Tag Archives: christmas

Stacked Matcha Cookies Christmas Tree

Happy Holidays! What treats have you made this Christmas?

Seeing as how my family was lazy to take our Christmas tree out from the storage room, I took matters into my own hands and decided to bake one instead. This one’s on my holiday baking list too!

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They’re layers of matcha sugar cookies cut out into stars of different sizes, and then stacked on top of each other to form a tree. Since I didn’t have star-shaped cookie cutters, I printed a clip art of varying star sizes, cut them out, and traced them on the cookie dough. I wasn’t sure how I was going to decorate the cookies, so I whipped out some matcha buttercream on the side.

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Matchachoco and I love baking with matcha powder. Aside from giving desserts a green tea flavour, you also get a natural green hue, avoiding the need for artificial food colouring. I used Laura Vitale’s sugar cookie recipe and added about a tablespoon of matcha powder to it. The cookies had a subtle matcha flavour which contrasted the sweetness of the cookies. It’s quite similar to the matcha shortbread Matchachoco and I baked together last year, but less buttery and a little bit more on the crisp side. They also hold their shape very well if you bake the cookie dough cold.

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I was a bit worried that it would turn out overly sweet with the addition of the matcha buttercream design, but turns out the cookies weren’t that sweet and the buttercream added some sweetness that the cookies were lacking. These cookies would pair well with some hot tea on the side.

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Hope you’re having a sweet time during the holidays!

– Ricelessasian

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Stacked Matcha Cookies Christmas Tree
These cookies have sort of a bittersweet taste because of the matcha. Of course if matcha isn’t your thing, you can use green food colouring instead 😛

Ingredients

For the cookies
1 recipe of sugar cookies
1 tbsp. matcha powder

For the buttercream
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk (used to adjust buttercream consistency)
1/2-1 tbsp. matcha powder (or add according to your taste)

Directions

  1. Prepare sugar cookie recipe with the addition of matcha powder. Roll sugar cookie into a flat dough and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. After refrigerating, cut out varying sizes of star shapes with cookie cutters or by using a template (I used a template by printing out a clip art of a star in different sizes). Refrigerate again for a couple of minutes if the dough gets too soft after cutting.
  3. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F. Since the cookies are in different shapes, the smaller cookies would bake faster than the bigger ones. While baking, gradually remove the smaller cookies once their sides have browned. Continue to bake until the biggest cookie is done (approximately a total of 10-15 minutes baking time depending on the size and how many cookies you’re baking). Allow the cookies to cool on a baking rack.
  4. To make the buttercream: Beat softened butter while gradually adding powdered sugar with an electric mixer until you get a fluffy consistency. Add a couple tablespoons of milk if the buttercream is too stiff. Add matcha powder according to your preference.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled, stack the cookies on top of each other, from biggest to smallest, using the buttercream as a glue. Decorate the cookies by piping buttercream around the edges with a star tip.

I had some leftover cookie dough, so I made some sparkly Christmas tree cookie cutouts on the side 🙂

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Christmas Kale Minestrone Soup

It’s that time of the year again. I don’t know about you, but one of the best parts of the year is the weeks that lead up to Christmas. There’s a lot of excitement in anticipation for Christmas; the environment is beaming with white snow and Christmas lights. You also have an excuse to throw holiday parties!

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In spirit of the season,  I decided to get these Christmas-themed pasta I’ve been eyeing on for quite a while now. Initially, I was waiting to get it after Christmas when it goes on sale, and use it for next Christmas. But apparently, I don’t really have that much patience…

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Since I’ve recently been into soups because of the cold weather, here’s a minestrone soup post featuring one of my all-time favorite veggies, kale. It’s sweet, tangy, and hearty from the beans and vegetables used.

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Put your hands up like you just don’t kale.

– Ricelessasian

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Christmas Minestrone Kale Soup (makes about 4-6 servings)
Adapted from Laura Vitale

Feel free to adjust the amount of ingredients according to your preference. You can add whatever vegetables you want; I just used what I had at home. Meatballs would also be a great addition to this soup.

