Thai Tea series - Part IV Thai Milk Tea Donuts with Thai Milk Tea Glaze

Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake
Thai Tea series - Part II Thai Tea Cookies
Thai Tea series - Part III Bake Thai Milk Tea Cheese Tart

I still have a few Thai tea bakes in my list like egg tarts, butter cake, roll cake and cupcake but didn't feel like baking any of them just yet. Rather, had an urge to bake some donuts.

So yep, here's my quick and easy, very hastily put-together Baked Thai Milk Tea Donuts with Thai Milk Tea Glaze. This baked donut is essentially a "cake" version which is much easier to make than dough ones which require proofing and save the mess of deep-frying as well.


Thai Milk Tea Donuts with Thai Milk Tea Glaze
(makes 18 mini donuts)

Ingredients
(A) Thai milk tea
  • 300g fresh milk
  • 6 teabags thai tea
  1. Heat fresh milk in small pot till hot, add the teabags and let them infuse for an hour or more.
  2. Drain and squeeze as much liquid out of the bags as possible. Set the thai milk tea aside.
*There is more than enough milk tea left, extra can be made into Iced Milk Tea aka Cha Yen.

(B) Donuts
  •  100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 60g thai milk tea (from A)
  • 60g buttermilk
  • 30g unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 175C, conventional mode. Grease donut pan and set aside. *I'm using 8-hole silicone donut mould which doesn't require greasing. Place the silicone mould onto a baking tray.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and soda together into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk sugar, tea, buttermilk together till blended. Add melted butter and whisk till blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk till blended.
  5. Pour the batter into donut pan till the batter is same level as the donut centre.
  6. Bake at 175C for 13-15 mins. 
  7. Let the donut cool completely before glazing.
(C) Glaze
  • 3 tbsp thai milk tea (from A)
  • 15 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Mix tea with sugar till a thick glaze is formed.
  2. Dip donut into the glaze, flip it over and place on wire rack for glaze to set.
  3. Once glaze is set, donut is ready to be served.



The baked donut itself is not very sweet with just a tinge of Thai Milk Tea taste, it's the glaze that does the job. Initially I only dunk the donut into the glaze once, but after letting it sit for a while, the glaze sort of "sunk" and disappeared into the donut.

To achieve this thick and luscious glossy look, I had to dip the donut into the glaze two to three times. So yes, the glaze is the calorie-bomb here! I guess the sugar-adversed would probably cringe at the amount of sugar that goes into making the glaze! I only ate the ones with single layer of glaze :p

Anyways, the donut is a hit with my kiddo. He ate two before dinner (I refused to let him have more) and another after dinner! Luckily they are mini ones and not the regular size. I think I'm gonna explore more flavours next time. Till then :)

Huiji Paper Wrap Chicken 汇集纸包鸡

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I'm not familiar with TCM or chinese herbs and thus seldom prepare herbal dishes at home. But once in a while when the weather is rainy and cold, my family would crave for some soothing Emperor Herbal Chicken. Those times, either we dine out at zi char stalls or I would buy commercial soup pack with all the necessary herbs and some even come with plastic sheet and aluminum foil.

After receiving a complimentary bottle of Huiji Waist Tonic (from Singapore Home Cooks and Huiji), I read through the ingredients and learnt that Huiji is made with 6 different kinds of premium-quality herbs, Cordyceps, Ginseng, Du Zhong, Dang Gui, Shou Wu and Da Zao.

So I thought Huiji would be a good alternative to actual herbs used in Emperor Herbal Chicken.


In addition to Huiji, I only added dried huai shan, red date and goji berries to the broth as I happen to have these ingredients in my fridge (cannot remember when or where I got them!).

It's really simple to whip up! There are only 3 of us in the family and we prefer chicken leg than a whole chicken so it makes this dish even easier to prepare. Just rub salt all over the chicken legs, leave for 10 mins, rinse and pat dry. In a cooking pot, combine chicken stock, huiji waist tonic, dried huai shan, red date, goji berries and rock sugar. Bring to boil and simmer till rock sugar is melted. Make corn starch slurry and add to the broth to thicken it slightly.

Line aluminum foil and cooking paper over a heat-proof pot or bowl, place chicken legs into the lined pot and pour the broth over the chicken. Wrap up the chicken and place the pot into a steamer with rapid boiling water. Steam the paper wrap chicken for 2hrs and it's ready to serve!


