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 -


Haley said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)

eatme_delicious said...

Happy belated birthday! Sorry you didn't love this cake but it looks beautiful and so very tasty.

Dwiana P said...

Hi Carol, what a great vacation you just had. Everything look gorgeous, you, food and a news about foodie link.
Happy belated B'day Girl! GBU

Anonymous said...

Hey Auntie...

Happy belated birthday... Sorry, I missed your special day. :-)
I am very blessed to know you as a good role model of a mother :-)

Wishing you the very best! God has His best plan for you and your family!!

God bless you,

breadpitt said...

hey carol , sorry to greed u belated happy birthday ya. and please do send
regard for me to ur husband and 2 loveyly daugther.

SIG said...

A belated happy birthday dearest Carol. :* The 'boyfriend' is very cute. They look so matching. And I absolutely love love love your birthday cake. So talented your sis is. And I love that cream cheese-stuffed chocolate cupcakes.

Daniel Indradjaja said...


10000000000000000x apologies for missing your 40th. Let me make it up by saying that you don't look a day over 30. ;-)

Well, as a fellow 40 year old, let me welcome you to the club. I'm glad I have a friend. God bless you with tons and tons of blessing.

Dee said...

Happy belated birthday, Carol! If you're 40, then it definitely is fabulous! The cupcakes are gorgeous, and too decadent to be allowed in my household
:( We're trying to give our hearts a break for a change... it's sooo hard!

Annette said...

Happy birthday Carol! I'm glad you had such a wonderful time. Aquilla looks like a fine young man -- please tell him that he's lucky to be dating your gorgeous Chloe. And I think it's fantastic that you guys are embracing young love. I wish my folks did -- it would have saved them such heartache :D And one more thing: you don't look a day over 35. Many happy returns from Mervin, me and our brood :)

thwany said...

happy belated carol! i'm glad to hear that you had such an enjoyable and great birthday.

and i must say, you're definitely a cool mom in my book. your family looks beautiful and i must say, aquilla and your daughter look like such a handsome couple.

Ming the Merciless said...

Happy 40th Birthday! Here's wishing you a super wonderful next 40 years. Your sister is indeed talented. I did notice the laptop on top of the oven before you mentioned it. And I love that she incorporated blogging & baking on the cake.

It's so refreshing to see parents who are supportive of their children's adventure into adulthood. Young love is the best love of all because there is no baggage and everything is so simple.

Sylvia said...

40 ??!!! No way!!! you look like your girls.Happy belated birthday, Carol. The cake is fabulous, your sister is an artist,and the cupcakes as well

li said...

hi carol,
first up, happy belated birthday! the cake your sister made is lovely.
the little cakes you made look fantastic. i am sure they kept very moist, light and soft even straight out of the fridge. the reason for that is the veg oil -- cakes/muffins baked with butter (solid/melted) usually result in a denser, crumble-lier and harder texture. its to do with the melting point of the fat.
am very interested in this food social club you mentioned. i will sign up and hope to meet you soon.
by the way, thanks for stopping by kitchen musings. what a great coincidence we both live in perth!

Big Boys Oven said...

HAd been really busy and dont have much time doing anything lol! great to read your post so full of life! speak soon! . . . sunny & sid

Y said...

Beautiful cupcakes! and Happy belated Birthday. Your birthday cake looks awesome. What is that stove/computer (?) made from?

Joy said...

Carol, my friend, it's been a while. I hope that you have been well. This post however says to me that you are happy.

So many things have happened in the last few months (a few sad ones), and I have not blogged at all - except for my daily photo blog.

All your recipes look delish and I'm trying to get back into baking myself. Last Sunday I made pineapple upside down cake and it made me smile because it reminded me of myself when I was much younger.

Keep safe,
A Pinay In England
Norwich Daily Photo

Rafe Totengco said...

40 is the new 30. love the birthday cake!

Ashley said...

The most sincere birthday wishes to you, Carol and I love the way you embrace not only Chloe's relationship, but also a recipe without butter!
Sounds like all is well. We are back on the blogosphere after a move to our new loft, which we are in love with. New blogs are coming, and hopefully new travels as well :)

Nora B. said...