Ingredients

2/3  cup diced carrots
2/3 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
1 can (796ml) diced tomatoes
4-5 cups of chopped kale
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
~1 cup pasta
1-2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

Directions

  1. In a cooking pot, cook carrot, celery, and onion with some cooking oil over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the onions have softened and become translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and Italian seasoning, and cook vegetables for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the broth and diced tomatoes. Allow the soup to come to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the kale. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until the kale has wilted. Add water if the soup reduces too much.
  3. Add the black beans and the pasta. Continue to heat the soup until the pasta is cooked al dente. Season soup with salt and pepper, and finish with some chopped fresh parsley. Serve with more parsley for garnish and parmesan cheese.

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Nutella Braid Bread

Done with this semester’s exams!

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This is something I’ve been wanting to try out, but I’ve been holding it off until the Christmas break. I have a list of other recipes ideas I’m anticipating to try, and hopefully I get through most of them over this break 🙂

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The bread didn’t turn out as symmetrical as I would’ve liked it to be, but I think it’s not bad for the first try! The shape reminded me of poinsettia and Christmas parols.

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I used the recipe Yoyomax12 used for her Nutella braid bread, but followed the instructions from Steve’s Kitchen. I only did three layers, instead of the four layers in the video, because I didn’t have enough dough. I got to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how the bread turned out! I’ve tried a couple of bread recipes in the past, but this is probably the first time I was impressed flavor-wise. It had a light, fluffy texture with a crisp crust. It tasted like something you’d buy from a fancy bread place, and it’s also such an easy bread recipe (although I can’t say the same about the braiding part lol).

TIP: Heat Nutella in the microwave first, so that you can spread it easily.

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The extra bread dough I sliced off did not go to waste! It was used for a taste test 🙂

Obligatory powdered sugar shot:

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Share the love (and the bread!).

-Ricelessasian

Pomegranate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Happy first of December! Where did the year go? It’s been a real whirlwind especially since it’s a busy time for us with school and other extracurricular activities. Ricelessasian and I have been a little bit MIA lately, but we hope to post more during the break.

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I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for a long time now – just waiting for the perfect timing to feature this holiday dessert. Recently, a new Greek yogurt cream cheese product was released in quite a few supermarkets and I was pretty intrigued to try it.

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Pomegranate fruits are lovely to consume this time of year; their peak season is in the Fall and Winter. They’re so beautiful and unique. Yes…the seeds are a pain in the ‘arse’ to remove, but the vibrancy of the red seeds makes them super festive to top on any sweet or savoury dishes! Research compiled by Zarfeshany et al. (2014) suggests that pomegranate consumption is associated with inhibiting cardiovascular diseases and lowering the risk of cancers such as prostate and breast cancer, due to their antioxidant properties.

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This Bon Appetit recipe was overall pretty flexible – you can bake the cheesecake or refrigerate it. It’s really up to your personal preference! Due to time constraints, I decided to bake the crust. I also opted to bake the cheesecake instead, leaving out the gelatin. Instead of making one 9-inch cheesecake, I decided to made two 4.5-inch smaller cheesecakes. The nutritional information is also included which helps you keep track of how much you’re indulging in. Typically when I bake regular cheesecakes, my limit is probably 2 small slices and then I give the rest away to my dear taste testers (aka family & friends) 😉

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I think this is a great and healthier alternative to regular or light cream cheese. However, the flavour was quite distinct. I’m a fan of greek yogurt, so the tanginess didn’t bother me too much.

It’s no secret that we love cheesecake! We featured it previously before and will likely do so again in the future. Matcha cheesecake anyone? 🙂

What do you think about greek yogurt as a substitute for regular cream cheese? Will you give it a try too this holiday season?

– Matchachoco

Christmas Yule Log Cake (Buche de Noel)

It ain’t Christmas season without some serious baking!

The idea of a Yule log cake has fascinated me since I got into baking as a hobby, and after watching Gretchen’s tutorial from Woodland Bakery, I was finally inspired to make it. After all, roll cakes are easier to make than layered cakes, and what fun is it to dress it up like a log!

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To make the Yule log stand out, I added edible cake toppers using Santa strawberries and meringue mushrooms. I also added some raspberries. The “Merry Xmas” sign was made with chocolate and white chocolate with freeze-dried strawberries. I like to have all the decorations in my Yule log edible, and what I like about them is that they don’t require artificial food dyes.