Huiji Paper Wrap Chicken 汇集纸包鸡

Ingredients
  • 3 kampong chicken legs
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 100ml Huiji Waist Tonic
  • 5 pcs dried huai shan
  • 5 pcs red date
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 40g rock sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water
 Steps
  1. Rub salt all over chicken legs, leave for 10 mins, rinse and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. In a sauce pot, add chicken stock, Huiji, dried huai shan, red date, goji berries and rock sugar. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer till rock sugar is melted.
  3. Add corn starch slurry to thicken the broth.
  4. Line a heat-proof pot or bowl with aluminum foil and cooking paper. Place the chicken legs inside. Pour the broth over the chicken legs.
  5. Wrap up the cooking paper and aluminum foil tightly. 
  6. Place the pot/bowl into a steamer with rapid boiling water. Steam for 2hrs and the chicken is ready to be served.


When I served this dish for dinner, the HB thought that I had used one of those commercial Emperor Herbal Chicken packs, which shows that the taste is actually similar :) Haha. In fact, I thought it tastes even better! With Huiji Waist Tonic, I don't have to buy those premix anymore! The broth is so flavourful that once again I ate more rice than usual :p

As the kiddo only ate the chicken drumstick and both HB and I managed our own chicken leg portions, I had a chicken thigh left which I kept for my lunch the next day. All I need is to cook some egg noodles and choy sum, heat up the chicken with the broth and serve together. The broth goes well with noodles too!

This recipe is another keeper for me!

Stir-fry Pork & Kidney in Huiji sauce 汇集炒猪肉猪腰

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Check out my other dishes created with Huiji Waist Tonic:

 
Many ladies especially those who have gone through confinement would be familiar with this dish. It's supposedly nourishing for the body, such as strengthening the waist and kidney.

For me, it's also a childhood dish as my mum likes pork kidney and would cook it with pork slices, ginger and sesame oil once in a while. I love the bouncy texture of the kidney and the tantalising sauce which always makes me go for more rice! 


Initially I shunned away from cooking it at home as I didn't know how to clean and rid the stinky odour from the kidney, but after learning from the friendly wet market butcher and picking up tips from the internet, I realise it's much easier than expected!

Basically at the wet market (where I frequent), the kidneys are sold in a set comprising of two kidneys. The butcher would slice open each kidney and help to remove a whitish layer at the insides. This whitish layer must be removed completely as it's the dirtiest and smelliest portion. And so, I'll get four slices in total.

What I do is, make shallow criss-cross slits on the four slices of kidney, then cut the kidney into bite-size pieces. Place the cut slices of kidney in a bowl of water with some shallots. Let them soak for 10 mins, after that drain the water and rinse with running tap water for a few mins. Soak for 10 mins again, drain and rinse again. Repeat this process till the water runs clear when rinsing the kidney slices. Finally, blanch the kidney slices in boiling water for 30s, drain and the kidney slices are rid of the odour :)


Stir-fry Pork & Kidney in Huiji sauce 汇集炒猪肉猪腰

Ingredients
  • 200g pork kidney (1 set)
  • 10-12 pieces of shallot
  • 200g pork tenderloin, sliced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 30ml Huiji Waist Tonic
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hua tiao chinese cooking wine
  • Corn starch and water to make slurry
  • Chinese parsley, for garnish
Steps
  1. Slice open the 2 kidneys (to get 4 pieces) and use a small sharp knife to carve away the whitish layer on the insides. Skip this step if the butcher has already done it for you.
  2. Make shallow criss-cross slits on the 4 pieces of kidney, then cut them into bite-size pieces.
  3. Place the cut slices of kidney in a bowl of water with the shallots. Let them soak for 10 mins, after that drain the water and rinse with running tap water for a few mins. Soak for 10 mins again, drain and rinse again. Repeat this process till the water runs clear when rinsing the kidney slices.
  4. Finally, blanch the kidney slices in boiling water for 30s, drain and the kidney slices are rid of the unpleasant odour.
  5. In a frying pan (on medium heat), add sesame oil and julienned ginger, stir fry till ginger is slightly browned and fragrant.
  6. Add the pork slices and quick stir fry for 1 min till the pork turns opaque.
  7. Add the kidney slices and quick stir fry for another min.
  8. Add the Huiji waist tonic, oyster sauce and hua tiao, quick stir fry to combine, cover and simmer for 5 mins.
  9. Add the corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce.
  10. Garnish with chinese parsley if desired, dish is ready to be served, best eaten hot. 


