Just Baked: Cream Puffs!!!

“Maybe  there’s no scientific evidence of desserts curing what ails you, but if you ask me, the jury’s still out on science anyway. ” ― Crystal Cestari, The Best Kind of Magic

Cream puffs are one of the treats Mom used to buy us when my sister and I were kids. Despite not being a frequent treat we received, I remember loving cream puffs so much because of the custard filling. I didn’t like the filling too sweet though. I wanted them just right.

When I eventually started working and had my salary, I used to buy cream puffs from a Beard Papa’s stall in Glorietta until one day, I noticed that the stall was no longer there. A few years later, just recently, I discovered that Beard Papa’s is reopening in Glorietta. This time, it’s not just a stall; it’s going to be a shop!

While waiting for Beard Papa’s to open though, I decided to attempt making cream puffs in my own kitchen. I looked for recipe after recipe until I discovered the recipe from Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph segment in Everyday Food’s YouTube channel. I also searched for the video on how to make the filling that they dubbed as the No-Fuss Pastry Cream. It was the perfect recipe for me because I did not have to think about tempering the eggs to make sure they do not scramble and all the “fuss” that comes with making pastry cream.

What I did find difficult though is piping the batter and the pastry cream. I watched a lot of YouTube videos where the baker pipes stuff out of a pastry bag without looking like he or she is struggling or exerting any effort at all! My hands and wrist hurt a lot after.

I was surprised at how much they puff up. They looked so tiny when I piped them out. I left them to bake while I piped another batch and ten minutes later, they were already big! I remember turning around to check my oven only for my eyes to almost pop out of my head when I saw how much they have risen.

I was very sure then that they were going to have this huge air pocket inside for the cream to fill. They were so light once out of the oven!

I may have gone overboard with some because I filled them too much that some pastry cream oozed out the other side. Nevertheless, I was so happy I finally got to make these! It was just one of the treats I would think about but not dare try. Not anymore! I was hooked!

Please do check out the links of the recipes I linked above. They really are beginner-friendly and taste amazing!

I still cannot wait for Beard Papa’s to open soon.

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A Merry Berry Breakfast

“One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast.”  -Robert A. Heinlein

Last August 21, my country celebrated two holidays: Ninoy Aquino Day and Eid al-Adha. We were actually hoping for Eid al-Adha to be celebrated on the 22nd like the rest of the world, I think but even just one day of rest from work is already very much welcome.

I took the opportunity to go through the ingredients I had at home and realized that my whole wheat flour isn’t gonna last for long. I needed to bake it into something despite my and my mom’s lack of fondness for whole wheat bread. Initially wanting raisin whole wheat bread, I realized we only had dried cranberries at home. So whole wheat cranberry bread it is.

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It has risen!

I got the recipe from King Arthur Flour and just simply tossed in a handful of cranberries. The ingredients I used after tweaking are as follows:

  • 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Himalayan salt
  • a handful of dried cranberries

I had a fun time kneading the dough using my handheld mixer with dough hook attachment. Eventually, I started using my hands to incorporate the cranberries into the dough. It looked so cute while it was proofing!

While waiting for the dough to proof, I decided to bake the frozen blueberries and strawberries that I bought on a whim. I discovered the Sunny Morning Muffins recipe the day before and just knew I had to bake a version of it! From the name alone, I was expecting the muffins to be as bright as the sunshine in deliciousness!

The ingredients I used after tweaking are as follows (2 batches):

  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (the nuts I got were salted already so I reduced the salt by half)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups chopped salted cashew nuts (the only one available at the time)

The muffins were fairly simple to make. You just combine all the ingredients and that’s it! No special method of folding or mixing. What took me long was filling my muffin tray (one that makes 24 mini muffins) and ensuring that each well will have enough berries and nuts.

For step-by-step procedures, you may click on the link to the original recipes.

After hours of baking, I had a large loaf of bread and about 5 dozens of mini muffins. What should have been the last dozen on mini muffins, I made into four larger ones.

