Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cream Cheese-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes

I turned 40 over the weekend. I did not wake up to find extra fine lines on my face or new crows' feet at the corner of my eyes. It wasn't raining buckets and the sky wasn't a gloomy grey. On the contrary! The sky was the prettiest blue and the odd cloud or two were like cotton -candy suspended in the air. And me? well, I was 40 and fabulous! So sue me! The way I see it, '40' is just another number and you are only as old as you feel. Anyway, we picked Chloe up from a sleep-over party a little past 10.30 am and then we were off to pick up Aquilla. Yes, I'm allowed to say his name now. A Q U I L L A. My 14 year-old daughter, Chloe's boyfriend, that is. Chloe and Aquilla have been 'going out' for about a month, now. And on the 12th of July, on my Birthday, it was official. It was official because he finally got Ming's permission to date our daughter. The 12th of July was the day that the whole family got to 'bond' with Aquilla.

Since they started this relationship, Chloe and Aquilla have been THE topic of conversation among their friends and ours. There has been expressions of sheer surprise as well as hush-hush gossiping, snickering, glares of disapproval and of envy from people we know and people we don't as a result of this young relationship. A few genuinely concerned friends asked me if I approved of this relationship. 'Approve'? I rejoice in it. I celebrate it. What's not to approve? Love is the most beautiful gift from God and Young Love is no different if there is loving support, guidance and understanding from parents. To put it in a blunt way, your kids are going to have relationships with or without your approval. The only difference is whether they let you in on their lives when they have these relationships. Do the math.

So.. continuing what I was saying earlier on, we picked Aquilla up from his home and proceeded to have lunch in one of our favorite restaurants, 'Little Seoul'. Aquilla was understandably nervous at first, being around 'the father'- the more 'intimidating parent ' as he puts it. I had gone shopping with the the girls and Aquilla the Thursday before, and we had broken the ice then. Ming was 'on the other side of the fence' (being 'the father', not 'the boyfriend) for the first time too, and I could tell he was 'fumbling' , not knowing for sure how to handle the situation. He told Aquilla a couple of embarrassing 'home truths' about Chloe which did break the ice but got Chloe a little grieved. Poor Chloe. After Lunch, we grabbed some cakes and slices from David Jones then headed for home.

Once we got home, I put out some tea and coffee and got out the cakes and the monopoly set. It was bonding time. I would say this day spent with Aquilla put our minds at ease as to where this young relationship was going. Parenting and Life doesn't come with a manual and we are learning the 'operations' one day at a time. One thing is for sure, I want to be a vital part of my daughters' lives, and if I have to break the 'mold' of this society's 'norms' and 'values' - so be it.

Chloe and Aquilla

Now.. let's talk cake, shall we? Ever since I came back from my Holiday, it's like I've been put under a 'Bad Cake Spell'! Every new recipe I've tried has been less than passable. To be fair though, I must admit that I am a terrible, terrible 'Cake Snob'. Don't misunderstand, I am not making an apology here. If the recipe is not up to my standards, I absolutely refuse to share it. So now you know why I haven't been posting for so long. I pondered over and over as to whether I would share this recipe. It's not the worst recipe I've tried, neither is it one of the best. But if I am to continue to post, I guess I will have to stop being such a perfectionist all the time.

Paige, Chloe and Aquilla

There were a few reasons why I wasn't 'comfortable' with this recipe. First, there was no BUTTER! This recipe requires 'Vegetable Oil' instead. ( If this had been a Sponge,it would have been ok) This almost sounded vulgar to me. Then, the recipe required the inclusion of Chocolate Chips ( which I omitted and replaced with melted dark chocolate) in the cream cheese filling in the center. The texture just felt all wrong in my head. The other ingredient I didn't approve of was instant coffee. I substituted that with Espresso. And the frosting.. how can I put this,.. The chocolate frosting was made from cocoa powder, not chocolate. It tasted artificial. It was rich but not satisfying, like a mocha made with chocolate flavored syrup for example, as opposed to a mocha made with real Belgian Chocolate. Do you know what I mean? I went with the recipe just to see how it would turn out.For the benefit of those of you who would like to try this recipe, I have altered the method of hiding the 'surprise' filling, so that it will not burst out of the cakes like magma from a volcano.

Ming, Paige, Aquilla and Chloe, skipping stones

We went for a walk in the Picturesque area where we live after our game and then we sent Aquilla home. I had a Birthday Dinner with the entire family after that at a new Vietnamese Restaurant in Victoria Park and then we returned to my place for Birthday Cake. It was lovely to have my sister Jacq bake me a Birthday Cake, as you can see, she's the artist in the family. Life is Good.

My Birthday Cake made by my extremely multi-talented and Gorgeous sister, Jacq

Look at the work Jacq put into decorating the cake! The mittens and choc-chip cookies are intricately fashioned with marzipan. Notice my computer on the oven? My Blog page is on it too! Thanks, Jacq! muaw!

The Rode/Chong Mob

I must get my Darling Photographer in one of the shots at least!

Cream Cheese-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from this cookbook

for the filling

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted dark chocolate, cooled

for the cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Dutch -processed cocoa powder
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsps white vinegar
1 shot espresso (optional)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate frosting

8 tbsps unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 cup Double cream
a dash of espresso (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract

First, make the filling. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese until fluffy, scraping the bowl often. Blend in the egg yolk and vanilla and then add the sugar and melted dark chocolate. Mix well. Now, preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and line your preferred cupcake tins with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring jug, combine the water, oil, vinegar, espresso (if using) and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner one-third full of batter, then add a dollop of the cream cheese filling into the center before adding more batter on top to bring the batter to two-thirds full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes have puffed on top and are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tins.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the caster sugar, cocoa and salt. The mixture might look grainy or sandy and this is ok. Whisk the cream and espresso into the cocoa mixture and cook over low heat, while stirring to dissolve the sugar grains. The mixture should get hot to the touch but never simmer or boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Cool the frosting a little before putting in the fridge to thicken. Stir the frosting every 15 minutes or so . When the frosting has thickened, remove from the fridge into the mixer and whip very quickly to get the frosting fluffy. Fill the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle then pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes as desired.

Hey, Look at what's NEW in Perth! If you live in this Beautiful city and Love Cooking, Baking and Food in general, read on!

What is Food Lover's Link about?

The Food Lover's Link is the newest Foodie Club to hit Perth! It's a gathering of people with a common interest in cooking, baking and most of all, Eating! Anyone can join this link and it's aim is to create new friendships and bond present ones. Free Cooking and Baking demonstrations take place at these meetings followed by a tasting session. Eating out and writing food reviews is another activity of the Food Lover's Link. Members can volunteer to do cooking/baking demos if they wish and on occasions we may invite Guests to do this. Perhaps you have a recipe you want to share. Meetings are held on Saturdays on a fortnightly basis. Come along and join us, you might just enjoy yourself!

For more information on the Venue and time for the Upcoming meeting, e-mail Carol Rode - or Tasia Limawan -