Totally love how this dish turns out with the addition of Huiji Waist Tonic; it adds a bittersweet depth to the sauce and overall complemented the pork kidney and tenderloin very well. Even the HB enjoyed the dish :)
With this dish, it's double nourishment as Huiji Waist Tonic helps in strengthening the body and waist, as well as invigorating vital energy and blood :)

Thank you to Singapore Home Cooks and Huiji Waist Tonic for offering me this opportunity to try this product! Currently there's a Mother's Day promotion, check out the website for more info :)

Thai Tea series - Part III Bake Thai Milk Tea Cheese Tart

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Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake
Thai Tea series - Part II Thai Tea Cookies

Woohoo... I'm still going strong for my Thai Tea series ;p

This time round, decided to play with my signature Bake Cheese Tart recipe and incorporate Thai Milk Tea :) Well, since there's already a chocolate flavour in the market, other flavours could possibly be introduced in time to come?


Anyways, I baked a batch on Sunday afternoon but somehow the cheese flavour overwhelmed the Thai Milk Tea taste and I wasn't satisfied with the results. When I was cooking the custard, I added the cream cheese bit by bit to reach the desired balanced taste. Before sending the tart for baking, the Thai Milk Tea flavour was distinct with cheesy undertone, but after the tart was baked, the cheese flavour took over and I couldn't taste much of the milk tea anymore -_-"

So this morning, I tested another batch by increasing the intensity of Thai Milk Tea and reducing the cream cheese further. This time round, it was much better with more distinct milk tea flavour after the tart was baked :)



Bake Thai Milk Tea Cheese Tart
(makes 15 petite size tarts, using 5cm round cutter/3.5cm base tart case)

Ingredients

(A) Thai Milk Tea
  • 150g fresh milk
  • 3 Thai Milk tea bags

(B) Tart pastry
  • 120g plain flour
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 60g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 1 tbsp thai milk tea

(C) Thai milk tea cheese custard
  • 100g Thai milk tea
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 50g whipping cream
  • 40g salted butter
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 20g cheddar cheese
  • 10g corn starch
  • 1 egg (about 55g nett weight)
  • Egg yolk + thai milk tea mixture for brushing on top of custard

Steps
(A) Thai milk tea
  1. Add fresh milk and thai milk tea bags into a pot, heat the fresh milk till hot to touch and remove from heat. Let the tea bags infused for 15 mins. 
  2. Strain the tea bags, there should be about 115-116g of thai milk tea.
(B) Tart pastry
  1. Sift plain flour and caster sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
  2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Add 1 tbsp (about 15-16g) of thai milk tea (from A) to the mixture, use a scrapper to mix the tea into flour mixture.
  4. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use hands to form the mixture into a dough.
  5. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place the dough between 2 pieces of plastic sheet.
  6. Roll the dough to about 4mm thickness and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.
(C) Thai milk tea cheese custard
  1. Add thai milk tea, cream cheese, whipping cream, salted butter, caster sugar and cheddar cheese into a small pot.
  2. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted.
  3. Once the mixture has melted, add sifted corn starch. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
  4. Add the egg and keep stirring till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard.
  5. Sift the custard for a smoother texture (as they may be some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard). Cover the custard with a clingwrap on the surface and let the custard cool down completely.

(D) Assembly
  1. Remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, use the round cutter to stamp the dough.
  2. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
  3. Place the cut dough over the tart case and gently press it downwards.
  4. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart tin. Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart cases.
  5. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 10mins. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
  6. After the tart cases are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before use.
  7. Preheat oven to 235C conventional mode. 
  8. Fill the thai milk tea cheese custard into a piping bag. Pipe the custard into the tart cases, shape slightly domed. Brush custard evenly with egg yolk-thai milk tea mixture.
  9. Bake the tarts at 235C conventional mode, for 8 mins.
  10. Once baked, remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, freshly baked.



Totally love how the tart turns out. The tart crust is crunchy and the custard is creamy and gooey with lovely aroma and taste of Thai milk tea as well as cheesy flavour. Love the combination of sweet and savoury in one!

The kiddo ate one after lunch and already requested to pack two for his school snack tomorrow =D

Fresh Huaishan and Eryngii Mushroom in Huiji Sauce 汇集鲜淮山杏鮑菇

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Check out my other dishes created with Huiji Waist Tonic:
Stir-fry Pork & Kidney in Huiji sauce 汇集炒猪肉猪腰


This dish is inspired by a lunch I had at a restaurant specialising in Korean Royal Cuisine when I visited Seoul last year. That particular dish was Abalone with huai shan (aka wild yam), eryngii mushroom, ginko nuts and chestnut braised in an umami seafood sauce.

After that Royal Cuisine meal, I was already thinking of re-creating a vegetarian version with just the wild yam, eryngii mushroom and ginko nuts. As for the sauce, I had a vague idea, probably along the line of vegetable stock and vegetarian oyster sauce, but couldn't figure the umami kick I was looking for.

