Monday, March 1, 2010

The Week I Was Spoiled With Food (Part 2)

Blog Post Interruption: An Emergency Alert Message

Welcome to Ithaca's unimaginable snow storm!
Slushies are refreshingly delicious in a cup, but a complete (inedible) slippery pain when I'm late for class...
...And I wonder why school wasn't closed on Thursday.
Alright, regular blog entry resumed.

Last night, after yet another stay-in (i.e. let-us-shun-the-snowstorm) weekend feast - which I am about to share in a moment's time - I was flipping through the last blog entry I had written the day before flying back to school for the Spring term, and it was me sharing about some delicious miniature raisin-studded cream scones and homemade blueberry jam I had made for Aunt Rosalind's birthday...

...And I can't believe almost half the semester has gone by already! I remember dreading that departure day so badly thinking that it was going to be "the same crap, different semester." I was dreadfully homesick the first week of school, living in the absence of my family, my highly entertaining cable TV, the warm tropical sunshine, Singapore's fantastic fare of local food, and of course, baking.

But as much as I whine, sulk and moan the whole way through the departure terminal, I eventually find myself always having the wildest and most enjoyable time - and it just keeps getting better and bolder every semester. This final one, however, seems to be a tad bit more extraordinary than the previous three. And in all honesty, I would have to attribute that to baking. Despite living amidst the unearthly snow storms and arduous college workload, spending some alone time in the kitchen creating sweet treats is somehow my form of escapism. In some unexplainable way, I find it immensely soothing just completely immersing myself in the activity at hand, be it simply swirling a bowl of stunningly sweet cake batter, melting a pool of buttery dark chocolate, or watching plush cupcakes swell into beautiful airy mounds... Mmmm, definitely easy on the eyes...

I think the $6 whisk I bought at Wegmans last week was hands down the most satisfying purchase I made thus far. The first dessert I used it to prepare was a delightful tray of cheesecake-marbled brownies for the Sangria & Asian Tapas house party we threw on Friday night. I had a sudden urge to bake the night before during the witching hour, and while my housemates were fast asleep, I was floating around the kitchen turing ordinary cocoa batter into an intense chocolatey glory.
I swirled some cream cheese filling in and around the thick cocoa-laden liquid, and dotted it with some semisweet chocolate morsels I had remaining since I last made a batch of those banana cranberry cupcakes. Tossed the tray into the oven...
...Viola! A gorgeous batch of fudgy and creamy marbled squares that did turn out to be a hit with the party crowd. Not one was spared for weekend leftovers.
Gourmet Magazine, June 2007
The Ingredients:
For brownie batter-
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
For cheesecake batter-
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
The Directions:

Make brownie batter-
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
Make cheesecake batter and bake brownies-
  1. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
  2. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature.
So Friday went and Saturday came, and Ananth had prepared a Southern Indian feast for the six of us (my housemates, Ming and Yong Kai). The menu comprised of homemade naan, raita, murgh makhani, masala masoor, and basmati rice. I have to admit that it was a rather lip-smacking meal indeed. We paired dinner with a couple of bottles of Vinho Verde and Riesling - an almost perfect match. I decided to whip up a simple dessert to put a sweet ending to the weekend feast, and since Ananth made a special request not to have anything too heavy or chocolatey, I decided that my Peach-Pineapple Upside Down Cake (a la mode) would do the magic.
And boy was it magical. The baked fruit came out perfectly caramelized - sweet, toasty and tangy all in a single bite - and the cake was fluffy and light, and yet so moist... It was hard controlling ourselves from wiping out the entire plate.
Alas! We all gave into temptation - and that includes Shihao, who firmly insisted initially that he wouldn't be able to eat the whole thing. (Tsk, he finished it faster than I did.)

So that's all folks, to this yum-mazing weekend that I was spoiled with food. This definitely calls for a run at the gym.

What's Bakin' Next? Nanaimo Brownie Bars for my HSI finale event, Hotelies Sharing Information, March 2nd at 4:30pm, SR445. And of course, you're certainly invited!


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