This year’s 14th Feb calls for a double celebration, Valentine’s day along with Chinese New Year.  The Year of the Tiger has been deemed as being more auspicious compared to the past one by local astrologers. I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all my chinese friends out there!

CNY gives me the opportunity of buying new ingredients I would otherwise not find on supermarket shelves. Sik Yuen had interesting stuff like preserved plums, sunflower seeds, dried mushrooms, nori/seaweed and many more. I could not overlook the traditional nian gao or gato lacire, a sweet brown cake made of glutinous rice that has to be steamed for no less than 6 hours!

Laziness got the better of me today as I abandonned my original idea of making spring rolls for something less taxing. Chinese cupcakes from my dear friend Cindy’s blog sounded perfect for a sweet start. I hope she does not mind that I reproduce her recipe here. I made only 7 small cakes and they were all gone at breakfast.

 CHINESE ‘SMILING’ CUPCAKES

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cups glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup warm water
Zest of 1 orange or coconut powder
Food coloring of your choice

Method:

  • Fill a quarter of your pressure cooker with water and hang your steamer basket above the water.
  • Place your moulds in the steamer basket. Cindy recommends using chinese cups she calls chia bi.
  • Bring water in the pressure cooker to a boil and leave it for about 10 mins for the moulds to heat up.

  • In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and beat well until sugar dissolves. I used liquid food colouring.
  • I guess if you use powdered colouring you’ll achieve the nice speckled effect as in Cindy’s cupcakes.
  • Carefully pour mixture into hot cups. I filled the cups directly without removing them from the steamer.

  • Close pressure cooker and steam for about 1/2 hour. Do not check on the cakes during the first 20 minutes.
  • This will prevent them from rising nicely. My cakes were not as nice looking as Cindy’s but very much edible.
  • For the original recipe visit Mijo Recipes. The measurements are given in weight [grams] instead of US cups.

After I was done with my smiling cupcakes… In case you are wondering why they are called smiling, the name refers to the cracked flower-like top of these cupcakes. I hope to achieve the perfect blossoms I see in the streets of Chinatown someday.

Well, after I was done with them I was itching to make smthing chocolatey. It’s been a while since I last did a chocolate dessert and I could think of no better excuse than Valentine’s day. I don’t really believe in the V-day tradition of roses, chocolate and expensive heart shaped gifts. But when it comes to food, I can always pretend and go along with the faked niceties.

V-day is indeed the best time to stock on chocolate. With sales in every supermarket you can be certain to get variety as well as interesting prices. What I had to rule out from my shopping list was definitely strawberries. My usual punnet of Rs50 was displayed at an astonishing Rs200 in a heart shaped box! Argh!

My molten chocolate cakes did not turn out with a molten centre afterall :S All thanks to an unexpected visitor I had to attend to during the short baking time. By the time she left my molten cakes looked more like squashed cupcakes but were nevertheless soft and incredibly chocolatey. I’ll put this on my try-again recipe list and hope I get luckier in my second attempt.

V-DAY CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

50g good quality dark chocolate

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1/8 cup caster sugar

1 whole egg, at room temperature

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tsp all purpose flour

Method:

  • Prepare the moulds by greasing with butter and dusting with cocoa powder instead of flour or icing sugar.
  • This prevents residual flour from leaving unsightly marks when turning out hot cakes. Tap out excess cocoa.
  • It is best to use heat-resistant cups, e.g. ramekins used for soufflé or crème brûlée. Pre-heat oven to 450 oF.
  • Break chocolate into pieces. Melt it along with butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high power for about 30-60s.
  • In a large bowl, beat egg, egg yolk and sugar till light & fluffy. Gradually add chocolate mixture to eggs.
  • Sift over flour and gently fold in till combined. Batter will be thin and runny. Divide batter between ramekins.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes or less if using a muffin pan. Remove from oven and invert hot cake over serving plate.
  • Stand for 10 minutes, then run a knife along sides to unmould. The sides should be set and the centre soft.
  • Dust top of cake lightly with icing sugar. Serve warm with whipping cream and strawberries. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe from Martha Stewart: V-day Ideas by Ralph Rucci

If  you have no one to share this with today, make it for yourself. Or save the recipe and maybe you’ll find smone to make it for next year! Share the food and spread the love 😉

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