In case you are wondering, am I a vegetarian? Nope, I love my meat and seafood but sometimes I do like to explore vegetarian dishes using some of my favourite ingredients like fresh huai shan and eryngii mushroom.

Huai Shan 淮山 or Wild Yam 山药 or Nagaimo 長芋 (Japanese) has sweet and neutral properties and medicinal functions such as lower blood sugar and pressure, anti-aging, improve digestive system and so on.


Eryngii or king oyster mushroom 杏鮑菇 has naturally occuring anti-oxidants, rich in nutrients and minerals, doesn't have much taste on its own but once it's cooked, it has this earthy and meaty flavour which I love :)

I digress.

So, thanks to Singapore Home Cooks and Huiji Waist Tonic for offering me a complimentary bottle of the tonic to try and introduce into dishes. After tasting the tonic, I thought the bittersweet tonic taste could work well in the sauce for my dish! And Huiji Waist Tonic itself has benefits such as strengthening the body and waist, as well as invigorating vital energy and blood. Best of all, it's suitable for vegetarians and even halal-certified!



Now cooking this dish is really very easy!

In a pot, add vegetable stock, Huiji Waist Tonic, mirin, goji berries, sugar and salt (both to taste and optional), bring to boil, then thicken with corn starch water. That's it for the sauce.

In a frying pan, add olive or grapeseed oil, and pan fry sliced huai shan and eryngii mushroom till golden brown. Blanch the broccoli forets and ginko nuts (I bought canned ones which are already cooked).

Arrange the huai shan, eryngii, broccoli and ginko nuts in a shallow pan, pour the sauce over the ingredients, turn on stove and bring the mixture to boil on low heat and simmer for 5-10 mins. That's it!


 Fresh Huaishan and Eryngii Mushroom in Huiji Sauce 汇集鲜淮山杏鮑菇


Ingredients
  • 160-180g fresh huaishan, cut into 10 discs
  • 1-2 stalks eryngii mushroom, cut into 15-16 slices
  • 1 head broccoli, separate into stalks
  • 8-10 pieces of cooked ginko nuts
  • 1 tbsp goji berries, soak till softened
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 30ml Huiji Waist Tonic
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar (to taste, optional)
  • Pinch salt (to taste, optional)
  • 2 tsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water
Steps
  1. In a sauce pot, add vegetable stock, Huiji Waist Tonic, Mirin, sugar, salt and goji berries. Bring the mixture to boil. Add corn starch and stir to thicken the sauce slightly. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Blanch the broccoli and ginko nuts in boiling water. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a shallow pan, add olive or grapeseed oil, pan fry the sliced huai shan and eryngii mushroom till golden brown on both sides. 
  4. Arrange all the ingredients neatly in the pan, pour the sauce over, bring the sauce to boil on low heat and simmer for 5-10 mins.
  5. The dish is ready to be served. Best eaten warm.


I must say I love this dish so much! The sauce really goes very well with all the ingredients and even enhances their natural flavours.

This dish is definitely an energy booster and healthy choice for vegetarians (and non-vegetarians alike)! 就算是素菜也可以补充元气哦! 这可是一道既美味又养生的料理, 希望大家会喜欢!

Steamed Red Date Huiji Layer Cake 养生养颜红枣汇集千层糕

Check out my other dishes created with Huiji Waist Tonic:
Stir-fry Pork & Kidney in Huiji sauce 汇集炒猪肉猪腰


I was introduced to the Steamed Red Date Layer Cake 红枣千层糕 in Hong Kong by the HB who had tried it during a previous business trip. Apparently it's quite a popular dessert in Hong Kong and usually sold in Dim Sum restaurants. We both love the chewy texture of the cake which bears a resemblance to the local Kueh Lapis Sagu or Nian Gao but made using red dates. This steamed cake is not common in Singapore and so far I only found it at Tai Cheong Bakery, Holland Village. So as usual, I decided I must try to make this at home, adding it to my long-list of to-makes (since more than a year ago) :p.

Been procrastinating until recently where I was offered a complimentary bottle of Huiji Waist Tonic 汇集补腰精 and try to introduce it to any cooking/baking dishes. I've heard about Huiji Waist Tonic, supposedly good for strengthening the body and waist, as well as invigorate vital energy and blood, but have never drank it before because I thought I don't need any health tonics :p But I guess age is catching up and I ought to start maintaining my physique!


