Rat-a-tat-tat

Those of you who are aware of the Chinese Zodiac and the lunar calendar would know that this year is the year of the rat.

Yes, that’s right, the same rodent whose celebrity status shot up last year as kids and adults alike lapped up the delicious animation Ratatouille as if it was the best stew ever.

And it so happens that I am a rat. Yes siree. I’m one of those…

those pesky creatures who raid your garbage cans, and of course, I love cheese. But I’m smart enough not to fall for those silly mouse-traps.

Ah-ha, so now you know, I’m actually a rat blogger.

Hey, don’t give me that look of disbelief. If a rat can be a chef and run his own French restaurant, why can’t I have a blog of my own?

Aren’t you so biased! So what if Remy’s now a Hollywood superstar. Heck, I can have what he’s having. He’s just lucky!

Okay, so maybe I’m going cuckoo. Or maybe I’m just so fascinated by these rat pastries:

Yep, aren’t they super cute? They’re also edible. Which is a pity. I just want to keep them forever. My fellow rat cookie friends.

By the way, I wasn’t kidding when I said I am a rat. It’s just that hmmm I don’t have whiskers, I don’t have a tail and unlike your typical neighourhood rat, I’m not small… no no no… I’m tall, quite tall. All 1.7m of it. So maybe if I’m a rat, I’ll probably represent my town in rat basketball. Hmmm…. and I’ll be the most popular rat because I can reach that top cupboard – ya ya, I know where you all hide your goodies. All those delicious chocolate chip cookies, Tim Tams, jelly beans and Pringles… Don’t you pretend!

Ha, I see that, I see you rolling your eyes! Okay, maybe I can never be a real rat. But it’s okay. I think I’m glad I’m human. But it won’t hurt to be a cute rat, not unlike this cute little cookie:

Let’s give him a name shall we? Hmmm… Mr. Cat.

Haha. that’ll be really funny. No, that’s not funny. That’s lame.

How about Mr. Snook. Yes that fits better.

So about Mr. Snook – you see… some baker (from a stall at Old Airport Road I think!) was feeling creative and decided to create Mr. Snook and his merry friends. Then my neighbour (she lives next block) was so sweet and she bought a box of them rat friends and gave it to us.

My mum used to babysit her grandson Timmy.

Ah Timmy’s one adorable child. Very creative and very smart. He’s now 8. He likes to draw as well. And so when we were busy eating up Mr. Snook’s friends, Timmy decided to draw a portrait.

And here it is:

A portrait of Mr. Snook. Okay, it doesn’t look much. But hey it’s pretty accurate. Wait till you put Mr. Snook next to his 2D likeness:

Not bad eh? Okay perhaps the nose could have been pointier. But hey, it’s pretty good!

Haha… and I was that much amused. So amused that I had to take photos.

I wish I had the time and patience to make cute goodies like these.

Maybe I should try it out. When I have time. Oh by the way these rats were stuffed with pineapple paste. Yep, they were rat versions of your typical pineapple tarts.

In case you were also wondering…. yes, Mr. Snook and his friends are dead. They went to pastry heaven.

Timmy ate them all….

hahaha… okay I lied. Not all… But he did eat Mr. Snook.

Oh well, at least I have this blog post to remember him by….

R.I.P Mr. Snook.

Posted on 4th Mar 2008 in cookies, pineapple  |  11 comments

Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies

How big a chocolate fan are you?

If you love chocolate as much as I do, then I’m sure you would have thought about how pure chocolate tastes like. When I mean pure, I mean straight from the source. You know, the cocoa beans from the glorious cocoa fruit.

The last time I saw a real cocoa fruit was eons ago. I was at a zoo or a park and they had actual cocoa fruits. The guide opened one up and boy oh boy, you can really smell the euphoric scent. Well it’s pure euphoria to me of course, because I love chocolate.

So imagine my excitement when I got a box of unopened Scharffen Berger cocoa nibs from my boss. She thought I would probably put it to good use in my baked goods. So that’s what I did! At the risk of sounding totally nuts, I’d say that it’s the first time I’ve ever seen and used pure cocoa nibs and that box was like pure gold to me.

Okay, yes I like to exaggerate, so sue me 😀

But seriously, I’ve only ever tasted cocoa nibs in chocolate bars. It was really cool to actually have actual cocoa nibs to play with. So I got down to googling recipes that used cocoa nibs. There were a few, and most of them involved nuts, and cookies. That was perfect because I love nuts. I mean, how can a nutty person like me not love nuts? But that’s another story.

In the end, I decided to use this Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies recipe from Tartelette.

I was rather delighted to be finally baking again after so long. I’m sure you’ve noticed how my recent posts never have any new recipes or baking endeavours. No, it’s not that I’ve lost my baking ‘touch’. haha, god no, I will always love baking. I’ve just been too busy. And I need a new oven! It’s tiring to keep going to my aunt’s place when I want to bake. I’m going to save up and try to get a decent oven soon. As much as I treasure my Dad’s trusty Moulinex oven, I know I can make do with a bigger better one.

And so, back to my cookies! Yes yes, baked using my aunt’s excellent Brandt oven. They turned out great – loved the taste but I think it was a bit too crumbly. Too much butter perhaps?

Nonetheless, they’re great when eaten with coffee or tea in the morning

It is really intriguing how the taste from the cocoa nibs actually matches the nutty undertones of the pistachios. At first bite, I only noticed the crunchiness but as I ate more, I realised that the light bitter notes of the cocoa nibs actually balances out perfectly.

That said, all this reminds me of how baking is really a science and how fun it can be when you play around with new ingredients and learn how it works. And that Eureka moment that comes along when you marry two or three or four ingredients together and it actually works! That’s pure bliss. Yes, these are words spoken from a person who truly loves to bake and has an equal passion for consuming baked goods.

MMmmm…

Now these rock. Time to find other delicious cocoa nibs recipes. I still have some left. Or if you have a great recipe, do email or leave a comment!

By the way, Happy Lunar New Year to you all!

______________________________________

Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies

1 cup raw skinned pistachios, finely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tb. Cognac

Combine the butter and sugar, in bowl of electric mixer and beat on high speed until smooth and creamy (1 minute). Add the vanilla and Cognac. Beat in the pistachios and cocoa nibs. Add all the flour at once. Beat on low speed until flour is incorporated.
Form dough into 12-inch log about 2 inches thick. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. At this point you can freeze the log for up to 3 months.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Let cookies firm up on the pans for about 1 minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Try to save some for the day after, they taste even better 24 hours later. The cookies can be stored in airtight container for at least 1 month.

Makes about 2 dozens

Posted on 8th Feb 2008 in cocoa, cookies, nibs  |  12 comments

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