Saturday, November 23, 2013


   This recipe comes from www.this-is-irene.blogspot.com.au .   OOOOHHHH do these little cakes make my mouth water.  Go ahead and make it! I DARE you!

Vanilla, White Chocolate Layer Cake

It's been a while, but it feels so good to know exams are finally finished! All that's left is the actual HSC but come one now, it's 2 whole months away! And so alot of things have happened while I was gone- like how I finally turned 18! Exciting yet it doesn't feel that much different...

As I said, this is actually a recipe that I made quite some time ago but never got around to posting it. And another exciting thing was I finally bought some decent individual food rings!!! It's sooo exciting because I've always wanted them but was hesitating because the other day I got a set of 6 individual tart moulds... eh, well let's just say I only got to use it once. And that one time, after rolling out dough, cutting pieces to fit to the moulds and all that jazz, my shortcut pastry shrunk like crazy after baking and I almost cried thinking where are my pretty individual tartlets!? So after that, I got too paranoid in attempting to make individual tarts again. But food rings don't let people down- that's the thing! It's just about putting pre-mixed components in layers and voila, you'll get a pretty lookin stack of layers! It's a real genius invention- so are rubber spatulas if I may add!

So basically, I'm a sucker for anything white chocolate or vanilla. People say white choc is overly sweet, which yes, I won't deny that, especially for this dessert, but maaaaaan it's gooood! So anyway, recently, I had a taste of the famous V8 cake from Adriano Zumbo. If you're from Australia, you must have remembered that crazy 10+ layer vanilla cake the masterchef contestents 2 years ago had to replicate. Click here to see the mile long list of ingredients yourself. Haha well of course, I wasn't up for the whole challenge, I mean just seriously- LOOK AT ALL THOSE INGREDIENTS! 

So anyway, although not up to the big challenge, it really made me want to make something layery too! So that's when I thought, I CAN DO THIS- just with less layers for less fuss and make them simpler too! The crunch that came from the toasted brulee, I would just replicate with the usual cornflakes and some crushed digestives. I was so so wrong, sure I expected them to turn soggy, I like my cornflakes soggy anyway so it thought it'd be okay. But I never would've thought they'd turn out hard instead of soggy! Hard and chewy, but it was nice in a strange way. If you're trying this recipe out, you may like to substitute it with something- I don't know quite yet, maybe a crumble topping or something crunchy that you can think of, or stick to cornflakes if you want to experience the strange deliciousness of chewy cornflakes. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the humble 5 component vanilla, white chocolate layer cake:

Vanilla, White Chocolate Layer Cake
Makes 4 individual cakes

For the Vanilla Almond Sponge:

3 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar (sifted)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment and grease it with butter.
2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks.
3. Add the sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.
4. Beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs in another bowl until light and voluminous.
5. Add the flour and beat until the flour is just combined.
6. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture.
7. Fold in the butter and vanilla extract.
8. Pour batter to tray and use a spatula to spread it out thinly
9. Bake in a preheated210°C oven until lightly browned and just springy to the touch, about 5-9 minutes.
10. Run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake form the pan.
11. Peel of the parchments paper flip and cover the cake while it cools.
12. Cut 16 7cm diameter rounds of cake and set aside

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3/4 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Whisk the sugar and matcha into the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. (The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture should look like shiny marshmallow cream.)
2. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat until the cream is cool, about 5 minutes.
3. Beat in the butter one stick at a time.
4. Beat the mixture until it thickens and becomes smooth, about 5-20 minutes.
5. Fold in vanilla extract and set aside.