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The whole wheat bread turned out to be really soft. It tasted pretty much just like plain bread; nothing extra special. The cranberries just added some tartness and sweetness to it. As much as I enjoyed making it though, I really cannot find it in me to love the texture of whole wheat bread when eating it.

But, the muffins! They were really, really good! They were soft but not mushy. The combination of strawberries, blueberries and cashews in one bite was awesome! The berries were not too sweet and were a just a tiny bit tart, giving balance to the sweetness from the sugar and the banana. Also, it was a good thing I used half the amount of the salt required due to the cashews already being salted.

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If anyone knows how to make whole wheat bread without the gritty texture in the mouth, please let me know! I’d be so happy to learn.

Just Baked: I Want to Marry You Cookies

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m not quite sure about that and currently, there’s no man whose heart I wish to worm my way through. All I know is that when I saw my cousin post about these cookies that she baked, I just knew I had to try making it too!

Well, that was three years ago, back in April 2015. She found the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine blog. However, instead of pecans, she wanted her fiancé to try them with hazelnuts. I am not sure why but maybe because he was more partial to hazelnuts than pecans? Judging by her post too, it seems as if he got to try it already before. Whatever! All I know is that they did get married. And, whether this cookie was one of the reasons he married her, I shall never know because my cousin is a pretty awesome woman anyway.

Okay, so back to the cookies. A little more research and I found out that this recipe was from Melissa Stadler. She entered the recipe in a contest by The Cooking Channel and eventually, she found herself filming for a segment for a show called, The Perfect 3, where she won the cookie category! Anyway, you can find her recipe and her story in her blog, Modern Honey. The original recipe though, unlike the one my cousin found, did not contain any nuts and called for less white chocolate chips.

Well, speaking of nuts, I didn’t have pecans or hazelnuts. I did have a small bottle of cashews though and I figured it should work. And, thanks to the gift certificates our boss gave out for a job well done a few months back, I was able to buy all other ingredients I would need without spending a dime! Ah, I love my employer! I did tweak a little bit though, depending on what was available in the supermarket where I went.

Oh! They smelled heavenly while they were in the oven!

Because I was making two batches of these, some trays of dough had more chilling time that the others. I found that those that chilled longer did not spread and brown as much as those that had less time in the fridge. Chilling does make a difference!

So, how did they taste? They were fantastic! Despite the amount of sugar and the chocolate chips in the recipe, they were not overly sweet. In fact, they were just right! Since I baked them longer than the minimum, I got cookies that were on the crispy side. Not hard like Chips Ahoy cookies but still with a crunch. Just how I liked my cookies!

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I do not wonder anymore why they are called I Want to Marry You Cookies! They were perfect! They also went great with a mug of milk!

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So, to give back to my team at work, I decided to bring most of the cookies I made to work for my colleagues to try. I hope they like these cookies as much as I did!


Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cashew nuts

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter until golden brown in color, then add all the sugars. Combine well and allow to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  2. After chilling, add the egg plus extra egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix just enough until there’s no trace of unmixed dry ingredients.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well to evenly distribute.
  5. Using a small ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets lined with parchment/baking paper, making sure to leave an inch or two between each cookie.
  6. Allow to chill for around 30 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven at 325˚F.
  8. Take out the cookies from the fridge and bake them for up to 12 to 18 minutes or until fully baked.
  9. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Just Tried: Restoran Garuda

“The taste of your life depends on the spices you used to brew it. Add laziness to it and it becomes bitter as the bile; put a cube of good attitudes into it and you will lick your lips more and more due to its sweet taste.” Israelmore Ayivor

On the same Sunday when I attended the workshop on caging crystals, I got to have my first Indonesian cuisine experience from a restaurant. I am not sure why I have never tried going to any Indonesian/Indonesian-inspired restaurant all these years. The closest I got to eating Indonesian food was when Mom made chicken sate (or satay) or nasi goreng at home.

It was not planned but that Sunday noon, Restoran Garuda was the only restaurant open near the workshop venue. Having left the house very early to go to church service, and with only one and a half hours from the end of the service to the expected arrival time at the workshop, I did not have the luxury of time to be walking around looking for a place to have lunch. I was also very hungry already.