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Until now, I’m still so amused with the meringue mushrooms. The ‘dirt’ is actually cocoa powder. You can probably trick people into thinking they’re real mushrooms 😛

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For the roll cake, I used Cooking with Dog’s roll cake recipe as a reference, and substituted the matcha powder with cocoa powder. The cake turned out to be light and not too sweet, similar to those cakes sold in Asian bakeries. Did I mention that Matchachoco and I are huge fans of light Asian style cakes?

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This was my first Yule log attempt, and although it was quite time consuming to make, I really enjoyed making it. I honestly had a difficult time photographing the Yule log as it seems like I can’t find the perfect Christmas-themed background for it. I can’t wait to make another Yule log (maybe next year?), and hopefully by that time, I would have improved the Yule log baking and photography.

Happy baking and happy holidays,

-Ricelessasian

IMG_1217Chocolate Roll Cake
Adapted from Cooking with Dog

Ingredients

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F.  Prepare a 17”x 11” baking sheet with parchment paper.  Grease parchment paper with oil.
  2. Combine cake flour and cocoa powder, and sift them together 2-3 times.
  3. In a bowl, beat egg whites with an electric beater until foamy. Continue to beat, gradually adding half the sugar (1/4 cup), until stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and the half of the sugar (1/4 cup) until the egg yolks have increased in volume.  Whisk the cake flour mixture to the egg yolks.
  5. Fold 1/3 of the meringue (whipped egg whites) into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Do this repeatedly with the rest of the meringue, 1/3 at a time, until fully incorporated.
  6. Carefully spread the batter to the baking sheet with a spatula, making sure the batter does not deflate. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway, or until the cake springs back when it is touched.  Make sure you do not overbake or the roll cake will crack when you roll it out.
  7. After baking, immediately transfer the cake to a flat surface and cover it with another baking tray. This will prevent the cake from drying out and maintain its flexibility. Cover until the cake is cool enough.

Chocolate custard cream (used as the filling for the Yule log)
Adapted from Cooking with Dog

Ingredients

2 egg yolks
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup milk, warm
~50 g chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Sift together flour and cocoa powder.
  2. Pour about 1/4 cup of the milk to the egg yolks, and whisk them together. Whisk the flour mixture. Add the remaining milk, and whisk until fully incorporated. Strain the mixture and transfer to a sauce pan.
  3. Heat the mixture in a sauce pan, continually stirring, until you get a thick consistency. While the custard is still hot, add the chocolate and mix it to the custard until the chocolate fully melts.
  4. Transfer the custard to a shallow bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, with the plastic wrap touching the top surface of the custard; this will prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on the top surface of the custard.  Refrigerate the custard until chilled.
  5. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream to the chilled custard until fully combined. Fold the remaining whipped cream to the custard. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ermine Frosting (used to frost the Yule log)
Adapted from Yoyomax12

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add vanilla extract. Continue beating until most of the sugar has dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together milk and flour. Heat milk and flour mixture in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir the mixture continuously until the mixture thickens into a paste.
  3. Transfer milk and flour mixture into a bowl and let cool. Stir it occasionally to make the cooling process faster.
  4. Once cooled, add the milk and flour mixture to the creamed butter and beat them together.Add cocoa powder and continue to beat. The frosting should have a light fluffy consistency.

TIP:  If you end up with a runny frosting, refrigerate or put the frosting in the freezer for a few minutes.  Beat the frosting again after taking it out of the fridge until you get a light fluffy consistency.

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To assemble the roll cake, spread the filling all over the top surface of the cake. Tightly roll the cake. Wrap the roll cake with parchment paper and plastic wrap, so that it remains tight. Freeze the roll cake.

Once frozen, cut the sides of the roll cake to make it shaped like a log. Attach the sliced parts of the cake to the side and top of the roll cake, using frosting as the glue. Frost the cake with the frosting, copying the texture of a log. Attach the edible designs to the cake, and dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

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Instructions for the santa strawberries can be found here. Gretchen from Woodland Bakery has a very informative tutorial on how to make the meringue mushrooms. She used a Swiss meringue method for making the meringue, but if you don’t have a candy thermometer or don’t want to go through all the trouble of heating the sugar and egg whites, you can use the French meringue method, which is what I usually do when I make meringue cookies.