I learnt that Huiji is made with 6 different kinds of premium-quality herbs: Cordyceps, Ginseng, Du Zhong, Dang Gui, Shou Wu and Da Zao with no alcohol content, added sugar, honey or thickening agents, even suitable for vegetarians. Other than drinking it directly, it is also suitable for cooking as an alternative to actual herbs. After researching on the internet, I was surprised to see that this tonic is already widely used in many dishes/recipes.

In terms of taste, Huiji is bittersweet with strong hints of tonic aroma. I guess it depends on individual preference; the HB and kiddo don't like to drink it neat because of the tonic taste but I'm ok with it. And so I decided to introduce it subtly to the red date cake because I thought the combination would work well with each other. In fact, Da Zao (Chinese Date, Fructus Jujubae, 大枣) is already a key ingredients in Huiji. Da Zao or Hong Zao (Red date) itself is a superfood which is packed with nutrients and vitamins with a host of benefits such as maintaining youthful looking skin, as well as great for nourishment especially for ladies. Most of the time I use red date when cooking soups, or in desserts like Cheng Tng, but using it as an ingredient in cake is a first (not counting medjool dates which I use for sticky date bundt cake).
 


The red date cake is typically steamed layer by layer to increase its chewiness and also because of aesthetic I guess. I decided to make it 7 layers, with 4 layers of original red date cake and 3 layers added with Huiji.

In terms of preparation, it's a bit time consuming but actually recipe itself is fairly straightforward.


First of all, boil the red dates in water for 30 mins and let it cool down for 1-2hrs.
Next, mash and strain the cooked dates to extract the red date juice.
This step can be prepared a day in advance.

Ingredients include red date juice, red date sugar (can be found at NTUC Finest or Cold Storage, or replace with brown or red sugar), mixture of tapioca starch, glutinous rice flour and water chestnut flour and Huiji Waist Tonic.

Melt the red date sugar in the red date juice and let the mixture cool completely before use. This is important as hot mixture will "cook" the flours instead of dissolving them. *I didn't add all the red date sugar shown in the picture, but to taste (used about half portion only).


Add the red date juice gradually to the flour mixture, and stir till the flours has dissolve. Strain the batter to get smoother texture. The red date batter is ready for use.


Take out a portion of the red date batter and add Huiji Waist Tonic.

Oil a 7" square baking pan and place it inside a steamer. Bring water to boil on medium high heat. Add the red date batter for the first layer, steam for 8 mins, follow by Huiji layer for another 8 mins. Continue until all batter used up. There should be 4 layers of red date and 3 layers of Huiji red date. After adding the last layer, steam the whole cake for another 40 mins.

Let the cake cool down completely before unmoulding. It's still very soft and difficult to unmould and cut neatly. So if wish to get neat cuts, chill the whole pan in the fridge till firm. To cut the cake, oil the knife as the cake is quite sticky.

*I reserve a bit of red date batter to make a mini cake so that the HB can try the original taste without the Huiji.



Steamed Red Date Huiji Layer Cake 养生养颜红枣汇集千层糕
(makes one 7" square 7 layer cake)

Ingredients
  • 400g pitted red dates, halved
  • 1.25L (about 5 cups) water
  • 70g red date sugar or red/brown sugar (less sweet version, to taste)
  • 240g tapioca starch
  • 60g glutinous rice flour
  • 30g water chestnut flour
  • 120ml water (more or less, as necessary)
  • 50ml Huiji Waist Tonic
Steps
  1. Rinse and drain the red dates,  place them in a pot, add 1.25L water and bring to boil. Boil for 30 mins, then let the red date water mixture cool down for 1-2hrs.
  2. Mash the cooked red dates and sieve to extract the juice, which is about 480ml (could be more or less, depends on type/quality of red dates).
  3. Pour the juice into a pot, top up additional water (120ml, could be more or less) to bring total amount of liquid to about 600ml, add the red date sugar and bring to boil till sugar is melted. Set aside and let the red date juice cool down completely.
  4. Place the tapioca, glutinous rice and water chestnut flours into a large mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Add the red date juice gradually and stir till all the flour is melted.
  5. The batter comes up to be around 750ml. Take out about 150ml, add Huiji Waist Tonic, stir well to mix. Now there are 2 portions, about 600ml of red date batter and 200ml Huiji red date batter.
  6. Oil a 7" square baking pan and place the pan inside a steamer. Bring water to boil on medium high heat.
  7. Pour about 140-150ml of red date batter into the pan, steam for 8mins, follow by 60-70ml of Huiji red date batter, steam for 8 mins. Continue until all batter used up, there will be 4 layers of red date batter and 3 layers of Huiji red date batter. After last layer is added, steam the cake for about 40-45 mins.
  8. After steaming, let the cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  9. Cut the layer cake into bite size pieces and serve.
*Amount of sugar has been reduced for this recipe, feel free to adjust according to taste (red date also has natural sweetness). The red date juice may taste quite sweet at first, but after adding the flour mixture, it's balanced out.
*After the cake is cooled from steaming, it will still be very soft and difficult to cut neatly. For ease of cutting and serving, it's best to let the cake chill in the fridge till firm. To serve, steam the slices for 5-8 mins.
*The cake is quite sticky, to get neat cuts, oil the knife after each slice.



