Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cornflake Cookies

Why cornflake cookies are popular during Chinese New Year? I think it's because the crushed cornflake on the outer layer of the cookies resembles golden flakes. It's all about prosperity :)

This is the last batch of Chinese New Year cookies I'm baking for this year. Surprisingly this is the simplest recipe. Original recipe is from Rasa Malaysia, but I needed a lot more cornflakes than suggested in the recipe.

200g butter
150g castor sugar
2 eggs
300g all-purpose flour
130g cornflakes (coarsely crushed, I used the end of a rolling pin)
1 tsp vanilla essense
30g corn flour

Beat butter and sugar till pale and creamy.
Add in vanilla essence. Mix in the lightly beaten eggs.
Fold in the flour and corn flour with a wooden spoon. The dough is moist and a little sticky but still able to be shaped using fingers.
Using a teaspoon, scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the cookie dough and roll it into the crushed cornflakes. When coated with cornflakes the dough is easier to be shaped. Roll it into a small ball and place it on a baking tray lined with baking sheet, then lightly pressed it to form a flat round cookie shape.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C or till golden brown.

The cookies aren't too sweet but it's fine to my taste. The outer layer is crunchy and the cookie inside is light and crispy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Golden Pineapple Roll

Now I understand why Pineapple tarts/rolls are sold more expensive than other Chinese New Year cookies. It involves 2 main effort - the filling and the pastry. After making the filling (pineapple jam) and the pastry dough, we need to shape the dough, using a cookie presser (for pineapple tarts) or pipe it into rectangular piece (for pineapple roll) or roll it into a small ball (for pineapple cookie). Then place the filling on top or in the dough and bake it. The steps are more tedious than the other cookies and the ingredients cost more too.

I got the original recipe from Fresh from the Oven. I made some modifications for a more moist dough so that it's easier to pipe and roll/shape it.

220g butter
360g all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
25g icing sugar
25g castor sugar
1 egg yolk, for egg wash

2 cans cube pineapple, drained and crushed
1/4 cup castor sugar
1.5 teaspoon cornstarch

Pineapple filling:
I used Ayam brand canned pineapple, the drained weight for 1 can is 245g. I crushed the pineapples using blender for just a few second, not too fine.
Using medium heat, cook the drained crushed pineapple and sugar until most liquid has evaporated, and the mixture turned golden. Stirring constantly using a wooden spoon to avoid burning. Taste, and add more sugar when needed. Add in 1.5 teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken the mixture.

Sieve all purpose flour and sugar into a medium bowl. Beat butter in a mixer until it turns light in color and fluffy. Add in egg yolks until well combined. Mix in the flour mixture with wooden spoon until just combined. The dough should be moist but doesn't stick to the bowl.

Pipe the dough into a long piece, place an adequate amount of filling on the dough piece then roll it. Apply egg wash on each roll and bake it at 160°C for 15 mins or until the color turns lightly brown.

I followed the step-by-step instruction for assembling the pineapple rolls here.

With this recipe, I made about 64 cookies.

It's a messy and time consuming process but the end result is worthy :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seated balancing

This isn't an original pose in Hot Yoga (Bikram Yoga). But I like to include it into my Hot Yoga session. In the heated room, it's easier to stretch, and the risk of hurting ourself is reduced. So this is a good time for us to challenge this pose. Stretching is not the crucial point in this pose, to be able to stay balance and stay still is the challenge we would like to overcome. We need to learn to ignore the heat, ignore the sweat, ignore the stickiness all over our body. Only when we can ignore the external factors, we can focus on our intentions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chinese New Year Butter Cookies

This is the second Chinese New Year I'm baking cookies instead of buying. Not only it's more economical, I enjoy baking and seeing people eating the end product of my baking. It has more of a 'sharing' sense.

I tried 2 different recipes and I think this is better. The cookies are crispy and it melts in the mouth because of the correct composition of icing sugar and corn flour.

150g butter
50g icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
140g plain flour
40g corn flour

1. Cream butter and icing sugar until the colour turns a little pale.
2. Add in vanilla essence and mix well.
3. Mix in plain flour and corn flour using a wooden spoon. Batter would be a little moist.
4. Using a piping tip, pipe out the cookie onto a baking tray lined with baking sheet.
5. Top with chopped cherries (for a merry look).
6. Bake at 160°C till the cookies turn slightly brown (original recipe suggested 15 mins, for me I checked on the oven from time to time until I get the desired color of my cookies).

I got the original recipe from e's joie. I doubled the scale of the ingredients so I can bake more cookies in 1 shot, and it works :) I get about 100 cookies for my modified recipe, each cookie about 1/2 tbsp batter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to stick to new year's resolutions

Many of us like to set a list of new year's resolutions for ourselves. It may be learning a new language, joining a dancing class, quit smoking or stop being a workohalic and spending more time with family and friends. But most of the time we either procrastinate or we stop doing it after a few tries. And another year is gone.

How to stick to new year's resolutions? These are what we can do.

1. Reminder
Set the time slot for your new activity in your handphone/Outlook calendar with beeping reminder at least a day before, so you do not have excuses on last-minute reminder and have not prepared for it. You can have post-it notes on your PC monitor, mirror, wardrobe, fridge; anywhere that is often visible to you but it's private.

2. Companionship
Doing it with your spouse/friend/siblings/cousins, so that you can motivate and reminding each other. Doing something new in a new environment with a campanion helps to relieve the fear, nervousness and shyness too.

3. Rewards
Rewards always increase motivations. Treat yourself to a spa/massage or buy a pretty dress to reward yourself for a month's hardwork of Pilates.

4. Sidetrack
If you are planning to quit a bad habit, find something else to do to sidetrack your usual habit. Whenever you think of picking up the packet of potato chips for your DVD time, reach for an apple instead.

5. Enjoy it!
Enjoy what you are doing. Nobody will procrastinate or forget to do the things they enjoy.

6. Most importantly, START it now :)