Tag Archives: Food

Homemade Dulce de Leche

What is dulce de leche, you ask? There was a time in my life when I too knew not the meaning of the words. Darker and sadder times. Dulce de leche, dear reader, is tinned caramel. And it is, quite simply, wonderful. Lick-it-right-off-a-spoon-delicious.

One of the big problems with baking in Dhaka is the lack of good quality ingredients. I have to process my own flour and sugar (to read how, scroll to the end of this post), searched in vain for hazelnuts and pecans (if anyone knows where I can find any, please share!) and the icing sugar here seems to leave a strange clingy aftertaste to the roof of my mouth. Sadness.

One thing, however, which is readily available here in Dhaka – is sweetened condensed milk. And sweetened condensed milk is the one, single ingredient that you need to make your own dulce de leche. YES. That’s all. I’ll give you a moment to blink in disbelief at your screen.

Read on. Make it. Lick it off a spoon.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Ingredients:

1 can of sweetened condensed milk – you need a can that you would open with a can-opener and not one with a ring pull.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

1. Peel off the outer packaging/labels of the can until it is naked. Don’t do anything else to the can, you leave it unopened.

2. Place the can in a large saucepan. Cover with water.

3. Boil for 3 hours. Be sure to top up the water every now and then to ensure that the can is fully covered with water at ALL TIMES*.

4. After 3 hours, take out the can and leave it to cool.

5. Open the can. Gasp in amazement. 

Success!

*If the can is not covered, there is a risk it will explode. Please repress that thrill-seeker in you, and make sure that you keep topping up the water. Make dulce de leche responsibly.

My favourite things to do with dulce de leche (aside from licking it straight off a spoon): Use it to fill and top cupcakes, as a brownie topping or swirl globs of it into your brownie batter before baking, to sandwich together biscuits and whoopie pies, eat it still warm with sticky toffee pudding. The possibilities are infinite!

Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Dulce de Leche

Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Dulce de Leche

Banoffee Cupcakes filled with Dulce De Leche, plus extra piped over the top

Banoffee Cupcakes filled with Dulce De Leche, plus extra piped over the top

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Return to the Natural Habitat.

After 8 months away from home, the moment when I looked out of the plane window and saw London blinking back at me pressed like relief against my chest.

But still. I don’t think it can quite compare to the feeling of being back in my Natural Habitat. I’m talking about being back in the kitchen (feminists, control the gag instincts). More specifically – the feeling of being reunited with my Oven.

Going 8 months without an oven has been cruel punishment indeed. It has meant no baking cakes and, more importantly, no eating cakes.

Dhaka really does not have Great Cake. It just does not. It has edible cake and ‘okay’ cake and ‘I-could-eat-this-I-guess’ cake. But not Great Cake. The only cake I have deemed worthy of eating, in all my cake-snoberyness, is CFC’s chocolate cake. Yes, only in Dhaka would the best chocolate cake find its home in California Fried Chicken.

Even then – there is a part of me that thinks – is this tasting better than it actually is because I have been deprived of Great Cake for so long? Has the lack of stimulation to my taste buds resulted in edible cake appearing to be Great Cake, like a frenzied mirage in a Desert of Great Cake-less-ness?

The horrors.

Let’s put aside the trauma and deprivation and talk about the happiness of reunion instead. The first bake that resulted from the reunion: chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache topped off with a chocolate ganache glaze and a fat dollop of vanilla buttercream. With fresh strawberries on top. Naturally.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes Stuffed with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and Vanilla Buttercream

Makes 8 cupcakes

I got this recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit. After much drooling over photos and recipes, this is the first recipe I have tried from the blog and I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out. My only regret is that I didn’t double the recipe! 8 cupcakes disappeared far too quickly!

This is also the first time I tried using duck eggs in baking! They are supposed to give a richer flavour than regular eggs. I haven’t tried this recipe with regular eggs, so can’t directly compare – but the cakes were definitely incredibly rich!

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Green & Blacks recommended)
1/4 cup full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg to the mixture and beat well until incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder. Use a hand whisk to mix the dry ingredients together.

5. In  a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla.

6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix together until incorporated. Then, add half of the milk and vanilla to the mixture and mix together until incorporated.

7. Add the second third of the dry ingredients and mix again. Add the second half of the milk and vanilla and mix yet again! Finally, add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix everything together until the batter is well incorporated.

8. Line a muffin tin with 8 muffin cases and fill each one no more than two thirds full.

9. Bake for 22-25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back after pressing them, and a skewer comes clean out of the middles.

For the Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

128 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup strawberries, diced

1. Chop the chocolate (as finely as you have patience to do so) and place in a heatproof bowl.

2. Heat up the double cream until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.

3. Pour the cream onto the chocolate and leave to stand for a minute or so, before stirring together until the two combine into gooey chocolatey goodness. Mix in the vanilla and salt.

4. Divide the ganache into two portions. Stir the chopped strawberries into one portion and then place in the fridge to chill and thicken. This will be your  strawberry chocolate ganache.

5. Leave the other half of the ganache on the counter to cool down and thicken. Voila! Chocolate ganache glaze!

For the Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups of icing sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon of full cream milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.

2. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract and mix together on a low speed until incorporated. Once incorporated, turn up to a high speed and mix until light and fluffy.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:

1. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using an apple corer, plunge through the middle of each cupcake and scoop out. Fill the hole with the strawberry chocolate ganache and then put the ‘scooped’ cake part back in the hole. (I wanted a generous amount of filling, so I plunged twice, creating a fatter hole for the filling).

2. Spread a generous helping of chocolate ganache glaze on top of each cupcake and then pipe or spread the vanilla buttercream on top.

3. Top each cupcake with a fresh strawberry. Not only does this look pretty, but the flavour of the fresh strawberry cuts through the sweetness of the buttercream and the richness of the cake perfectly.

:)

Omnomnom

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The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

‘Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.’ – Jo Brand

Something which made my day a lot happier:

I finally purchased it! After I’ve finished drooling at all the yummy photos, I can’t wait to try out the recipes. Which one to try first – red velvet or blackbottom?

www.hummingbirdbakery.com

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