But, unlike Japanese or Chinese food that I can order easily, I was so confused with the items on the menu. I was not sure whether I wanted to be adventurous, ordering something I am not totally familiar with or going for something that sounds safe based on the description. I was also wary because everything sounded spicy. I am very sensitive to spicy food! Thankfully, a member of the staff was helpful and directed me to the less spicy items on the menu. I ended up ordering the Nasi Goreng Spesial (Special) with Daging (Beef) and a bottle of Indonesian Iced Tea.

Nasi goreng translates to fried rice, very known in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as other countries such as Singapore and Brunei. It is delicious because it is infused with delectable flavors and spices. The possibilities are endless, I think, there being so many variants there are, depending on the type of rice, meat and other ingredients used.

Because of all the yummy goodness infused in it, it smelled heavenly when they brought me my order! And boy, was it a huge serving!

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In front of me, I saw this message that made me chuckle. This must be the motto of people who love spicy food! I may not love spicy food as much but I agree with the statement. Cheers!

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I was surprised with the Indonesian Iced Tea. Apparently what the word Tehbotol meant in the menu was that it was going to be bottled iced tea. Made by a company called Sosro, it turned out to be sweet, jasmine tea.

As fond as I am of the jasmine scent, I am so sorry that I never really liked jasmine tea. When I drink jasmine tea, it’s so sharp to my tongue that I feel like I am drinking water with diluted soap. It’s not the taste that’s as bad for me. It’s the sensation in my mouth that turns me off. I didn’t consume more than a quarter of the drink then.

Now, let me discuss the nasi goreng spesial. It was so flavorful that I cannot imagine how many yummy goodness-filled ingredients got put into it. The rice really absorbed the flavor, making it seem that the rice was not just tossed into the sauce/flavorings before serving. Rather, time was really spent to allow the flavors to infuse into the rice.

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I told you the serving was huge, right? Thirty minutes of eating made me notice that I have not even consumed half of the bowl. And I am actually a quick-eater! I was so full already and had to go to the workshop so I asked the restaurant staff to have the remaining food packed to go.

When I got home, I had the remaining fried rice re-heated to eat for dinner. There really was a lot left. You might not believe it though but it tasted even better than it did while I was at the restaurant! Maybe because the food had more time for the flavors to marry and get infused into the rice? I don’t know. I just know that there are food that taste better a day or two after they were prepared.

So far, jasmine tea aside, my taste buds had a party when I ate this nasi goreng spesial. It was exceptionally good! I should probably try out the other fried rice items in the menu and just specify to make the spice level ultra mild. Haha…

Please do try out Restoran Garuda! You may book a table via Zomato and Booky. I believe though that Booky has a promo wherein you can book a table and get Php 300 discount when you book 30 minutes ahead and reach a Php 1,000 minimum spend. So, it might be the better deal of the two. Remember that Booky gives a free trial upon signing up which gives one Php 1,000 worth of savings that you can use in the form of Buy 1 Take 1 coupons or restaurant booking discounts. Go check it out now!

Just Tried: Ajisen Ramen

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” ― Mark Twain

Japanese food is good food. I have no words to describe how much I am fond of Japanese food over American and Italian food. So, when I discovered this Japanese restaurant near my Mom’s favorite Italian restaurant, La Grotta Cucina Italiana, I knew I had to try going there for a meal!

Welcome to Ajisen Ramen! Originally from Kumamoto, Japan, this chain of restaurants already has branches in places like Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and many more. In the Philippines, it has five branches spread across Makati, Manila, Pasig, Quezon City and Las Piñas.

Situated in the corner of Plaza 100 Bldg., in Makati, I find that it does not call attention as much as the Chowking branch does, since it isat the corner of the street this building’s in. For me, that only meant less crowd and more comfortable eating time. True enough, there were not so many people when I went there for lunch.

I ordered shogayaki don and gyoza. To drink, they gave me what I think is barley water.