A Happy Belated Birthday! Its sounded like you had such a special day with your family and the new "addition" ;-)

Parenting is not a perfect formula and it's wonderful how realistic your attitude is and how open you are with your kids.

I hope that you've had a terrific start to 40 :-)

xx Nora

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, I came across your blog on cyberspace and I just wanted to say hi! I love the food photography on your blog and enjoyed reading a few of your blog entries. You seem like a cool mum (my parents were the typical overprotective Asian parents). I'm expecting my first baby but I hope to be a "cool" mum! :)

Dee at Sweet Scarlett said...

I Guess my 1st visit is in ur bday happy bday then! by the way i just come up and suddenly fall in love with your blog.. Its a beautiful blog.nice photos!ure such a talented person! ive allready linked ur site so it will be easier for me to enjoy ur food anytime i want...:-)) anyway...sorry for my bad english, im still learning.

Angie said...

Happy birthday! 40 is just a number... you're as young as you feel! Which is probably why my old parish priest is actually 30 when he's about 60-70 years old. haha

Good luck with the We Love Food Club, but you're always welcome to join the Wandering Gourmet Club's activities any time. I'm actually back in the city now, as you can probably tell since I'm actually blogging again. ;)

Once again, happy 40th birthday and hope you enjoyed every morsel of that delicious looking cake!

Elizabeth said...

Oh wow, those cupcakes look just incredible!

sarah the baker yoon said...

hi! thanks for letting me know about those cupcake liners! but i don't think i'd be able to find them anywhere in canada.. oh well. :P
AND about the comment thing, you can actually change a feature on the settings that send emails to you whenever you get a comment! they're pretty handy, actually! if you go to settings > comments.. go to the bottom of the page and they have a comment notification email section. and there they will send you a notification! :)

hope that helps.

Jules said...

Hi Carol!
Wow, I am going to need more time to look through all the things you have posted on. But just on this post, well done girl! Great to see your delicious cooking making its way into the blogs and from there into the tummies of lots of people!! I am just getting into blogger, so you will probably hear more from!!
luv Julia PS (cousin John sends his love too)

crunchLin said...

those look so fun and delicious! I love the creative look!
I hope all is well with chloe & Aquilla! && happy (very belated) birthday!

daphne said...

That looks wonderful-even though it uses oil rather than butter! =) Happy belated birthday and it's so nice to see a family bond-together with Chloe's bf! Very nice. =)

Hungry Hamster said...

Beautiful photos! Really need to learn from you!

jen laceda said...

i can't wait for more of your posts! you are indeed a very talented person!!! love, love, love the cake!

Jade said...

Hi Carol,

How are you getting on? Have not seen any post lately. Must be busy huh? Take care and look forward to your postings again (",)

angela said...

Hi Carol, M ur regular visitor to ur blog too...

Noticed dat u haven been updating... I hope everything's fine over at ur end...

Do write soon coz everyone miss ya...

avesta said...

These little cakes are just perfect. I love that you made them in a different shape. I will definately try these out. Happy Bday!

ibnu marzuki al firdaus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kok said...

I'm very very sorry for the extremely late birthday wishes! Happy Belated Birthday!

And that birthday cake is just awesome! I wonder if I can get that for my birthday next year!:P

Chocolate Shavings said...

Your birthday seemed like a real succes, and that cake is amazingly beautiful. I love the detail!
I know what you mean about wanting to post recipes that are perfect.. but I also find that you really learn from recipes that don't quite work, so it's not always a loss. The cupcakes look very pretty though, even if they didn't reach your expectations.

Maya said...

Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Big Boys Oven said...

Just drop by to wish you a Happy New Year and hope to hear from you soon!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bits of Taste said...

Hi, first time here and I have found a gorgeous baking blog full of beautiful cakes and pastry! Lovely!

Go Go Elite Scooter said...

Wow! Thanks for the chocolate cupcake recipe!

I'm new to your blog but i'm sure i'll be making good use of it!

Wonderful pics!