Tiger Mom Butter

I like tiger butter, and few confection places really do it right. Most chocolate shops don’t carry it. My favorite local tiger butter from Oh! Chocolates seemed like it was out of stock as often as not, and since they moved out of Bellevue, it’s pretty rare that I’m in the neighborhood to pick some up. Sometimes you’ll find a fudge by the same name, but it’s certainly not the same beast.

Clearly I needed to learn to make this myself. I looked around online, and found a bazillion recipes that used almond bark and chocolate baking disks. I didn’t want some home kitchen knock-off. I wanted the real, top shelf stuff. The mother of all tiger butters. We’ll call it “tiger mom butter”. Because everything else is kittens by comparison.

The recipe here is the result of many iterations, and some well-fed coworkers. The quality of ingredients makes a difference. The recipe below has the short version, but I’ll talk you through the ingredients here. I don’t normally like brands in recipes but if you want to recreate it without too much thinking, for this one it’s helpful.

First, the base is a white chocolate, not an almond bark, and not “white confection chips”, which are basically sugar and oil. Look on the package for cocoa butter high in the list of ingredients. I’ve used Lindt and Ghirardelli bars, and both work well.

Next is the peanut butter. Packaged stuff varies a lot in how much sugar, additives, etc. To control for that, I used fresh-ground butter from dry-roasted peanuts. You can usually find the grinder in the bulk foods section at a grocery store. If not, Adam’s is probably your next best bet. The goal is to avoid extra sugars, oils and additives, and control the sweetness a bit. Sometimes the grinder is loaded with honey roasted peanuts. I haven’t tried, but if you do, let me know how it works out.

Sugar is sugar. Just pay attention to the powdered part, unless you like crunchy hard bits in your chocolate. Not that I would know anything about that. Really.

Finally, there’s the chocolate. Again, we’re paying attention to sweetness, and dark chocolate is not all created equal. A 60% dark Ghirardelli squares work perfectly, 72% if you want to taste more of the bitterness. I like the 72’s for eating, but thought it was too much in this one. If you use a milk chocolate, you’re going to lose some of the flavor contrast between the peanut butter mix and the chocolate.

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In terms of hardware you’re really going to want for this is a good instant read thermometer. Temperatures are important to make this come together right. I’ve mentioned this here before… I really love my Thermopop. It’s fast and simple. And faaast. Your also going to want a silicone mat or pan. I’ve tried various other options, but the white chocolate & PB wants to stick to everything. Silicone does the trick.

The Recipe:

Hardware

  • double boiler
  • silicone mat or 9×9 silicone baking pan
  • spatula
  • butter knife
  • measuring spoons & cups

Software

  • 8 oz Ghirardelli White Chocolate (2 baking bars) broken into small chunks
  • 2/3 c. fresh-ground unsalted peanut butter (peanuts should be the only ingredient)
  • 3 T powdered sugar
  • 4 oz 60% dark Ghirardelli chocolate (~10 squares) broken into small chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar into the peanut butter in a small bowl, and warm in the microwave on low power to about 115 F. Cover and set aside. This will make sure that you don’t just set the white chocolate when you try to mix it in.
  2. Melt the white chocolate. Since you’re adding a lot of PB, you don’t need to temper it. It’s going to have a softer texture. Tempering won’t really have any effect. Still, don’t overheat it. About 100 F is a good working temperature.
  3. Stir the peanut butter and sugar mix into the white chocolate a spoonful at a time, and mix well.
  4. Pour out on silicone mat and spread to 1/2 in. thick. Make 3-4 deep parallel grooves with the flat face of a butter knife.
  5. Melt & temper the dark chocolate. I just quickly wash & reuse the bowl from the white chocolate. There’s plenty of time.
  6. Pour into grooves.
  7. Drag a butter knife perpendicular to the grooves. Go deep. Think tiger claws (but don’t cut the mat!). Rotate 90 degrees and repeat 1-2 times until you get desired appearance.
  8. Move to fridge to set. Cut into square before completely firm.