Right off the bat, I saw big pieces of onion. Oh dear. I truly do not like onions in my food. I spent a good five minutes fishing out the onion bits and sadly, having to fish out onions from my food always gives me a headache.

Once I had the onions out, I took my first taste of the shogayaki don and found that I quite like it. The special sauce they say they put in was not too flavorful for me to want to drink lots of water to cleanse my palate. The meat was tender, not at all chewy. The rice was not too sticky and not too fluffy.

However, what I truly loved was the gyoza. It was actually the first thing I was sure I wanted to order. The crispy bottom and perfectly steamed filling were so good and were perfectly complemented by the dipping sauce. I was not sure if it was soy sauce because it had a very light taste.

The stress from the onion situation was taken away by these heavenly pot stickers!

Except for the onions, I had a pretty good experience here. I do have to admit though that it’s a bit pricey here. I can get the same food from Tokyo Tokyo or Yoshinoya for a much cheaper price. Then again, those two are fast-food places and I probably should not compare Ajisen Ramen to them.

Will I go back? I am not yet sure. Maybe when I crave for ramen, I will. I am quite curious about their original white broth ramen. I hope it’s very good and delicious.

By the way, I just discovered that the little girl in their logo has a name! It’s Chii-chan! Isn’t she cute?!

She actually reminds me of the poster I saw in a Chowking branch in Legazpi, Albay.

Have you been to Ajisen Ramen? What would you recommend from the menu?

Just Baked: White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

“Count your cookies, not your problems.” ― Cookie Monster, The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life

I recently bought a pack of dried cranberries to put on my salad. After tiring of eating salad for a week, I wanted to do something else with my remaining cranberries. So, on a recent trip to the grocery, I bought a pack of white chocolate chips to try to make one of my favorite cookies from Starbucks—white chocolate chips and cranberry cookies.

It’s not the first time I made these cookies but I could not find the recipe I used before. I then searched for a new one and came across the recipe from Diane Abed from AllRecipes. The only thing I didn’t have in her list of ingredients was the brandy. I decided to just use vanilla because I was going to bring the cookies to work and one of my colleagues is pregnant. I have no idea if one tablespoon of brandy mixed in cookie dough and baked off will have any effect on her but I didn’t want to risk it.

When I make cookies, I normally use salted butter for extra flavor. When I made these cookies, I only had unsalted butter. So, I decided to add ½ teaspoon of fine salt just to help with the flavor.

img_7818.jpgThe recipe was easy to make with or without an electric hand mixer. I did use one because I got used to it already. I think it only took me 10 minutes to whip the first batch. With the size of my cookie scoop, I wasn’t sure if I was indeed going to yield 24 cookies or more. However, I whipped up 24 cookies just like the recipe said so I whipped up another batch.

This is the most vanilla I used on a cookie. One tablespoon! That’s why when I was baking the cookies, the whole house smelled wonderfully of vanilla.

I did not flatten the cookies after scooping them on the baking sheet because I thought they were going to spread. However, that wasn’t the case. They only spread very little so I ended up with small, thick cookies. That meant a they took a little longer to bake completely though. Maybe 13 to 14 minutes instead of just 10 minutes.

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They were so delicate after getting out of the oven so I gently took them out to place on a cooling rack. I did not want the cookies to steam and be soggy by letting them cool on the tray they baked on. Also, I had to use the tray again to prepare my next batch of cookies for baking.

All in all, I made four dozens of cookies! Half of them I brought to work for my colleagues to enjoy. They have known for quite some time that I bake on weekends and they were requesting I let them taste what I make. I got positive feedback and there were those who went for seconds.

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They were moist on the inside and a little chewy because of the cranberries. The white chocolate really goes well with the tartness of the fruit. No wonder it’s my favorite fruit and chocolate combination! Not that white chocolate can be considered as “real chocolate,” but you know what I mean.

Try out Diane’s recipe. I am sure you and the people you’ll gift the cookies to will enjoy them!

