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Seitan: Mock Meat (Mi Can)

If you’re on the quest for vegetarian options, you may be interested in trying Seitan, a meat alternative made from wheat gluten.  Seitan isn’t new; it’s been around for over two thousand years with origins in China.  With its mild taste, chewy texture and high protein content, it’s a great substitute for meat.  Like tofu, it’s really easy to season because it absorbs the flavors of the foods with which it is cooked.   The best part is: Seitan is a cinch to make at home.  The measurements don’t have to be exact.  The dough’s resting period can vary from 1-3 hours and it’ll be just fine.  In fact, I’ve left it in the fridge overnight and it seemed to be okay.  It was a bit denser but tasted just fine.  The recipe possibilities using Seitan are endless.  Once you master how to make Seitan, let your culinary imagination run wild and replace it with the traditionally meat-filled dishes.  In upcoming videos, I’ll share more recipes using Seitan and a few of my recipe creations.

Notes and Tips on the Recipe

You can season the dough if you’d like.  Replace the water with vegetarian broth for more flavor.  Optionally add soy sauce, seasonings or herbs.

I tried various tools to cut the raw seitan and the easiest way to cut cleanly is with a pizza cutter or a dough knife.

Use the cooked Seitan pieces within the week.  Optionally, you can freeze them.  Sometimes I’ll make several batches, divide them into smaller portions and freeze.  Then when I need Seitan for my vegetarian days, I thaw a small portion and toss into stir frys, noodle soups, etc.

Watch below for instructions.

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Ingredients

3/4 cup warm water
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup vital wheat gluten

Directions

Sift the vital wheat gluten.

Add warm water, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and stir to dissolve.  Add the sifted wheat gluten and stir quickly combining the gluten with the water.  Fold the dough onto itself a few times and work in any remaining dry gluten.  Knead gently for 1 minute working the dough together.  Place in a small bowl or container.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1-3 hours.

Cut dough into slices and then into smaller pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Drop in seitan pieces leaving space in between so they don’t stick together.  Boil until all pieces float to the top, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to colander and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pan-Fried Seitan

Heat a skillet over Medium High heat until hot.  Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and coated the pan evenly.  Place seitan pieces into the skillet leaving some room in-between.  To prevent the pieces from sticking to the pan, move them around the pan during the entire cooking process.  Cook each side until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

Yields: 8 oz

 

 

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Cream Puffs (Banh Choux/Banh Su Kem)

 

Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Every now and then you need a sweet treat that is completely decadent and indulgent.  Well friends, this dessert delivers!  Made with a light, soft pastry dough and filled with a gooey, sweet custard, these Cream Puffs are absolutely luscious!  These French-inspired pastries are not as difficult to make as you might think.  Below I’ve broken down the recipe so it’ll be easy to follow and shared some recipe shortcuts and tips.  The next time you need a sophisticated dessert with a some flair, try this easy recipe.  And when you serve these eye-catching Cream Puffs, everyone will think you’re a master pastry chef!  By all means, graciously take the credit! 🙂

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Keep an eye on the consistency of the dough after you add the third egg.  If it seems wet, add just the egg yolk and not the egg whites.  If after adding all 4 eggs the dough seems dry, add 1 Tbsp of water or more as needed.  The pastry dough should be moist and pliable but not dry.  Test by placing a dollop of the dough on a plate.  It should hold its shape and not ooze.  If it’s too wet, sift in a little flour.

After placing the puffs on a baking sheet, bake them right away.  Don’t let them sit long or the dough will get too soft.

The time-consuming part of the recipe is making the puffs.  If you’re pressed for time, simply drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet like you would drop biscuits or cookie dough.  For fancier, prettier puffs, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Another option is to bake the puffs in muffin pans.  The mini-muffin pans work really well if you don’t want to fuss with a pastry bag but want the puffs to be a bit more uniform.

If you’d like to make the Cream Puffs in advance, make the filling and puffs the day before and refrigerate.  Allow the puffs and filling to come to room temperature before assembling and serving.

Refrigerate any uneaten portions.  These puffs are best if eaten within 1-2 days.

Recipe Shortcuts and Variations

A shortcut for making the filling from scratch is to use instant pudding.  For even more time-savings, buy the ready-to-eat pudding cups–it doesn’t get simpler than that!  The instant pudding or pudding cups are super convenient and inexpensive and nowadays there are many more flavor options other than chocolate and vanilla.

For a lighter fluffier filling, add equal parts of whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping to the custard or pudding.