I love how this Red Date Huiji Layer cake turns out :) The texture is bouncy and chewy (what we call QQ). Just the right amount of sweetness, with distinct taste and fragrance of red date and undertone of Huiji tonic.

I let the HB try the mini red date cake first and he gave thumbs up saying that it's exactly the same as what we've eaten in HK! Then he tried the version with Huiji and said it was nice as well; overall the taste was quite balanced without overwhelming tonic taste. The kiddo who is super picky and would gagged at the taste of tonic ate it without fuss and also gave thumbs up =D

Really pleased that I can now have my dessert which tastes yummy and nourishing at the same time! This recipe is certainly a keeper for me :)

Thai Tea series - Part II Thai Tea Cookies

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Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake

For part II of my Thai Tea series, I decided to do a simple Thai Tea Cookies because I was craving for some munchies :p

Instead of exploring new recipes, I just use my Teddy Bear Cookies recipe and add ground tea leaves instead.


Thai Tea Cookies
(makes 20-25 cookies)

Ingredients
  • 100g cake flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp Thai tea leaves
  • 1 tbsp egg
  • 1 tsp Thai milk tea
Steps
  1. Sieve cake flour and icing sugar together. Set aside.
  2. Pound/grind the tea leaves into fine powder.
  3. Melt butter in a small pot and add tea powder. Let the tea infuse in the butter while the butter cools down for about 10-15 mins. Chill the infused butter in the fridge till it solidifies.
  4. Remove the infused butter from the fridge and scrap the butter into the flour mixture.
  5. Use the finger tips to rub the butter with the flour mixture till it resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Add egg and milk tea, bring the dough together using spatula till dough forms.
  7. Place the dough in between 2 clear plastic sheets. Roll and flatten to about 4mm thickness. Chill the dough sheet in fridge for at least 30 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius fan mode.
  9. Remove dough sheet from fridge, cut to desired shapes and repeat till all dough use up.
  10. Bake at 170 degree celsius fan mode for about 13-15 mins.
  11. Let the cookies cool completely before storing in airtight container.



Besides the conventional round shape, I cut some dough into teabag shapes and after baking, tie the cookies with a string attached to mini labels. I thought they looked adorable this way :)

The cookies have a lovely thai tea aroma but taste-wise just a whiff of it. Probably I could add more tea leaves (for the butter infusion) or more Thai Milk Tea to the dough. Alternatively, dip the cookies with some thai milk tea sauce. But meanwhile, I'm happy to enjoy them with some Thai Milk Tea :)

Thai Tea series - Part I Thai Milk Tea Chiffon (Cooked Dough Method)

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Did anyone visit Artbox Singapore at Marina Bayfront last weekend or intend to go this weekend? I've not been to the one in Bangkok; thus it was a must-go for me and I did last Friday. Didn't expect such a huge crowd and by the time I finished browsing all the merchandise stalls, the queues for the food stalls were horrendous that we didn't even know how to start? In the end, only managed to buy a "Dragon's Breath" puff cracker snack which is actually over-rated, more for the novelty. And so, while I was happy with my shopping loot, was quite disappointed that I didn't get to eat some of the more famous Thai street snacks and desserts like egglet with Thai Milk Tea ice-cream or even any Thai Milk Tea.

I digress.

So recently I was madly in love with Thai Milk Tea; bought 2 canisters of the red and gold tea from my previous trip to Samui and have been making the drink every other day. Didn't make it as sweet as the authentic ones but the fragrance alone is enough for me. 

Anyways, was inspired to explore a series of bakes and desserts using Thai Tea :)

The very first one is Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake using cooked dough method. Baked a Pandan Chiffon Cake using the cooked dough method some time back (I have to post that recipe soon!) and really love the super moist and soft texture of the cake.

But it's rather tricky to get the correct proportion. This was my second attempt; for the first attempt, my cooked dough was too dry and I had too little liquid (milk tea) so ended up with a hard cake. Somehow, the milk tea got absorbed into the cooked dough very quickly and luckily this time I prepared a larger portion of milk tea to add into the cooked dough. Very glad that the cake turned out alright because the cooked dough batter was quite thick and sticky before I folded in the egg white meringue.