Mozzareally Good

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.” ― Avery Aames, The Long Quiche Goodbye

I mentioned in my last post that I was forbidden to eat cheese, except for mozzarella, because aged cheeses can contribute to migraine. I was sad about it because I really love cheese. But since mozzarella was still allowed, I was comforted since I could still enjoy my favorite cheese snack. Mozzarella cheese sticks!

My first try of this treat was at Marciano’s in Greenbelt, Makati maybe more than eight years ago. The outside was crispy and golden. Inside, it was heavenly! I loved it so much that I started looking for other places that sold mozzarella cheese sticks after Marciano’s closed shop.

I discovered Fried Mozzarella by The Tea Republic back when I would fetch my sister from her work to bring her to her PT sessions. She had an MPFL reconstruction surgery at that time and she needed to regain her full use of her leg. The restaurant was situated at the ground floor of the building where she used to go to work. Their version of the mozzarella stick was also very yummy and I loved the salsa that went with it.

I have long decided I will make my own version at home. So, I searched for YouTube videos on how to do it. On the day I finally decided to make my favorite snack, I decided to just wing the recipe but follow the concept:

  1. Slice the mozzarella into sticks,
  2. Dredge the sticks in flour
  3. Dunk into beaten egg
  4. Roll into seasoned breadcrumbs
  5. Back to the beaten egg
  6. Roll again in seasoned breadcrumbs
  7. Freeze until very hard
  8. Deep fry until golden brown

For my attempt, I just seasoned my breadcrumbs with salt, white pepper and basil leaves. I froze the sticks overnight because I had to leave for work already after I prepared them.

Because I did not have a narrow but deep frying pan, I had to use more oil than necessary. I also had to flip the cheese sticks so the other side will also cook and brown. I had a few leaks because the cheese was melting faster than the coating was browning.

Regardless, I finally made my own favorite cheese treat!

I paired it with my favorite Tostitos Chunky Salsa for a little bit of heat.

I know I was taught not to play with my food but I tried splitting one stick in half and checking how long the cheese was going to stretch. That’s the best part of it all!

First Attempt: Brazo de Mercedes

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” -Mahatma Gandhi

One of the reasons I made this blog was to document my attempts at trying new things and learning along the way. This means I will not only write about my successes, but also my failures. The goal is to always discover and to always do better next time.

Recently, I got to make my version of a big pionono, which is similar to a jelly roll cake. Since I was very happy with how it turned out, I thought of going for a similar dessert called Brazo de Mercedes.

Translating literally to “Mercedes’ arm,” it’s more accurately translated to “Arm of our Lady of Mercy.” This is not surprising since the Philippines was once a Spanish colony. And while this dessert seems similar to Spain’s Brazo de Gitano (gypsy’s arm) and the Swiss roll cake, the Brazo de Mercedes contains no flour at all. Instead, it’s a fluffy delight that’s basically a meringue.

The recipe I used was from Foxy Folksy and she included tips on how to make a damn good Brazo de Mercedes (some of which I did not bother following, tsk).

I started with my favorite part–the meringue. I got hooked on making meringue when I did my first attempt at Japanese cheesecake. I am still amazed at how egg whites could turn into this opaque, fluffy goodness.

The recipe called for five egg whites, 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar. It took a few minutes of beating until I got to stiff peaks. I did not bother with those lines/ridges traditionally seen in this dessert because I had no pastry comb. I baked it at a pre-heated oven at 180°C.

Mistake number 1: I placed the tray on the top rack. The meringue browned too much than it was supposed to. I guess the recommended baking temperature was fine had my oven not been an electric convection type. I shall lower the temperature next time and bake at the lower rack with an empty baking tray on the first rack for the first few minutes.

Next was the custard filling. Using the five egg yolks separated from the whites used in the meringue, I added 7oz of condensed milk. I combined them in a saucepan and went to the stove to heat the mixture until thickened.

Mistake number 2: The saucepan I got had too thin a bottom for our induction stove that has no notion of consistent temperature. In a matter of minutes, the temp shot up to 160°C and in seconds, my custard started to burn a little bit.

