Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Killing 2 birds with 1 stone

Have been wanting to practice my piping skill as mentioned in my previous post, however couldn't find a suitable recipe whereby i can really practice my skill till i accidentally chance upon the recipe for VIENNESE BISCUITS. The ingredient needed for this recipe is rather simple - just butter, sugar, plain four and chocolate for melting. This recipe call for piping the batter into 5 cm length using a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Haha....... beside, it also give with a chance to TEMPER CHOCOLATE. According to some write up on tempering of chocolates (the process of melting chocolates), will actually gives you a smooth and shinning texture of chocolate, and most important of all, if the chocolates is tempered correctly, it would set in room temperature and when moulded, a light knock on the table will actually pop out the chocolate from it's repective mould and it would not melt (by keeping in air-tight container) till it comes in touch with heat again.

However, my attempt to kill 2 bird with 1 stone has failed.

The pictures above shows that it seems perfectly alright, isn't it? Well, it does seems so. However, a closer look will actually tells that my piping skill is lousy. Infact, i find it so difficult to control the piping bag. As such, 5 cm is no longer
5 cm, there are some fat and short one, some really slim one, and some that curls up at the edge. Luckily, i'm not piping some wordings on a cake, otherwise, an "I" might become a "L" or "J". Perhaps a "C" may become a "S". I really couldn't imagine myself piping decoration for a cake. :(

Here's a closer look of what i'm descriping :

If this is not clear enough [my camera could only produce this type of quality, heehee ;P - perhaps my photo taking skills also got problem ;) ] Here's an enlarge version.

So, what's wrong with the melting of the chocolate? Well, from the picture, you can't tell. But i know my attempt failed because the chocolate doesn't set at all, even after several hours of waiting. And the waiting time in an open space have actually makes the biscuits turned soft.
An extract from what i read about tempering chocolates follows:
Tempering Chocolate
By: Allrecipes Staff

Whether you're dipping confections in chocolate, coating truffles, or making chocolates in a candy mold, you need to know how to temper chocolate.
Tempering allows the crystals in chocolate to be distributed and suspended evenly throughout the final product. Correctly tempered chocolate will yield a bright, crisp, and shiny chocolate, while incorrectly tempered chocolate will produce results that are streaky and dull.

1. To melt and temper chocolate, you need chocolate couverture: the kind with real cocoa butter. Start with 12 ounces or more: a large amount is easier to work with, especially for beginning chocolatiers. You'll need a pot of water, a clean, completely dry stainless steel bowl to act as a double boiler, and a rubber spatula for stirring. Any moisture in the bowl will interrupt and ruin the tempering process. Place the pot of water on the stove and bring the water to a slow boil.

2. Chocolate chips or coins (available from some specialty purveyors) are ideal for tempering, as they are all the same size and will therefore melt evenly. If you're using a block of chocolate, a serrated knife works well for chopping; you can also use a dough cutter (bench scraper) or other knife. Chop chocolate into even pieces that are no larger than half an inch square.

3. Use the dough cutter, bench scraper, or your hands to transport the chocolate to the dry bowl. If you use your hands, move quickly: the chocolate will melt in your hands. Keep a dry kitchen towel handy for wiping hands and surfaces free of chocolate crumbs and drips.

4. Place the bowl on top of the pot of hot water and gently stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it has melted completely and looks smooth. You can keep the water at a simmer while the chocolate melts, or you can turn the heat off entirely. For small amounts of chocolate, it is appropriate to turn off all heat: steam can introduce moisture to the chocolate, causing it to seize up or curdle. In addition, some chocolate has a very high cocoa butter content, which if heated too quickly will cause the chocolate to break and crystallize. White chocolate, in particular, needs very gentle handling.

