Banh Bo Nuong (Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake/Pandan Coconut Tapioca Cake)

I know I haven’t been posting that much. I feel kind of guilty! I always take pictures of my food, post them on Instagram, tell myself I’ll post the recipe, then never get to it! Lemme tell ya, with a young baby to take care of, cooking mostly everything from scratch and keeping my Instagram account active, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and just… write. I’m even starting school up again on Monday. Time is going to seem minimal, but I will try my best to keep up with my posts.

Anyhow, A couple weeks ago my mother-in-law made banh bo from a prepared package of flour she brought back from Vietnam, the results were good. Then last week she made banh bo from a package she bought at an Asian store here I don’t know what she did to it but it was like eating plain old tapioca. She also tried to use the same package to make banh bo nuong, It was interesting, in a bad way. Anyhow, I told her I’d find a recipe and make it. She said I wouldn’t be able to do it because she’s tried many times and can never get it right. That’s something I really dislike, when someone says I’m not able to do something. I always prove them wrong, just like this time… I’ve proved her wrong. I searched and researched about making this snack/dessert and found a really great recipe. Mine didn’t rise as much as it’s supposed to, I think perhaps it needed to be baked a little longer even though after the initial 10 minutes at 350˚ and 30 minutes at 300˚ I added another 15, to make a total of 45 minutes at 300˚ (the oven at my mother-in-law’s is really small and old so that could’ve contributed to the non-rising factor). Mine still came out good, but hopefully yours will come out better!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups Tapioca flour
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) Coconut Milk
  • 1 bag Alsa Brand Single Acting Baking Powder, 11grs (use any brand you prefer but it has to be Single Acting)
  • 6 large Eggs or 7 small Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pandan Extract (lá dứa) and 1/2 bag Vanilla Sugar or use only Pandan Extract or Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds, optional

Directions:

Turn on the oven and preheat to 350′ F. Brush oil on the  baking pan and heat it in the oven on the 2nd lowest rack.
Sift the flour and baking powder together.
In a large bowl, lightly stir the egg and sugar with a whisk or a fork so that no bubbles form. Remember to stir just enough to homogenize the whites and yolks. Over stirring the eggs can cause the cake to be flat. Then stir in flour mixture, coconut milk, pandan or vanilla. Break up any lumps with the back of a spoon. Use a strainer to strain the mixture into another bowl.
Pour the mixture into the hot baking pan that is still in the oven.  You should hear the sizzling sound.  If you like sesame seeds, sprinkle some on top of the mixture. Bake it for about 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 300′ F.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until golden.  If your oven is not convection, bake it for a little bit longer. Insert a toothpick in the center of a cake to test for quick cake doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.

Turn off oven and let the cake sit in there for a few minutes before taking it out.  Let it cool for a little bit before removing it from the baking pan.

Chocolate Cupcakes Mmmmm

I went to a baby shower on Saturday and I thought bringing cupcakes would be a nice gesture. I used this recipe before and loved it!!! These chocolatey, heavenly, little cakes are very moist and scrumptious. The frosting is a chocolate butter cream recipe that I made up, but tweaked it a little bit at the end but that’ll be up to you whether or not you want to. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. 🙂

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 3ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (see note)
  • 1/3cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4cup hot coffee
  • 3/4cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
  • 3/4cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 6tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2large eggs
  • 2teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (optional)

Directions:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan
(cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

Frosting:

In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until light and smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and place over a small pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the melted chocolate to the vanilla frosting and stir until smooth. Add the extra unsweetened cocoa powder if desired.

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday, my God Sister, Calix, came over to visit my little family before we move back to Sacramento, which will be on July 12th. I had baked white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and she baked peanut butter chocolate chip the night before so we exchanged goodies! Her cookies were very delicious, but although they were soft I wanted them to be a bit more chewy. Since I am moving, I want to try to use as much ingredients from the fridge as possible. I had a 1/2 cup of peanut butter left in a jar so I decided to make more peanut butter cookies. Here’s the link to the recipe my sister used. If you like soft cookies but don’t care for the chewiness this recipe is for you! However, if you like a chewy cookie try my recipe below.

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 + 1/2 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

Beat together butter and peanut butter until well combined.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and mix just until blended.  Roll balls of dough in white sugar before placing on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 14 minutes.  Do not over bake, they shouldn’t get brown. They’ll look a little puffy and undercooked but they’re not!  Let the cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 16 cookies

Red (Wine) Velvet Cupcakes

I had been wanting to try this recipe for a couple of weeks. I just kept looking at the photo on gilt and imagining the velvety sweetness in my mouth. I had gone to target the other day to pick up a couple of items I needed and since I was already there I figured I’d try to pick up whatever ingredients I could for the recipe. This target had almost everything I needed, including wine; but, I didn’t feel like spending more than a few dollars for some wine I’d only be using to cook with. So I picked up a bottle of zinfandel from Trader Joe’s, only $3.99. Then I had to go looking for vanilla beans, I first stopped into Andronico’s but they only had a package that was 25 smackers! I definitely didn’t want to pay that much for something I didn’t know when I’d use again. I got home and called Whole Food’s, they had a few different packages ranging from $8-12. I picked up the cheapest one since this was a first-time-try recipe. It came with 2 vanilla beans but I only needed to use one. I’ll probably use the other one for creme brulee in the near future.

This is a layer cake recipe but there are only two adults and an infant in my household therefore a whole cake doesn’t make sense, so cupcakes it is! I divided the recipe by 4 to make about 10 cupcakes so we wouldn’t kill ourselves to finish them. The only thing I couldn’t find were the cocoa nibs, but I didn’t think they were all that important because it’s basically just garnish. The cupcakes still came out very tasty. 🙂

I have to say, it’s been about 4 days and I just had another one of these, they’re still extremely moist and delicious. You must try this recipe!

