Oct 29, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate

I am allergic to Chocolates, in any form. Cocoa powder, dark sweet, semi sweet, very sweet, whatever. MC ask me when I found out I was allergic to Chocolates. I told her it was when I was in Secondary 4, after O level exams. My uncle won a lottery ticket and went on a month long tour to most of Europe. As he travel from country to country, he bought chocolates and send it to me.

I think I ate more than anyone could eat chocolates in one session. After that, I became hooked on chocolates. I started to buy more, ate more. When I started working, I developed serious allergies where the skin will just itch and swell almost like having Hives. Severe itching follows and I started scratching. The skin tears and it took me over a year to fully recover from it. I had to take steriods, applied creams and cannot wash my hands with soap or touch detergent.

The skin specialist told me that I can still eat chocolates, except that I had to ration myself. Down to 100g per month. Over time, I learn to live without it. So the craving literally stops there and then.

With Singapore getting more affluent, more people can now afford good quality chocolates and many are venturing into baking it too. I think everyone loves chocolates at some point of time in their lives. Except my hubby. He is a strange creature. Maybe that is why God found him for me. So I don't have to smell chocolates or use it to bake something for him.

But often enough, I had to bake chocolate cakes and other pastries for class, for friends and also for families. This is one Chocolate cake that was created for my supplier who sells the Ao Mori Silicone ware.

For this recipe, I insist that you use Valrhona Cocoa powder..it really brings out the chocolatey flavour, aroma of Chocolates. That is what it should be.


Chocolate Bundt Cake
Recipe by Gina Choong

250g butter(salted)
100g soft brown sugar
200g Plain flour
50g cocoa powder (Valrhona)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
100ml milk( I use Meadow Fresh New Zealand Full Cream milk)

1. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time.
2. Add flour, cocoa powder. Fold into egg and butter mixture alternating with the milk.
3. Pour mixture into cake tin.
4. Bake in 180 deg C pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Cool outside oven before decorating.

This cake is deliciously light. Smells of chocolate at every bite.
You can bake this in any size of cake pan or straight into cupcake liners too.
If you bake into cupcake liners, limit the time to 15 to 20 minutes, maximum

Oct 28, 2009


This is a frustrated post. Every other day, we have some one who would come into our store and 'vandalise' our displays or move things around. Some people find it fun to do such things. While others did it merely for the 'kick' thinking that they will never be caught for it.

What kind of conscious does these people have?

The most recent ones are often happening on Saturdays. Days when my two daughters helped out at the store and man it by themselves. While me and hubby had a good rest at home and goes there around 7pm.

There seems to be a lady with short hair*ya! we caught a glimpse of her dashing out immediately* who comes into our store every Saturday around 5pm to 6pm. She would always do the same thing. That is to remove all the nuts/dried fruits that are hung on the hooks, mess up the Konnyaku jelly packs, break a few pieces of Wine yeast and sweeps her hand over the many bottles of Bake King's essences and baking powders we have!

And yesterday, we had a teenager who came in and pouedr his drink into one of the containers which holds the plastic gift tag "Happy Birthday".

My brother in law, Willie, had to remove it, wash it and painstakingly wipe clean each tag before putting it back for sale.

The worst damage we had was someone cutting our packs of Valrhona cocoa powder and spilling the contents out on the shelf.

Why do people do such things? Maybe they find gratification from it? Or thrill, excitement ?

If I ever catch anyone doing this, I will hand him/her over to the police!

Oct 27, 2009

Smile ...

I had a class on cupcake decoration using fondant a week ago. Since we had time and leftover batter which we didn't want to bake into cupcakes, I pour the batter into a snowman pan and baked into a large cake.

This was done out of excess time we had. Showed the students how to cover a whole cake in fondant and do the minimum in fondant decorations. Still the cake was beauitful and everyone was smiling too. Just like Mr Frosty.

The big round eyes are made of Chocolate Fondant(Bakels). The rest of the fondant was just plain white fondant that had been tinted in various shades.

The base cake was a rich Mango fairy cake which was later sliced into two for the students to bring home. They went home gleefully happy.

Also this was done last month. Was supposed to teach Kid's birthday cakes but in the end, they wanted an adult cake for a change. So I showed how to do a simple cake using whatever moulds they have. For this flower, I use the mooncake mould.

Actually, with fondant, you don't really need fancy cutters or tools to get the designer look. Just a bit of imagination, creativeness, you can do some very good stunning effects.

Oct 21, 2009

Baking is a Science!

A few customers have asked me if I have a cookie recipe that mimick the Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies. Well, I don't. But it didn't stop me to make my own crunchy cookie.