5. Test the temperature of the chocolate. You need to melt the chocolate to a target temperature of about 110 degrees F (45 degrees C). Be cautious not to go over the target temperature to avoid scorching. As soon as the chocolate reaches the proper temperature, remove the bowl from the heat, dry the bottom of the bowl, and begin the process of cooling and agitation that is essential in tempering. One way of cooling the melted chocolate is to add chopped, un-melted couverture to the bowl. (Add about a third of the amount of chocolate you started with: if you melted 12 ounces, add an additional 4 ounces of finely chopped chocolate.) Stir vigorously until chocolate is melted. This process, called "seeding," allows the crystals in the unmelted chocolate to dictate the shape in the melted chocolate, giving you the desired smooth, glossy result.

6. Now, if your chocolate is too cool to work with, you must bring the chocolate's temperature back up to approximately 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) to use it for coating or molding. Pastry chefs use a method called "tabling" to temper chocolate, a cooling-and-agitation method which involves pouring two-thirds of the melted chocolate onto a marble slab. The chocolatier quickly spreads it thin with a metal spatula, scrapes it back into a pile with a putty knife, and spreads it thin again, repeating until the right sludgy consistency is reached. This cooled chocolate is stirred into the bowl of reserved warm chocolate.

7. Test the temper by dipping a knife tip into the chocolate and letting it sit for two to three minutes. Is it still sticky? It's not in temper. Properly tempered chocolate should be firm to the touch after a few minutes.
I have read the above several time for several days before my attempt. However, MY ATTEMPT TO KILL 2 BIRDS WITH 1 STONE FAILED COMPLETELY.
Goodbye for now - Viennese Biscuits, till we next meet again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spider Web Cake

Oops, spider web cake, haha......... sound scary right? Actually, i was refering to the spider web design on the cake.

Talking about this spider web cake, sometime last year, so many of us is crazy over this cake. The cake is really delicious. I still remember the 1st time when i attempted to do this cake, i was such an "idiot". One of the ingredient involve in this cake requires to be crushed. Guess what i did? Haha..... i actually do it the very traditional way - I POUND IT. To think that i actually have a blender/miller at home, yet i didn't use it......... so stupid right? At that time, i still “死要面子”,i said i enjoyed crushing it by pounding it as i enjoyed watching it being crushed under my hand. Haha......... "You are a sadist" - my friend commented, and of course it's meant to be a joke.

So much of last time, back to the main purpose of this post. I have been wondering how to draw a nice spider web till i saw the picture demonstration in one of these recipe book. Here's how it is being done:
1st, you mixed some coco powder with hot water (thick but runny enough to be pipe), place it in a piping bag, and pipe a swirl (circular form) on top of the cake (before cooking) as show above.

Then you use a satay stick to pull out straight line from the centre of the swirl as shown in the picture on the right.

The completed design before cooking will look like the picture below.

Dada............. the cake after cooking is like the picture above.
Well, i still needs lots of practice on my piping skills as you would have notice the thickness of the swirl is not very even. Heehee.......... that's how a real spider web should looks like isn't it? I believed no real spider web will be even in their "cottonly thread". ME AND MY "AH Q" 精神! :p

Monday, May 5, 2008


Tdy, colleague L cried in the office. L's so called being retrench......... but without official notice and the last day would probably be June 2.

So sad for L. After spending 8 over years with the company, now that the section is closing and L is expected to leave on L's "own accord" - without any retrenchment compensation or any notification about the decision. It's only after much pestering with L's boss that L realised the company is letting L go just like that. Actually L more or less expected it but never expect them to not even inform at all. Sigh.............

A few year back, the "sister" company also retrench some one who works abt 17 to 18 years with the company already. The reason is just becos - times up - 55 already. Alamak, being retrench at 55, how to get another job else where.

L is not even anything near that but then for L's age (even though L is still younger than me), it's still difficult. L told me that while browsing around, L is being told that they are not looking for "matured" one. What a "good" word this professional job placement company uses.

I'm already in my 20th year of service, i wonder when it would be my turn.........