Here’s the Stella Parks’ recipe I copied and pasted from gilt:

Cream Cheese German Buttercream
Makes about 10 cups, enough to generously finish a 3-layer, 8-inch cake

I highly recommend making the buttercream before making the cake itself; the frosting will benefit significantly from a little refrigeration before use.

The average buttercream is 50 percent butter (or more!) but German buttercream, with its custard base, clocks in around 25 percent, making it rich (but dangerously consumable). And it’s not dissimilar to Red Velvet’s traditional cooked flour frostings (also known as ermine or boiled milk frosting), making it something that even our great grandparents would love.

16 ounces whole milk
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped, seeds reserved for cake
10 ounces sugar (1¼ cups, by volume)
1½ ounces cornstarch (6 tablespoons by volume)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
16 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

  1. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean pods (not the seeds; save those for the cake) to a simmer in a medium pot. Turn off the heat and set aside to steep for at least one hour, or as long as time allows.
  2. After steeping, remove the vanilla bean pods, using a rubber spatula to extract the thick vanilla milk from inside each. Return the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and yolks in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk about a half cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture—it will be thick at first but will loosen as the milk incorporates. Whisk in more hot milk until the egg mixture is fluid and warm. Next, whisk the tempered egg/milk mixture back into the pot of hot milk, putting on medium heat whisking all the while. Once the mixture starts to thicken and bubble sluggishly, continue whisking and cooking for a full minute more, then remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
  4. The custard may be cooled quickly by mixing it continuously in a stand mixer. If time isn’t an issue, press a layer of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate until cool.
  5. In either case, once the custard has cooled, use a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to whip it until creamy. Begin whipping in the cream cheese, one tablespoon at a time, until it has fully incorporated. Then repeat with the butter. Add the salt and whip a minute more.
  6. Refrigerate until needed. When ready to use, whip until creamy and proceed.

Red (Wine) Velvet Cake
Makes three 8-inch layers or about 42 cupcakes
Despite containing both “red sugar” and red wine, your batter will look purple-gray. Don’t worry! It bakes into a chocolaty brown cake.

12 ounces all purpose flour (about 2¾ cups if by volume)
2 ounces natural cocoa (½ cup if by volume)
16 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ounces safflower oil or other neutral flavored oil
18 ounces brown sugar (3 cups, moderately packed, if by volume)
1 teaspoon salt
2¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably freshly ground
scrapings from two vanilla bean pods or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
6 eggs, room temperature
12 ounces red wine (Zinfandels work especially well)
1½ ounces vanilla extract
1 batch cream cheese German buttercream (See above)

To finish:
5 ounces white chocolate, preferably in a block or bar
½ ounce cocoa nibs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and line three 8” by 2” cake pans with parchment rounds. Grease lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Sift together the flour and cocoa, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, oil, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds. Use a hand or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to cream the ingredients for 10 minutes on medium speed. Periodically, stop mixing to scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium low and add the eggs, one at a time. Continue mixing after each addition until the egg has fully incorporated before adding the next.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour/cocoa mixture alternately with the red wine in about three additions. Add the vanilla at the end. Shut off the mixer and give the batter a few turns with a rubber spatula to ensure a homogenous mix.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans (25 ounces each).
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The oil in the batter makes the cakes slightly more forgiving of over-baking, but try not to let it come to that. Bake until the cakes have puffed but will still retain a slight impression if touched gently with a fingertip. A toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs still attached.
  8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack. At first, they will have pronounced domes and a slightly gray-brown color, but as they cool the domes will settle down somewhat and the color will deepen. When they have cooled, run a knife around the sides of the pan and invert onto a parchment lined tray or cooling rack. Continue cooling until no trace of warmth remains.
  9. Before frosting, use a serrated knife to level the cakes. If you have found this step difficult in the past, refrigerate the cakes for 30 minutes beforehand, making them easier to handle and cut.
  10. Assemble the cake on a platter or cake stand, topping each layer with a generous amount of buttercream. Crumb coat by spreading a thin, smooth layer of buttercream over the tops and sides of the cake; this will prevent stray crumbs from flecking the finished layer. Refrigerate the crumb-coated cake for 30 minutes before applying the final coating of buttercream to the top and sides.

To finish the cake:

When I learned that Red Velvet’s traditional accompaniment was a boiled milk frosting, I suddenly had visions of royalty. You see, boiled milk frosting is also known as ermine, a name meant to evoke the fluffy softness of fur. Of course, ermine and red velvet are the traditional trappings of English royalty, and even today the Pope himself wears a cape of red velvet and ermine. I couldn’t resist the sumptuous connotations and created a finish for the cake that would give Red Velvet its proper ermine robes.

To do this, I dust the cake with copious amounts of white chocolate shavings and cocoa nib “spots.” The white chocolate shavings are so fine that the heat of your mouth melts them completely before they hit the tongue, leaving only a sweet whisper of flavor and no discernible texture.

To create this finish, grate 5 ounces of white chocolate with a Microplane or Parmesan grater and dust the top and sides of the cake until completely coated. It’s easiest to use a folded piece of parchment paper as a “scoop” to distribute the white chocolate as the warmth of your hands will melt the chocolate.

Scatter the cocoa nibs over the cake in a haphazard manner to mimic ermine spots. To make the nibs stick to the side, you truly have to fling the nibs at the cake; it’s incredibly fun. Try it.