Thai Milk Tea Chiffon Cake
(makes 1 cake using 21cm regular chiffon pan)
(*reference from Bake For Happy Kids, Cook.Bake.Love, Wen's Delight)

Ingredients
  • 250ml (1 cup) fresh milk
  • 3 Thai tea bags
  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 60g cake flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks (I use XL size eggs, around 65-70g)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 80g caster sugar
Steps
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degree celsius, fan mode.
  2. Place fresh milk and tea bags into a saucepan, bring to simmer and let the tea bags seep in the milk for about 10 mins.
  3. Strain the tea-infused milk, squeeze as much liquid from the tea bags as possible and discard the tea bags. Managed to extract about 180-190g of milk tea, set aside.
  4. Heat up the butter in the saucepan till melted, add flour and pinch of salt and stir till all blended and paste is formed. Do not overcook.
  5. Remove from heat, add the milk tea bit by bit and stir till blended. *used around 120g of milk tea.
  6. Add egg yolks one by one and stir till blended. Add more milk tea if batter is too dry. *used all the remaining amount of milk tea.
  7. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer on high speed, add sugar gradually, till stiff peak.
  8. Pour 1/3 of the meringue into the batter bowl and fold till just blended. Repeat with next 1/3. Finally, pour the batter back to the meringue bowl with the remaining 1/3 of the meringue and fold.
  9. Pour the batter into the chiffon pan, knock the pan on the counter a few times. Bake at 160 degree celsius fan mode for 45-50 mins.
  10. Once done, remove chiffon pan from oven, turn it over and let it cool completely before unmolding.

The chiffon turned out just a tad shorter than I like, maybe coz I used a 21cm regular pan? I think it would be perfect if I were to use a 18cm tall pan or 20cm regular pan (for this particular recipe where I used 4 pieces of XL size eggs). Or perhaps I could use 5 regular size eggs. I believe the recipe proportion vs size of chiffon pan does matter. Or probably I didn't fold the meringue properly and some meringue deflated hence resulting in shorter cake?

Anyways, the wonderful aroma of Thai Milk Tea whiffed through the kitchen during the baking process and I was really anticipating it! The cake turned out super moist and soft and I totally love it. It's good to eat on its own but I made some chantilly cream and Thai Milk Tea drizzle sauce to make it more fancy.

The ever-critical HB said that it's a tad too moist (he didn't complain when I baked the Pandan chiffon previously). Oh well. Probably I will try 5 regular size eggs next time round to see how it goes.

Next up, what should I explore? Cookies? Cupcakes? Egg Tarts? I'm excited, but let's hope that I don't get overdose of Thai tea too soon!

Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun

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One of my favourite Hawker Centre is Changi Village and I believe many would agree with me that there are lots of good food (besides Nasi Lemak) there. To name a few, like my HB's favourite Sambal Fish Head with Bittergourd and Fish Slice Soup (Guang Xing), Deep Fried Cempedak and Banana Fritters (Million Star), Beef Noodles (Bedok Beef Noodles), Pork Belly Satay etc etc (there are many other stalls we have yet to try).

This Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun is a signature dish of two particular stalls (Amigo and Wing Kee)and we used to eat it every time we go Changi Village. The rendition by both stalls are almost similar, the chicken chop is very crispy and savoury with a tinge of sweetness, the Hor Fun has a smooth texture and the braised sauce is gooey and savoury with a tinge of sweetness as well.

Anyways, these days we hardly have a chance to eat the Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun anymore because we discovered Guang Xing Fish Soup and Sambal Fish Head and we're hitting Changi V very often because of it :p

Well, to satisfy my cravings, I decided to create it at home myself.

Was offered a pack of Knorr's Hao Chi seasoning to try; it smells really fragrant and I thought it'll incorporate nicely into this dish by cutting down many tedious steps.