This cookie was initially created for a Hindu lady. She told me she's Vegetarian. And I thought it meant "No eggs" so I had to improvised a recipe I had just for her. I did this No Eggs Chocolate Chip cookies for her. Only to find out later when she came to pick up her cookies "We can eat eggs, dear!"

So I baked a bit more, left it in the store for others to try. Many ask for the recipe as they say it tastes like the Famous Amos extra crunchy cookies.

I had a regular customer, R, while paying for her items at the counter, she couldn't stop munching the cookies..a box of the cookies was almost gone ! She simply loved it.

Here's the cookie for you to try at home. For this recipe, I INSIST that you use the 'branded' ingredients stated below for that maximum taste factor.

Enjoy! I think I will make another batch today for people to try.

No Eggs Chocolate Chip Cookie
Recipe by Gina Choong

250g SCS butter(salted)
150g soft brown sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Bourbon extract
100g semi sweet chocolate chips(I use Hershey's)
1 tbsp Valrhona cocoa powder
380g Top Flour (Prima)

1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl till liquid.*
2. Add sugar, vanilla extract and cocoa powder to stir till well combined
3. Add flour, choc chips to mix till it forms into a dough.
4. Scoop out on baking tray, press down to flatten it.
5. Baked in preheated oven 180C for 20 mins.
6. Remove to cool on wire rack before storing.

Oct 17, 2009

Yum Yum Tom Yam!

I tried hard..really hard. To encourage folks who frequent my shop to pick up baking. Some do, others find it easier to buy the finished product. But many who did pick up baking, somehow had to give it a pass when I baked the Tom Yam cookies for them to sample and handed out the recipes to them.

When they saw that they had to blend and fry the paste, many just gave up altogether. While they may found a new love in baking, they haven't figure out pounding spices and cooking it.

And many who have tasted my signature Tomyam cookies, ask me time and again if they could pay me to bake them a tub. So I relented. Because it was Deepavali. So far, 2 ladies have ask me for this. And baked for them. :)

Anyhow, here's the recipe for you to try at home. I only have pictures of the cookies in a tub because I didn't have time to take individual closed up shots.

If you want it extra spicy, just add more paste to the cookie dough. But I find that too much of a good thing may make this cookie lose its real taste. You are eating a cookie, not drinking tom yam soup. You should eat it and taste a hint of after taste of Tom Yam lingering in your taste buds. Giving that sensation of spicy, lemony hotness in your mouth!


TomYam Cookies
Recipe By Gina Choong

150ml corn oil
100g fine sugar
350g Cake flour
3 tbsp tomyam paste
6 pcs Kaffir Lime Leaves, shred

1. Add oil to mix with tom yam paste.
2. Add sugar and shredded leaves. next to mix.
3. Next add flour, mix to combined.
4. Scoop out portions using a cookie scoop. Baked in preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes. Leave to cool completely before storing.

TomYam Paste
Recipe by Gina Choong

Makes 200g
Ingredients A
15 large chilli
10 chilli padi
10 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of lemon grass
5 petals from the Torch ginger plant (sometimes called the rojak flower)
1 inch of galangal (blue ginger)

Ingredients B
100ml assam juice(use 1 tbsp assam paste mix with 100ml water)
2 tbsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
6 pcs of kaffir lime leaves(cut into shreds)

1. Blend all the ingredients A except ingredients B till smooth
2. Heat up the wok with corn oil and add puree paste.
3. Fry over low heat, stirring occasionally till its fragrant (about 15 mins)
4. Add salt, sugar, assam juice and continue to cook for another 10 mins.
5. Finally add kaffir lime leaves and turn off the fire. Stir to mix evenly.

This is the Kaffir Lime plant. The lime is that big speckled green fruit. This plant belongs to my neigbhour who lives across my flat. He and his wife are retirees and spend their time pottering round their little herb and fruit garden and whipping up delicious Peranankan dishes. I had my own Kaffir lime plant too but it just had leaves because I didn't have space for it to grow and blossom.

This is how the Torch ginger plant look like. These are easily available from the market. Occasionally, you may find this in our local supermarkets. All you need is the pink petals.

When the flower blooms, it cannot be use for cooking. But its such a beautiful flower when its in full bloom. I took this photo while holidaying with my in-laws in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Oct 14, 2009

I love my job!

This arrived from Germany late last night. It was like opening Christmas pressie in mid October. Although I had to pay for these, it was such to open it. Hubby stayed back with me and we tagged and shifted stuff around to put up the new toys we got to sell in our store.