For the White Chocolate Ganache:
150g white chocolate (finely chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Heat cream until very hot
2. Pour onto chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth and set aside

For the Cornflake Layer:
a handful of cornflakes- coarsely crushed

For the Crumbed Biscuit Layer:
5 digestive biscuits, coarsely crushed

To assemble:
NOTE: I recommend placing a sheet of parchment around the sides of the rings beforehand to make it easier to unmould

1. Place rounds of sponge at the base of the food ring
2. Spoon in buttercream over the sponge
3. Sprinkle cornflakes
4. Place round of sponge
5. Pour in ganache
6. Sprinkle crushed digestives
7. Repeat steps, ending with buttercream or the ganache
8. Top with extra cornflakes and berries if desired

The verdict: The buttercream was exceptionally delicious and the whole cake turned out beautifully tastewise. But again, the cornflake was a disappointment- I really do need to find a simple way to add a crunch factor to the cake. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good cake well worth the effort- it was so fun to make 


    I know it may be a little early but I also love Christmas. I have been writing alot of articles about Halloween time. So here are some phobias that people may have during Christmas time. Many people dread the Christmas season for many reasons. Although the season is stressful, most people don't have actual phobias connected with the holidays. But Christmas is stressful to many. And it seems to aggravate a lot of phobias.

  • Ochlophobia or Agoraphobia-(Fear of crowds) It also includes fear of lines, traffic jams and even social events. Many people suffer from just the fear of not pleasing others during this season and end up overwhelming themselves with too much responsibility.

  • Katagelophobia-(Fear of ridicule or embarrassment) this might include not giving the right gift, being around family and their comments, Christmas party pranks, etc.

  • Mythophobia-(Fear of making a false statement) slipping and telling a secret you shouldn't, or what someone got someone, etc.

  • Pogonophobia-(Fear of beards) sounds crazy but some people fear Santa's beard. And suddenly men with beards are abundant during Christmas.

  • Pediophobia-(Fear of children) It seems odd, but some people fear kids.

  • Ecclestaphobia-(Fear of churches)

  • Pediophobia-(Fear of dolls) more toy are on display and these people find it stressful. A normal grocery store suddenly might have dolls to sell where they normally did not.

  • Dronophobia-Fear of driving on expressways) with traffic a mess during the holidays, those who hate freeways usually avoid them. More traffic means greater chances you off-streets are not available due to accidents or being jammed up.

  • Doraphobia-(Fear of fur)

  • Cherophobia-(Fear of fun) believe it or not, some people fear smiling and having a holly jolly good time.

  • Clinophobia-(Fear of going to bed) for some it's being afraid of the dark. For others it's a gear of missing out on what's going on. For others they are afraid they'll never wake up if they go to bed.

  • Phonophobia-(Fear of loud talking or noises) some people actually panic over holiday music pumped over the speakers at malls, stores, etc. And, others simply can not tolerate loudness in any way.

  • Decidophobia-(Fear of unable to make decisions) Christmas time is full of decisions and for those that have a hard thime with them, or are afraid of making the wrong one, this is a bit of an overload for them.

  • Xenophobia-(Fear of strangers) this of course would not apply to going to malls, church, etc. because these people simply would not go there. But Christmas is a time when you never know WHO might pop in? For those who fear strangers, this can suddenly be devestation.

  • Haphenphobia-(Fear of being touched or having to touch others) a surprise kiss under a mistletoe or a holiday good cheer hug for these people is like a sudden slap and totally throws them off-balance.

  • Hodophobia-(Fear of traveling) this is a bit different than agoraphobia because these people are not afraid to leave home, they just have a fear of HOW they leave the house. With some, as long as they walk it's fine. But public transportation, flying, etc. is a major problem. For others, traveling is all based on how far they determine in their minds a travel is. For some travel isn't travel if it's in the same town. For others it's only if they leave the state. And yet for others travel is simply NOT being in you home.


