Sunday, July 28, 2013

No Bake Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake 免烤巧克力芝士蛋糕

My boy turned 9!

14th July 2013
I just can’t believe my darling boy has turned 9!  Last month, he attended one of his classmates’ birthday party and his classmates had asked him to organize the same for his birthday too. He came back with this request. I was happy to support his suggestion and even promised to make him a birthday cake. However, his dad was reluctant with the idea of kids running around our house and the hassle of tidying up the aftermath. He later suggested throwing a small water splashes party at our golf/swimming club which was just 5 minutes away from our house instead. This win-win idea turned out to be a blast. Ray invited 4 of his close school buddies over and at the end of the birthday party; all of them rated this event as one of the best birthday parties they had ever attended. They gave a big thumb up for the great fun at the pool and the water guns we bought for each boy.

Frankly speaking, compared with bread baking, I was still pretty amateur in cake baking. But not to disappoint my boy, I needed to try my best and honour my word.  Knowing Ray loved chocolate and ice cream, I opted for the easy “no bake” cheesecake instead. I wrote to my good friend, Helen in Auckland for help.  She was the master that had taught me baking when I resided in Auckland. Her recipes were mostly idiot proof. Do check out the recipes that I attempted before, Lemon Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Moon Cake. I was thankful to her; she came back promptly to my request as she just did the same birthday cake for her daughter a month ago.

No Bake Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake 免烤巧克力芝士蛋糕
As you could see, the cake was not perfectly done. I had 2 failed attempts in the process of making this cake.  This was my first trial in making ganache.  I was hoping to have a smooth silky ganache but the cake ended up with bubbled surface and the ganache was not set enough to firm even after more than 3 hours of freezing in the fridge.

Later, I did some checking and realized that part of the reasons why the ganache did not firm up was possibly due to the un-boiled fresh cream. I should bring the cream to boil for a minute or more to help reduce the water content in the cream and to break up the protein strands. Emulsified sauces combine better when the amount of water is reduced. I then recalled that I was pouring cold cream into melted chocolate instead of boiling the cream before adding it to chopped chocolate.  That was the first failed attempt.
Chocolate transfer sheet walls
 The second failed attempt the use of chocolate transfer sheets to decorate the edge of the cake.  Again, I failed to get the chocolate to firm up to tear the plastic sheet out from the chocolate coating. Not to ruin the cake presentation and for the sake of photo taking, I left the plastic sheet around the cake and only removed it when we wanted to cut the cake. However, I was relieved the cake was not completely a failure. Hubby did a great job in piping words onto the cake and we got the cake nicely decorated with Ray’s name.

Initially, I was really disappointed with the cake, but when my boy told me the cake was what he liked most out of all the food served that evening. I was over the moon! With that statement I rated the event “Mission Accomplished”! :-)

They say “don’t judge a book by its cover”.  This seems describe well this occasion.  The frozen cheesecake did taste really yummy despite my poor cake decoration skill!
Delicious Chocolate Cheesecake

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Calamansi Sour Plum Juice 桔子酸梅汁

Let’s squeeze and Zest up!

Calamansi or Calamondin or Limau Kasturi (in Malay) or 桔子(in Chinese) is a hybrid of lime and orange belonging to the citrus family. Its size is much smaller than lime. Calamansi is best grown in warm weather and is widely found in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

One and a half year ago, at only RM5, I bought this Calamansi tree in a small pot from a nearby garden nursery and planted it in my vegetable garden. It grew healthily in the garden since then. However, it seemed like ages to see it flower and bear fruits. At the beginning of this year, my neighbour helped me to fertilise the plant with fertiliser that was supposed to encourage plants to flower. After this application, the plant still did not flower as much as we anticipated. It only produced a few flowers and I only managed to harvest one fruit at the end. L
I was kind of disappointed but nevertheless I continued watering it and twice a month applied normal poultry manure fertiliser. Finally, a month ago, we were overwhelmed to see it flowered and produced abundant fruits!  
Calamansi Tree life cycle

 While writing this post I did some research on Calamansi tree. Then only I realised Calamansi tree typically takes 2 years after planting to fruit. This fact, matched exactly with the timing of my tree, which has been nearly 2 years since I planted it.  It’s the time for it to flower and fruit.
Calamansi is one of the most common citrus used in Southeast Asian cuisines. In Malaysia, Calamansi (Limau Kasturi) juice is one of the key ingredients added in Sambal belacan and used in Nyonya Food. Other than using its acidity as a natural preservative additive to food, it is also great for making drinks.

Calamansi juice, as a drink, makes one of the best thirst-quenchers. It is best to consume during a heat wave. Even though Calamansi juice tastes acidic and sour but when consumed, they are alkalizing to the stomach, which helps in weight loss and detoxification.  Similar to its citrus family members, Calamansi is rich in vitamin C too and is great for skin whitening.

 Seeing the abundant fruits on the tree, I couldn’t wait to harvest them to make one of my favourite fruit juices which I often order when we dine out.  It’s called Calamansi sour plum juice.

Calamansi juice is one of the popular beverages that is easily available in Malaysia eatery shop.  It is very soothing to the throat, quench thirst and a great remedy for sore throat. This drink also helps digestion and is known for relieving the symptoms of gout.  So, if you happen to get them at your local veggie shop, do give them a squeeze and drink up! It’s a great substitute for lemonade!  
Calamansi Sour Plum Juice 桔子酸梅汁


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