Fortunately, I did not burn the whole thing. So, I sifted the custard mixture to a new pot that had a thicker bottom to leave the few clumps that burned. What I did like from what happened was that it gave my custard a sort of caramel taste (think dulce de leche). I heated it until it reached a spreadable consistency. I added the vanilla after taking mixture out of the stove.

I got my meringue from the oven and waited for it to cool down. Then, I dusted the top with powdered sugar and flipped it over. I peeled the baking sheet/parchment liner that I used and spread my custard over the meringue. I love it when my Brazo de Mercedes oozes with the filling so I made sure to be generous with it. Then, I rolled the meringue like I would a jelly roll cake.

See the little spots of dark browning on top? Thankfully, it did not taste like charcoal. Like the custard, the browning of the meringue gave it a deeper, richer flavor. A few extra seconds would have probably burned the entire top, geez!

Let’s forget the browned top for a second and focus on the inside. Ooooh yeah! The filling should have been a bright yellow had I not almost burned all of it. Still looks yummy to me though.

Despite my blunders, I still liked it. It only took two days for us at home to finish the whole log! That being said, I bet that if I didn’t make my two mistakes, it would have been so much more of a hit!

I tell you, my Mom will not hold back from criticizing it if it really was bad. She is so hard to please when it comes to food and is not shy at expressing her displeasure when she is not happy. But, since she ate slices from it more than once, I am sure it truly wasn’t awful at all!

I am so excited for attempt number 2!

Just Baked: Pionono

“You just gotta roll with it.”

Another weekend, another baking day for me! This time, I shall be making pionono.

What is pionono? This is difficult to answer. You see, depending on where you are from (e.g. Spain, Philippines, South America, etc.), we may not be talking about the same thing. Pionono varies depending on where it is made. The common factor though is that it is said to have been named after the Italian name of Pope Pius IX, Pio Nono.

In the Philippines, these are small, Swiss roll-like cakes. I loved them as a kid and used to buy them at the Landmark, Makati when they still had Fortune Bakery. Today, it’s not very often that I see pionono in bakeries and I truly missed them lately. That’s why I decided to make my own.

Actually, this is already my second attempt at this because I did not document my first try. Half of the first one I made went to my aunt who came over to visit. Mom mentioned lately that she wanted to have it again because she did not get her fill the first time. So, I decided to make it for her as soon as the weekends came.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F. Separate the whites and the yolks of 5 large eggs. Make sure the egg whites will have no trace of the yolks.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding 30 grams of white granulated sugar. Add in 25 ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 25 ml melted butter.
  3. Sift 1/3 cup cake flour and 1/8 tsp salt and add to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in gently and stop once combined.66060928_unknown
  4. With a clean whisk/beater attachment to the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add 70 grams of granulated white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the egg whites do not slide or move when you tilt the bowl. This is the meringue.
  5. In three batches, add the meringue to the egg yolk mixture and fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix to avoid knocking all the air out from the meringue.66061200_unknown
  6. Line your baking tray with a parchment/baking paper and gently pour in mixture. Gently spread it around to get to the corners of the pan. Give the tray a light tap on your counter/table.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.66061312_unknown
  8. While still warm, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Then, cover the top with parchment paper. Get another baking tray and flip the cake over. Gently remove the parchment paper that was used for baking.
  9. You may either divide into four or six portions to make small, individual rolls or just make one big roll. Gently roll the cake into a log using the new parchment paper to guide it. Let it cool while rolled into a log.
  10. While waiting for it to cool, combine 1/4 cup of softened butter and 2 tbsps of powdered sugar. If using unsalted butter, you may add a pinch of salt just to liven the taste of the filling. You may just use butter or margarine too. That should work fine.
  11. Once the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the filling. Make sure to leave one inch on each side without filling. Then, gently roll back the cake into a log.
  12. If desired, you may brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

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When it came out of the oven, it smelled strongly of eggs. It’s not a wonder given that five eggs were used in making this treat. I was too lazy to make 6 individual pieces out of the whole pan I baked so I decided to make it into one big Swiss-roll like piece.

I might have been a little impatient because I realized that it has not cooled enough to keep the butter filling from melting. Tsk. Also, I have to work on making a tighter roll.

