s DMBLGIT. Being the host of this month’s event, Nidhi depicted that the number of entries to the photo contest has been continuously decreasing, to a point where if nothing improves, this month’s event could be the very last ever!

Wow, that is critical, isn’t it? I mean which one of us the food bloggers, who actually never heard of or felt eager to be part of DMBLGIT which has been running for 5 consecutive years? And could we imagine an event that has been inspiring us to cook and bake better so we can take a better food shot goes to an end?

So something needs to be done, dear friends ... to keep DMBLGIT going! Let’s show our support to Andrew of Spittoon and Spittoon Extra, the creator of DMBLGIT and Nidhi of this month’s host by sending your best food photo entry from your blog posts in May to June’s DMBLGIT. Besides the entry, you could also help spread the words for the event and its 5th anniversary by simply mentioning about it in your next post. To check out what Nidhi has to say click here.

I rememberred as a food blogger wannabe, I went into Bonbini and admired Thip's DMBLGIT winning photos and simply made a wish that someday soon I would become a food blogger and take nice photos myself. And hopefully if I was good enough I could win DMBLGIT myself someday. Truthfully, it is worthwhile having dreams and making wishes because they can come true.

My dream came true. And for those of you who share the same DMBLGIT dream, send your best photo and make your work seen. Help save this photography event and at the same time, keep other foodbloggers’ dreams alive.

So here come the judge :-)

As promised, I like to share the Strawberry Panacotta recipe which appeared to be the best seller in the bazaar! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday Special 09

Sunday turned out to be another hot sunny day, and lucky enough we had prepared containers to put ice replicating emergency refrigerators. With T’s help I managed to bake 1 Cheese Cake, 1 Kiwi Chocolate Cake, 1 Vanilla Chocolate Cake, 1 Fresh Cream and Fruit Cake, 15 cups of Stawberry Panacottas, 10 cups of Orange Panacottas, and 36 Vanilla Cupcakes. Gosh, I was actually impressed with the range we produced within the available time. By the way, Panacotta was T’s idea since he liked it the last time I made Vanilla Panacotta from the previous post.

Arriving at the spot, we were pleased to find out that we got a space shaded under the building and with a nice table for setting up our cake stands. And the organizer actually gave us the first counter next to the entrance. There were about 20 counters selling various merchandise from clothes, books, shoes, to durian snacks. The latter belonged to the counter next to ours, taken care by a nice young lady who happened to be staying in the same building with us.

We finished setting up around 2:15pm and it was a bit quiet at the beginning. At one point I was actually cracking my head thinking what should we be doing if our cakes weren’t sold at all. The ideas varied from giving away to the orphanage, neighbors or the event organizer. Eventually people, I mean buyers did come, slowly but surely. Our first customer came for a cup of Strawberry Panacotta. It was a hot day and everybody needs a cold dessert. And the way we displayed these Panacotta cups in a transparant ice filled container did attract the eyes in such weather. A second buyer was a handsome guy came for a slice of Cheese Cake, a slice of Kiwi Cake and a Cupcake. What a generous purchase! And then more and more buyers were coming by.

T and I were busy slicing the cake, placing these slices in cake boxes, putting the boxes in plastic bags, giving to the customers, collecting money, and giving change. And of course having a little bit of chit chat with familiar faces. And T happened to be very good at having small talks with the customers or showing welcoming gestures to passers-by. Thanks to T we managed to sell 90% of the cakes within three and a half hours!

And yes, of course a post will not be complete without a recipe. So I will share my Strawberry Panacotta in the following post. See you!