 7 Secrets To The Juiciest Thanksgiving Turkey

tutorial for the best Thanksgiving Turkey

It can seem like a daunting task to roast a turkey! I know I was a little panicked when I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted the turkey to steal the show. (I knew the sides would take care of themselves.)
After consulting my gigantic stack of cookbooks and foodie magazines, I felt prepared. As I slid the roasting pan into the oven, I wiped my hands on my apron and said, “Well, that was easier than I thought it would be!”
Follow these tips and you’ll be saying the same thing!
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Plus, you and your guests will be enjoying the juiciest Thanksgiving turkey ever.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Before we start, there are several different kinds of turkeys available — self-basting, kosher, and natural. You’ll find these fresh or frozen. (Note: some turkeys are partially frozen and still labeled “fresh.”) In this tutorial, I’m using a fresh, all-natural, free range turkey. While I don’t mind using the turkeys treated with salt solutions, I do prefer seasoning them myself for greater control. But that is just a preference.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

The first step is to thaw your turkey. If you have a fresh turkey, you can skip this step. Make sure to thaw your turkey at the proper temperature to avoid bacteria growth. Thawing can be done in the refrigerator or in cold water, which takes about 3/4 the time. Be sure to thaw the turkey over a rimmed baking dish so the juices don’t run all over and contaminate other foods and surfaces.
Secret #1: 
If you’ve never cooked a turkey before, you may be shocked to find out how long it takes to thaw a turkey. Use this handy reference and plan ahead!
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Once the turkey has been thawed, remove the giblets — if you like, you can save them to make homemade turkey stock. (In fact, I recommend thawing the turkey a day or two before you roast it and make the stock so it’s ready to go for gravy.) Rinse the turkey inside and out in cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
When I buy a fresh, natural turkey, like the one pictured, I like to brine it to help make it as juicy as possible. If your turkey has been pre-salted (check the label), go ahead and skip this part.
Think of brining like marinating. It helps season and draw moisture into the meat to keep it flavorful and juicy. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 cup of table salt (2 cups kosher salt) and 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown) for every gallon of water. Brining recipes vary greatly on how long the turkey should brine. I allow plenty of time, at least 8-12 hours.
Secret #2: 
Brining means you can skip the basting later on.
how to properly brine a turkey

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water and add any seasonings you want to use. I like to use a combination of herbs and spices — rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, whole cloves and allspice, plus I put in some leek tops and halved garlic cloves for extra flavor.
Place the turkey and the brining solution into a sterilized plastic or non-reactive metal container. You can also use brining bags and place it in a plastic tub in case it leaks. You want to keep the turkey at 40 degrees F, so you’ll either want to refrigerate the turkey in the brine, or leave it someplace cool and add ice or gel ice packs. If it’s cold enough outside, you can even put the turkey in a safe place and let it brine there.
how to properly brine a turkey

how to properly brine a turkey

I had a tough time finding a container that was tall enough, so I ended up using a much larger plastic tub than I wanted.  If you have the same problem, just be sure to follow the ratio of salt and sugar to water and you’ll be fine.
Secret #3: 
To keep the turkey totally submerged, top it with a heavy metal lid or plate.
One the turkey has brined long enough, remove it from the brine and rinse it well with cold water. Discard the brine.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Let the turkey continue to air dry (you can do this overnight in the fridge too) and allow it to come to room temperature for a few hours before you roast it.
Preheat the oven to the temperature in your recipe. I prefer to start out with very high heat, such as 450 degrees for a half hour, then lower the heat to 350 degrees for the remaining time.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

If your turkey comes with a plastic pop-up timer/thermometer, you should leave it where it is, but ignore it!  If you gauge done-ness by the pop-up timer, the white meat will be bone-dry and overcooked. Instead, use an instant-read thermometer. If you have a fancy digital one, even better. Just insert it into the thickest part of the breast and set the temperature for between 161-165 degrees F.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