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The good news is, it still tasted great! It tasted exactly like the pionono I loved as a kid. Even Mom liked it too. She was even teasing me that when I was younger, she baked and I taste tested. Now, it’s the other way around.

It’s true. I learned how to bake from my Mom. We just used a stove-top oven because we could not afford an electric oven yet. Today, we still dream about a large oven and a stand mixer. Hence, I must work very hard to be able to afford these.

Anyway, there you go, guys. My go-to recipe for pionono. What’s the pionono like in your country? How do you make it?

Beating the Heat with Icelavie and Booky Prime

The first time I heard (read, rather) about Icelavie was a little over than a year ago. My friends from my former workplace promised ourselves we were going to treat ourselves to the giant cup of icy-cool goodness. Our schedules and frequent need to travel out of town made us forget about that plan.

IMG_7497Thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, we got reminded by that plan. Mark tagged us all in the post that started it all. I told them to push for it the following day. Unfortunately, when you raise ideas like that, you get teased to treat everyone else. Since I missed them so much and since we got informed that there’s a buy 1 get 1 promo in Booky Prime, I figured it wouldn’t hurt my wallet so much. So finally, we were getting those drinks. I made sure to download Booky Prime, or Booky for short, to be able to claim that promo. I also told my friends to make sure at least one of them downloads the app too so that we could get four drinks and pay for just two.

What is Booky Prime, then? Its website says it’s a membership program allowing a member access to buy 1 get 1 coupons monthly. It also allows them to get unlimited bookings to partner restaurants with up to Php 500 bill discount on top. When you sign-up for a free trial, you initially get Php 1,000 worth of savings that may be in the form of coupons to be claimed. Booky Prime’s app is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

IMG_7498Don’t be too excited! There’s a catch. When you claim coupons on the app, you only have 10 minutes to present it to the partner establishment you’re going for. Otherwise, you will have to claim a new coupon, the saved amount value of which shall be deducted again from your initial balance. So, make sure you swipe claim when you’re at the counter already.

Going back to Icelavie, it turns out to be a Malaysian brand that’s famous for their huge drinks. They currently have four branches in the Philippines: Circuit Mall (Makati), The Paseo Center (Makati), Glorietta 4 Cinema (Makati), and U.N. Square Mall (Manila).

IMG_7405We went to the Paseo Center branch and opted to get 2 orders of Tropicana and 2 orders of Fruit Paradise. For myself, I got the Fruit Paradise which is a fruit juice mix with a splash of milk. Thanks to Booky, I only paid Php 198 for all four drinks!

What makes Icelavie special? Well, aside from its really huge size, it boasts of its special kind of ice that does not melt easily. It comes with a cup holder with a string attachment so you can carry it like a mini gift package instead of holding that giant cup in your hands. If you got tiny hands like I do, the cup holder will be very, very helpful.

Look at how big it is! I could not wrap my hands around most cup!

I also cannot believe it was only Php 99 for that huge cup! The drink was very refreshing and was not too sweet. True to its word, the ice cubes they use do not melt easily. It took me four hours to finish my whole cup and there were still a couple of ice left! This is coming from someone who finishes a half liter of drink in 3 minutes!

Just when I thought great things were over, I found out that I can claim another coupon from Booky to use in the same establishment! I initially thought that I could only claim it once from Pase Center and that I would need to visit other branches should I want to claim the promo again. Amazing!

So what happens once you’ve consumed all your Php 1,000 free trial savings? You’ll have to subscribe monthly for Php 199. This will give you access to more than 16,000 new Buy One Get One coupons every month, up to P500 off your bill every time you book a table, and a free dessert every time you submit a feedback form. Plus, you get to sponsor at least three school lunches to a child every month through its partners, ARK and Gawad Kalinga.

If you’re a foodie and would like to get discounts from around 1,063 partner restaurants, Php 199 per month is already a great deal! Plus, you get to help put a stop to hunger where it matters most.

By the way, I got to try the Tropicana variant too the other day. It tasted like apples and lime. So delish!