The traditional Cream Puffs have a vanilla custard but make it with whatever filling you like.  Here are some yummy filling options:

  • Fruit – Add a few spoonfuls of preserves or jam to the custard filling or add pureed fresh fruit.  Some tasty flavors to try: Banana, Strawberry, Cherry, Apple, and Pineapples
  • Butterscotch – replace the white sugar in the filling recipe with dark brown sugar
  • Coconut – replace half of the milk with coconut milk.  Optionally, add grated coconut flakes for more flavor and texture.
  • Coffee – add 2 tsp of instant coffee
  • Mocha – add 2 tsp of instant coffee + 2 tsp chocolate powder
  • Alcohol and Liqueurs:  Add a 2 tsp of sweet rum or brandy or add a flavored liqueur like Godiva Chocolate, Bailey’s or Kahlua

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Pandan Waffle Cones and Cookies, Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, and Orange Chiffon Cake with Edible Flowers.

Ingredients

for the Custard Filling
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the Puffs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet vanilla sugar (3/4 Tbsp)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4 large eggs

Optional Toppings
1/4 cup melted chocolate
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle boil over Medium heat and then turn-off the heat.  Measure out 1 cup of hot milk and set aside.  Leave the remaining milk in the saucepan.

In a separate saucepan, add sugar, flour, cornstarch, egg yolks and the cup of milk set aside earlier.  Whisk together combining all ingredients well.  Using a sieve, strain the custard mixture into the remaining milk still in the saucepan.  Over Medium Low heat, stir constantly while cooking the sauce until it thickens, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Turn-off the heat.  Whip the custard vigorously for 1 minute to remove any lumps.  Add the vanilla extract and combine well.  Transfer to a bowl and cover the custard surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Combine flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla sugar and sift.  In a saucepan over Medium heat, add water and butter and cook until the butter is melted.  When the liquid just starts to boil, reduce the heat to Low.  Add the sifted flour mixture and quickly stir together making a soft dough.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.  Spread out the dough and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add 1 egg to the dough and mix on  Low speed for 1 minute.  Continue adding the eggs one at a time and then mixing for 1 minute until all the eggs are added.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place tablespoonfuls of dough onto a large baking sheet or use a pastry bag to make the puffs.  Wet fingertips with water and then gently press the top of each puff flattening any peaks.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffy and golden brown.

Remove puffs from the oven.  Pierce each puff with a toothpick to release any hot air inside, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Use a hand blender to whip the custard filling so it’s smooth and creamy.

Cut each puff in half lengthwise but not all the way across.  Pull back the top.  Fill the puff with a generous amount of the custard filling.

Optionally, drizzle the puffs with melted chocolate and dust with powdered sugar.

Yields: 16 puffs, approximately 3 inches in diameter

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

 

Mini Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Mini Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

 

Heart-Shaped Cream Puff (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Heart-Shaped Cream Puff (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

 

Mini Cream Puffs with Chocolate Pudding Center (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Mini Cream Puffs with Chocolate Pudding Center (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

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Whipped Cream Frosting (Kem Tuoi Lam Banh)

Whipped Cream Frosting on Chocolate Cupcakes

Whipped Cream Frosting on Chocolate Cupcakes

This light and fluffy frosting is the perfect topping for cupcakes and cakes.  It also makes an awesome filling for roll cakes and pastries.  (Check out the Roll Cake recipe I shared earlier.)  Because it’s a favorite filling for many Asian desserts, this recipe definitely deserves its own feature post.  This is a really easy frosting to whip it when you need a quick topping to add some pizzazz to your sweet treats.

A few notes

As the frosting is mostly whipped cream, it isn’t as sturdy as the buttercream frostings.  Refrigerate the frosting until you’re ready to use it.  Once applied on cakes or pastries, the cream will hold up well at room temperature as long as it’s not too warm outside or the dessert is under direct lights.  Store any uneaten portions in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 packet unflavored gelatin (.25 oz or 7 gm)
1/4 cup water

Directions

Place mixing bowl and whisk in refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.   Refrigerate heavy whipping cream as well.

Add water into a measuring cup.  Sprinkle gelatine over water and let standard for 1 minute.  Stir until combined.  Microwave on High for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir making sure gelatine powder is dissolved.  Place cup in cold water and allow to cool, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Mix heavy whipping cream on Medium speed until soft peaks form (approximately 4-5 minutes).  Add powdered sugar and mix together for 1 minute. (Cream should start getting stiff.)  Scrape around bowl with a spatula and work in the unmixed powdered sugar.  Add gelatine and mix on Medium High for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to High and mix for another 1 minute or until cream is stiff.  Do not overbeat.  Transfer frosting to a bowl and refrigerate.