Tips:

  • If using a silicone pad, set it on a baking sheet to make it easier to move to the fridge.
  • Work the chocolate in deep. It’s stiffer than the pb mix, and will crumble off if it just sits on top.
  • Don’t temper your chocolate in the microwave. Not if you truly love it. Here’s my preferred method, and it’s really not that hard, just requires a little patience.
  • There’s no need to rush between pouring the pb white chocolate and pouring the dark over it. The peanut butter mix will take quite a while to set at room temperature.
  • If you’re using a 9×9 silicone pan, you can set it on a baking sheet or cutting board, and tap it on the table a few times to get a smoother finish.
  • Cut it before it completely sets, otherwise it’s hard not to crumble it.

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PS: One more note from the failures department. Don’t try this with a product called PB2. It lacks in flavor, and ends up just tasting like a powdery mess.

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

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Milk tea is ubiquitous in Hong Kong. It uses a special blend of tea leaves from Sri Lanka (i.e. Ceylon tea leaves), which gives it a unique taste that you can’t quite find elsewhere. With the right kind of evaporated milk, this home recipe is the closest I can ever get to the ones in Hong Kong. It is very simple. I hope you will enjoy it, too!

Ingredients:

1 cup of hot water (close to boiling)
2 Ceylon tea bags (please see Direction #1)
1/4 cup of Evaporate Milk (please see Note under Directions)
1 Tablespoonful of Sugar

Directions:

  1. Place 2 Ceylon tea bags in 1 cup of hot water and Steep for at least 10 minutes. (You can find tea bags specially marketed as Hong Kong Style Milk Tea in Chinese supermarket, such as 99 Ranch. Alternatively, you can also find Twiling Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea Bags from places like Cost Plus World Market. I haven’t tried this particular tea but lots of bloggers find them very close)
  2. Remove the tea bags. Then add evaporated milk and sugar. You can also adjust these 2 ingredients to your taste.
  3. If you enjoy it hot, heat it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. If you like it cold, place it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. Once out of the fridge, enjoying it in an insulated cup is highly recommended!
  5. Enjoy!

 

Note:

If you have a water boiler (the ones that keep your water hot all the time), you can simply hit “Reboil.” You can then use the water once it is at 212F (= boiling water).

For evaporated milk, I used  a brand called “California Farms,” which can be purchased at PCC in Seattle area. It is very creamy and gives it a very smooth texture.

 

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

It’s been a very long time since we last posted anything. I finally got the encouragement to do some baking again a couple days ago. The original recipe was green tea chiffon cake from a Taiwanese cookbook. But I made a little modification to make it chocolate. This is a non-dairy cake and I like it a lot. I hope you will like it, too!

Iris

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Ingredients: 6 eggs, Kosher salt, cream of tartar, canola oil, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, and water

Tools: kitchen scale, 2 big mixing bowls, mixer with whisk attachment, 2 7-inch Bundt cake mold or 1 10.5-inch Bundt cake mold

Ingredients for Part A:

  • Egg Yolk                                6
  • Sugar                                     40 gm
  • Kosher salt                          ½ teaspoonful (~3 gm)
  • Canola Oil (or salad oil)  100mL (~ 80gm)
  • Water                                   120mL (~120gm)

Ingredients for Part B:

  • Cake Flour                           120gm
  • Cocoa Powder                   25gm (or green tea powder 6gm)
  • Baking Powder                  1 teaspoonful (~4gm)

Ingredients for Part C:

  • Egg White                            6
  • Cream of Tartar                 1 teaspoonful (~ 3gm)
  • Sugar                                     80 gm

To Decorate: Powdered Sugar

Directions:

  1. Separate egg yolks and egg whites into 2 big mixing bowls.
  2. Part A: add egg yolks into 40gm of sugar. Then slowly add salt, salad oil and water into it until mixed well.
  3. Part B: measure all ingredients and sift them into Part A. Mix well. It will now be a good time to preheat the oven to 340°F.
  4. Part C: Add cream of tartar into egg white, then beat it until rough bubbles. Then add 80gm of sugar in a few different batch while continue to beat the egg whites until it shows stiff peak (i.e. when you hold the whisk up, the mixture will hold its shape and not be affected by gravity).
  5. Add the mixture from step 4 into mixtures from Step 3. Mix it just enough so everything is distributed evenly. Do not over mix.
  6. Prepping the Bundt cake mold: using a paper towel, cover the surface inside the Bundt cake mold with a thin layer of vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco). Then dust it with all-purpose flour.
  7. Pour the final mixture into the prepped Bundt cake mold(s). Bake it at 340°F for about 40 to 45 minutes (if the whole batch in one Bundt cake mold, bake it at 300°F for 90 minutes)
  8. Once out of the oven, flip the mold(s) upside down and tap it on the cooling rack until it comes out. If using a paper mold, the cake does not need to be removed before cooling. Let it cool for at least 2 hours on a cooling rack. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve! (Please note the powdered sugar will melt over time. It will be best if sprinkled just before serving)

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Cookie dynamics

I recently read a post over on OZY by Anne Miller about how to modify your chocolate chip cookies to get various results. There was a good eats piece on this as well a while back. Anyone, just giving a shout out, since this has lots of good details:

http://www.ozy.com/good-sht/the-science-behind-baking-the-most-delicious-cookie-ever/6613

The post’s a bit old, back from May, but it recently seems to have made the rounds on social media again just in time for some holiday season baking so I thought I’d share.

Romancing the Bird

The title isn’t mine. This is an Alton Brown Good Eats classic episode that I trot out every time it’s my turn to cook the bird. It’s been a steady, reliable favorite. When it’s someone else’s turn, well, my friends all use the same recipe too.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe.html

Pro tip: Don’t forget to take the giblets out before roasting. Just saying.

Of course, all good food blog posts should come with pictures. But after years of making this, I’ve never been able to catch a picture of the cooked bird before it disappears. I managed to get this one after the carving, before the feasting, Maybe this year I can actually catch the bird…  🙂

thanksgiving spread

Ben

I want oatmeal too!

Iris decided to make another batch of her oatmeal tonight. It’s a great, healthy snack. That got me thinking about oatmeal too, but, well, the not so healthy version.

I’ve been itching for some chocolate no-bakes for a while. I have an old recipe that I’ve made many times. My step-brother and I used to make this after school before anyone else got home, and we would play a board game and chow through a whole batch in one sitting, then clean-up very carefully so no one knew we just pigged out.

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So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Chocolate No Bakes

1 1/2 c sugar

5 Tbls. Cocoa (we like equal exchange)

1/2 c whole milk

1/2 c margarine or butter

4 Tbls. of peanut butter (or a bit more, just b/c)

3 c oatmeal

Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Slowly bring to a boil stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Stir at a boil for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, then add peanut butter and oatmeal. Mix thoroughly, then quickly pour into a 9×13 pan, or make cookie drops. Let cool, or enjoy gooey and warm.

Yum.

Oh, did you want the granola too?

Cinnamaalicious Granola

Ingredients:

¼ Cup   Packed Brown Sugar

¼ Cup    Honey

1 Tbsp    Vegetable Oil

¼ tsp   Salt

¼ tsp   Cinnamon

2½ Cups Oat Meal

½ Cup   shelled pistachio

½ Cup   Dried Cranberries

¼ Cup   Chopped Candied Ginger

1 tsp. Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 300°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the brown sugar, honey, vegetable oil, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl, the stir in oat meal and pistachios. Spread the mixture on the parchment. There’ll be some clusters. Don’t sweat it, those are good bits. Bake until the oats are toasted and the granola is dry about 25 minutes. Stir about halfway through. Let cool.

Mix about a teaspoon of powdered sugar with the dried cranberries and chopped candied ginger, then stir into the granola mix. Store in an airtight container.