A roasting pan is one of the most important tools for the perfect turkey. You can certainly get away with using a disposable aluminum pan if you are on a tight budget or don’t have storage space to accommodate a large pan. However, I recommend using either the roasting/broiling pan that comes standard with most ovens, or investing in a good-quality roasting pan that comes with a flat or V-rack. If you don’t have a rack, you can make your own using aluminum foil.
Here’s why that is important: You want the turkey to be elevated a bit to allow for air circulation, which leads to more even cooking, and also because as the juices drip down, they will get nice and brown on the bottom of the pan. (That’s one of the keys to really great gravy.)
I also like to dice carrots, onions, and celery to put on the bottom of the pan for extra flavor, but that is totally optional.
what to put in your turkey instead of stuffing

tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Secret #4: 
I never cook the stuffing inside the turkey. I prefer to bake it separately in another dish. A turkey with stuffing takes longer to cook and can be a huge pain.
While I prefer not to stuff the turkey, I do like to place some aromatics inside the cavity — carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and fresh herbs are great.  I’ve also used apples and lemons before as well.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Before placing the turkey on the roasting rack, rub the skin liberally with butter or canola oil. And if you didn’t brine it, sprinkle the whole bird inside and out with salt and pepper, or a spice rub. The butter will help give you crispy, golden brown skin.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

I also like to truss the legs together if the turkey doesn’t come with it already done for me. But don’t stress! Most turkeys come with a plastic or wire trussing. So you can just leave it be.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

If your turkey has a big flap of neck skin, you can secure it using toothpicks or just tuck it in.
Secret #5:
 If you are using a v-rack, be sure to tuck the wings back underneath the turkey so they don’t flap around.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

You might notice that the turkey is breast-side down in the roasting pan. That’s on purpose! I like to start roasting that way and rotate the turkey periodically so the breast doesn’t get overcooked.
Secret #6: 
Finishing with the breast side up will also give you that crispy, brown skin everyone loves to fight over.
If you have a turkey larger than 14-15 lbs., then it will be too difficult to turn it over. Just roast it breast-side up for the whole time, covering just the turkey breast (legs uncovered) with aluminum foil. (I’ll give more detail on the foil later.)
Then it’s time to place it in the oven!
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

A lot of people baste their turkeys continually throughout the roasting process. If you rub butter over the skin, that will be a good start and you can baste it a few times if you want to. If I brine my turkey, I don’t usually baste it. Otherwise, I baste mine when I turn it over.
Secret #7:
 Don’t baste the turkey during the last hour or the skin could turn out flabby instead of golden and crispy.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

It’s a good idea to pull the pan completely out of the oven to turn the turkey over.  That way the precious heat you’ve built up won’t escape and it will be much easier to maneuver while you turn it over. I use either clean oven mitts or wads of paper towels to protect my hands when I turn the turkey over. If you want, you can also partially turn the turkey over, allowing each leg to brown nicely (about 15 minutes per leg) before finishing with the breast-side up.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Before sliding the turkey back into the oven, I make a foil diamond or triangle and fit it down against the turkey breast, leaving the legs uncovered because they can tolerate more heat.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

A lot of people rely on the leg wiggling easily to tell them when the turkey is finished cooking.  I still like to rely on my thermometer. I like to take a reading in both the breast and thigh. The breast should be at 160-165 degrees F. and the thigh should be at least 170-175 degrees F, some say little as 165 degrees, but I let it get a little higher just to be safe.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

If it’s not up to the proper temperature, put it back in the oven for 15-30 minutes more and take another reading.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

See? Nice and brown. Just like you want.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

When the turkey is finished cooking, you need to let it rest for 30 minutes before slicing it. This can be done on a cutting board with a well around it to catch any escaping juices, or on a serving platter.
This resting step is super important. During the cooking process, a lot of liquid is released. Not all of that will drip down into the roasting pan. A lot of it is sitting just under the skin. Letting the turkey rest for a bit will allow those juices to be reabsorbed and you guessed it, the turkey will be juicier.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

While the turkey rests, be sure to tent it with foil or a large metal bowl to retain the heat.
tutorial for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
And you’re done!
Uncover the turkey, place it on the platter (and garnish if you like!), and take it to the table to show off. Then give yourself a pat on the back, sit back and enjoy the compliments you’ll get on the juiciest turkey ever.