Here's what in store now
We both loved this the most..its so beautifully packed. A Nativity scene box of cutters of 11 pcs. With Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus in his crib, a donkey, a palm tree, a king, shooting star and parts to form the Stable. The back of the box also tells the story of the birth of Christ. Such a wonderful gift for a friend who loves to bake ... I have only limited stock of this. Costs $48.

If you have my KC Privilege card, you will get a 10% discount for the above too!

Find out more here..

Oct 5, 2009

All in a Day's work!

An indian customer came by our store last evening..and tasted the Tom yam cookies I have baked for customers to sample. Basically, it was just to share my newest cookie recipe and to encourage them to cook the paste themselves to be use for baking the cookies.

But this lady wanted me to bake for her. She didn't have any sob stories for me. It was my hubby who ask me to do it. He said, we must make our customers happy.

And so I did..take this order of 7 tubs of cookies. I don't know what I am getting myself into this time. Luckily I still have a pack of frozen pineapple paste in the freezer which I have made for Chinese New year earlier this year.

This is all in a day's work..I started baking at 10:30am. Stopped at 2pm. Rested for an hour and carried on the last batch.

Pineapple tarts : 2 tubs..one open type, the other closed.
Sri Lankan Black Tea Cookies
Rose Petal Cookies
Tom Yam Cookies, also 2 tubs.
Chocolate chip cookies

all packed..waiting for her to come by to pick up this evening..!

Now I really need to rest.

Oct 3, 2009

the babies have landed

I have ordered this from Germany, under the Gunthart brand. Beautifully done. These sugar icing dolls. Together with the bears, they now sit pretty in our store.

Many people are curious enough to just buy one and nibble on it. Others are amused to find the bears so pretty and cute. While there are also others who have bought it to decorate cakes and cupcakes.

I envisage that the baby collections would go well with cupcakes for baby's christening or our chinese Baby's full month celebration..

Baby Blue collection for the little boys

Baby Pink collection for the little girls

Also these 2D roses are pack in 20 pcs for each colour. Check it out with our store. Limited stock.

The bears...and chocolate stars are delicious too. Though made of Royal Icing, it smells like the Bakel's Chocolate fondant.

Oct 2, 2009

A Tribute to a friend who inspired me

Today, I cried. Just found out through FaceBook and with my friend Dennis P that Chef Billy Cotton has passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Though we never met in person, we spoked often on the NET and whenever I post recipes at Chef2Chef.net forum, Billy never failed to encourage me and to inspire me. There are so many ways to love someone whom you never met, this is just one way. His way. Billy was an inspiration, to me, he was like a god father to me in all things culinary. He would encourage me, send me notes and stuff like that.

He would address me as "little girl" sometimes. In his own affectionate way, he lovingly called me "young sis". I will missed him terribly.

This is how the late Billy Cotton looked like. This photo is extracted from Facebook. The way he would have wanted all of us to know him..always in his apron, in the kitchen, whipping up and trying new recipes on the fly.

Billy was also a dog lover like me. When Beauty died, I was unconsolable for days. Billy would write to me and 'cried' with me over the NET. He would send me long and short notes every now and then to lift up my spirits.

Though we never met in person, we are like soul buddies.

Billy, dearest Brother Billy, may you rest in peace. And know that God loves you as you loved others and share unselfishly with total strangers. I will always remember you, and will inspire others like the way you have always inspired me


Oct 1, 2009

What God Has Promised

Yesterday, one of my cooking students , Miss L, visited me at the store. We talk a fair bit, of all things below the heavens. Of fun things, of food, of course. And of friends. And I was reminded of a friend I once helped who in the end, never appreciated or at least shown any to me.

I ask myself, "Is it worth it? You wanted help, and I gave it to you. Wholeheartedly, never questioning you. In the end, I get nothing. I wasn't expecting much or anything. But at least we stay as friends in this unforgiving world..but alas, you disappeared. Excuses, upon excuses.."

Miss L said to me :

"Gina, don't let this stumbling block your life. You are kind and warm hearted. Continue to bless others as that I see is what you are made of. "

And then I remembered an old hymn by Annie Johnson Flint(1866-1932) where she wrote this. Read the hymn below. And be encouraged, be inspired too.!

What God Has Promised

God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives thro’;
God has not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

God has not promised
We shall not know
Toil and temptation,
Trouble and woe;
He has not told us
We shall not bear
Many a burden,
Many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel,
needing no guide;
Never a mountain,
rocky and steep,
Never a river,
turbid and deep.
But God has promised

Strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.

God Bless you..Miss L, you bless me today. I am blessed to have good friends, people from all walks of life walking into my life. Reminding me each day, how bless I am.

And to all out there, continue to do what God has set you up to do. Be inspired and inspired others along the way.