Yields: 4 cups

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Roll Cake/Swiss Roll/Log Cake (Banh Bong Lan Cuon)

Vanilla Roll Cake with Fruit (Banh Bong Lan Cuon)

I’ve had lots of requests for this recipe after I posted the Sponge Cake recipe earlier this year.  I held off on sharing this recipe until now because I was saving it for the holidays!  This roll cake is so beautifully elegant with its fluffy, not-so-sweet layers and swirls of decadent whipped cream frosting.  The wonderful thing about this recipe and why it’s my favorite holiday treat is the cake’s versatility.  Using just this simple recipe, you can make many different cake variations.  I share some different options below including my favorite absolute–Mocha Roll Cake.  So, if you’re in the mood to bake for the holidays, this is the cake to make for your family and friends.  Thanks all for your patience, even those of you who have sent me multiple emails reminding me to share the recipe…lol….  I hope it’s worth the wait and please feel free to share your results!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Do not allow the gelatin to congeal.  It should still be liquid (but not hot) when added to the stiff cream.  If you’ve let the gelatin sit too long and it’s jelly-like or even solid, microwave it for 10 seconds to return it to a liquid state.  Cool it again in cold water and then add to the whipped cream when it’s cool to the touch.

Remove the frosting from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before frosting the cake.  This way it’ll be softer and more spreadable.

This recipe uses a half sheet baking pan which is approximately 12 X 18 inches.  (Please note there’s really no set size for half sheet pans.)

Make a diagonal cut in the corners of the parchment paper to help it lay easier in the baking pan.

Make sure to spread the batter evenly into the pan and smooth out the top as much as possible.  Since the cake is thin and bakes very quickly, there’s not enough time for it to settle and smoothen and so we need to help it along.

Test the doneness of the cake by using a toothpick.  Another way to test doneness is by touching the cake very lightly with your index finger.  The cake should spring back indicating it’s done.

Do not over-bake the cake.  This will dry it out and then it will crack or fall apart when you roll it later.

The amount of frosting to spread on the cake is up to you.  The recipe below is plenty of frosting for the roll cake.  You may want to cut back on the frosting if you wish to have some leftover to serve on the side.

If you’re making the cake ahead of time, store in the refrigerator.  Remove from refrigerator 10-15 minutes before serving.  Cake can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week.  You can freeze the cake for up to 2 months.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like: Cotton Cheesecake / Japanese Cheesecake and Orange Chiffon Cake with Edible Flowers.

Ingredients

for the Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 packet unflavored gelatin (.25 oz or 7 gm)
1/4 cup water

for the Cake
1 Sponge Cake recipe
2 Tbsp powdered sugar for dusting the cake
2-3 strawberries
1 kiwi
1 small mango

Directions

Making the Whipped Cream Frosting

Place mixing bowl and whisk in refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.   Refrigerate heavy whipping cream as well.

Add water into a measuring cup.  Sprinkle gelatin over water and let standard for 1 minute.  Stir until combined.  Microwave on High for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir making sure gelatin powder is dissolved.  Place cup in cold water and allow to cool, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Mix heavy whipping cream on Medium speed until soft peaks form (approximately 4-5 minutes).  Add powdered sugar and mix together for 1 minute. (Cream should start getting stiff.)  Scrape around bowl with a spatula and work in the unmixed powdered sugar.  Add the gelatin and mix on Medium High for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to High and mix for another 1 minute or until cream is stiff.  Do not overbeat.  Transfer frosting to a bowl and refrigerate.

Yields: 4 cups

Making the Cake

Line baking pan with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare batter according to Sponge Cake recipe.

Spread batter into baking pan making sure to distribute the batter evenly.  Smooth the batter with a spatula.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Gently pull the parchment from the sides of the cake.  Allow cake to cool for 5 minutes.

Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter.  Dust towel lightly with powdered sugar.  Place cake on the towel.  Trim the left and right sides of the cake if they are uneven.  Fold parchment paper under and roll away from the cake.  Sprinkle the top of the cake with more powdered sugar.  Gently roll the towel and cake into a spiral.  Allow the cake to cool for 1 hour with the seam side down.

Cut fresh fruit into thin slices.

Gently unroll the cake.  Spread the frosting on the cake.  Add a row of strawberries, kiwis and mangos slices.   Roll the cake back up again.  Trim the ends and dust the cake with powdered sugar.

Yields:  6-8 servings

Recipe Variations

Mocha:  Add 1 Tbsp instant coffee, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda to dry ingredients and sift together.

Coffee:  Add 1-2 Tbsp instant coffee, 1 Tbsp instant creamer powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda to dry ingredients and sift together.

Chocolate:  Add 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda to dry ingredients and sift together.

Spice Cake:  Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice and 1 cup chopped pecans.  Replace vanilla extract with rum or orange extract.

Chocolate Roll Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting – see above for chocolate cake recipe.  Add 1 cup coconut flakes to whipped cream and combine well.

Dress up the roll cake by adding fresh fruit, chocolate shavings or dusting with cocoa powder.  You can also drizzle melted chocolate on top for a fancier more decadent dessert.

Feel free to share your recipe variations with me and I’ll add here!

Mocha Roll Cake | recipe from runawayrice.com

Mocha Roll Cake

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

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