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Strawberries and Cream Santa

Merry Christmas! 🙂

In continuation with the Christmas themed baking, here are strawberries and cream Santas! I got the idea from seeing these somewhere online, and I thought that they’d make a cute decorative topper for the Yule log I made.

Wishing you a happy holiday,

-Ricelessasian

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Matcha Christmas Shortbread Cookies

It’s so fun to try out a new cookie recipe for the holiday season! To continue our Christmas-themed month, we were inspired to make some simple matcha cookies! It’s no surprise that matcha powder has become our latest ingredient to experiment with!

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We enjoyed this Martha Stewart recipe because the shortbread dough was very smooth and easy to work with. The cookies were rather rich and buttery in aroma and flavour, so the next time we may adjust the amount of butter we use. Also, in the future, we might opt to use premium matcha powder which may give the cookies a more distinct ‘green’ colour, such as the ones here.

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To decorate the cookies, we used chocolate melting wafers which are easy to melt and ideal for piping. If you want to make these cookies extra special, you can use multi-coloured melting wafers for the ‘ornaments’ on the matcha trees.

This is a quick and easy recipe that would be especially fun to make for a Christmas baking party with friends! Ricelessasian and I can attest that baking parties are the best kind of parties 😉

Hope your Christmas is filled with buttery goodness,

-Matchachoco

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Green Tea Shortbread ‘Leaves’
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, or granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, matcha powder, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the flour mixture. Combine until the flour is just incorporated and dough is formed.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and dust the parchment paper with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to ¼- inch thickness.  Refrigerate or freeze the dough until it is firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F during this time.
  5. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut chilled dough with cookie cutters and transfer them to the baking sheets. Chill until firm.
  6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are firm and barely starting to colour. Cool cookies on a wire rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight contained for up to 3 to 4 weeks.

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Decorative Icing
Full instructions can be found here.

Ingredients

White chocolate melting wafers
Yellow melting wafers

For the double-boiler method:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and place it on the stove. Let the water come to a slow simmer. Place a large glass bowl on top of the pot. The bowl should be large enough that it sits on the rim of the pot and the bottom of it does not touch the simmering water.
  2. Place the chocolate wafers into the glass bowl. Occasionally stir them with a heat-proof spatula as the wafers begin to melt. Stirring the wafers will encourage them to break down and melt completely.
  3.  Cool the melted chocolate for 2-3 minutes. Place the melted chocolate in piping bags and decorate the cookies. When the chocolate cools, it will harden again and must be reheated.

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Matcha Christmas Tree Cupcakes

O’Christmas tree, o’christmas tree…

It’s our favourite time of the year! For UCL’s first Christmas post, Ricelessasian and I decided to make our signature Matcha Chocolate Cupcakes…with a twist of course!

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Besides the natural green colour matcha provides, we love using it because it gives a subtle hint of tea flavour when used in small quantities. It’s a versatile ingredient that goes well with anything really, even mixed in oatmeal! I usually buy my premium matcha powder from Ten Ren Tea shop and it lasts for at least a year, which gives me plenty of time to make them frequently for birthdays or other events.

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To fit the theme of Christmas, we piped the cupcakes frosting into the shape of a tree and everything else fell into place. Honestly, half of the fun was going with Ricelessasian to Bulk-barn to buy all the neat little decorations – the tiny gingerbread men, the miniature snow-flakes and the red glitter! We had a blast shopping for what decorations would be on our ‘Matcha tree’ so much that we were giddy when we left the store!

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For the chocolate cupcake base, we used the same chocolate cupcake recipe from our Ghostly Halloween cupcakes.

For the matcha frosting,  the frosting has to have a fluffy, stable consistency so it can be piped into a tree. We recommend using an American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or Ermine frosting recipe. Omit the vanilla flavouring and add matcha powder 1 teaspoon at a time to the frosting recipe according to your liking. The frosting we used for the photos is Swiss meringue buttercream.

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To give the cupcakes a snowy effect, we sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

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We’d love to hear what you’re baking this holiday season! Feel free to leave us a comment 🙂 Keep posted for our upcoming entries this month and the exciting things that are store for us in 2014!

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Happy holidays and as always, happy baking,

-Matchachoco