Chicken Chop Ipoh Hor Fun
(makes one portion)

Ingredients
  • 1 pc boneless chicken leg
  • Marinate: 1/3 cup fresh milk, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp haochi seasoning, 1 tsp sugar
  • Crumb coating: 2 tbsp panko, 2 tbsp cereal, 1 tbsp crispy powder, 1/2 tsp haochi seasoning
  • 120g Ipoh Hor Fun
  • 3-4 stalks Choy sum, cut into sections
  • Braised sauce: 1/2 cup chicken soup, 2 tsp kecap manis, 1/2 tsp haochi seasoning, corn starch slurry
Steps
  1. Combine marinate ingredients and mix well. Marinate the chicken at least 4hrs or overnight.
  2. Combine ingredients of crumb coating until well-mixed. Rub the coating onto both sides of the marinated chicken.
  3. Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until cooked and both sides golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Boil a pot of water, blanch the hor fun for 30s, remove and set aside.
  5. Using same pot of water, cook the vegetable for 1-2 mins, drain and set aside.
  6. Pour the sauce ingredients into the pot, stir till well-mixed and boil. Add corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce slightly.
  7. Place hor fun and vegetable into a serving plate and pour sauce over them. 
  8. Chop the chicken into pieces and place them into serving plate.
  9. Best serve warm, with sambal chilli and pickled green chilli.

I would say my version turned out not bad at all. The braised sauce was quite yummy and tasted great with the hor fun. The chicken chop was succulent and juice probably coz I used kampung chicken and I marinated it overnight. The coating was quite crispy as well, I think I could explore further with different types of coating like cream crackers or plain flour or tapioca starch.

I guess I would be cooking this from time to time, whenever cravings hit :)

Koh Samui March 2017 - Part I Centara Grand Beach Samui

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Last month, our family went to our favourite destination in Thailand, Koh Samui, for my birthday getaway! It's been 2 years since we last visited and all of us missed the island dearly.

As usual, I'll share my travel experience in parts because there are too many photos!

Part I - Centara Grand Beach Samui, room and facilities
Part II - Dining at Centara Grand
Part III - Market tour and cooking class at Centara Grand
Part IV - Dining at Samui (street food, Krao Chao Ban, Sabienglae, dessert) and night market

We took the afternoon flight by Bangkok Airways and landed in Samui close to evening. This time, we rented a car so that it's easier to travel around (used to rent a motorbike when only 2 of us). By the time we settled the car rental procedures and drove to Chaweng Beach, it was nightfall.


We've been to Samui many times and have stayed in different properties at Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut. (Check out my past travels to Samui here). This time we wanted to stay at Chaweng again as it's more centralised and convenient. However selecting the property to stay is always a dilemma as most of the resorts are quite dated, or otherwise very small.

We know about Centara Grand since it's a prominent property along Chaweng beach and we always passed by it. However quite hesitant to choose this resort because it's quite an old property and we thought it might be dated and worried about maintenance and cleanliness. After going through many reviews, finally decided to give it a try. Free parking is available, so it's a plus point for us.

Lobby lounge and reception *photo taken during day time.

Check-in was prompt and we were offered cold towels and iced lemongrass drink.


Elegant and airy lobby lounge.

And here's our One-Bedroom Suite! Since it was my birthday getaway, we decided to splurge a little for bigger space. The spacious living area is certainly welcoming as we could all enjoy our personal space without getting into each other's way. Anyways, there was an early bird discount for room rate :)

Although the room has a slightly dated look (we usually prefer modern furnishings), everything is very well-maintained and it felt quite cozy. Love it that there's ample seating and area for us to laze about.

The bedroom is also very spacious. I must exclaim that the super king-size bed is really comfortable, enough room for the 3 of us.

Likewise the bathroom is spacious, with an over-sized bathtub and separate shower and toilet cubicles. There's also a wardrobe and closet sufficient for our clothing and stuff.

View from the balcony. Our room was on level 2 overlooking a lush garden. Sea view is limited though. Should have requested for higher floor.

The morning after we checked-in, I received an Instay Survey via email. I merely feedback that we had thoughts about changing pillows and the bathroom sink seemed to have drainage problem. We were thinking of informing housekeeping after returning from lunch, hence didn't think much of it and went out. However, both issues were resolved by the time we returned without us prompting whatsoever. This certainly earned the resort a thumbs-up for taking initiative and responsiveness to guests' feedback.

Now for a tour of the hotel and some facilities.


Love the swimming pools here, very spacious and  water temperature was just right. With the scorching weather, it was a must for us to dip in the pool daily.



Ample deck chairs around the swimming pools, garden as well as on the beach for those keen in sunbathing.



It felt idyllic strolling around the resort grounds with its lush tropical garden blooming with lovely flora and fauna.


 Mini golf course which my kiddo liked.

 Many sports and leisure activities are offered at the Health Club.

Small playground for the kids.

 Kids Club where my kiddo enjoyed himself so much that he didn't want to leave.


Good size gym with ample sports equipment (there's another room with weight-training equipment).


Also checked out Spa Cenvaree as I was thinking of having a pampering spa session on my birthday. The staff there was so gracious and hospitable and offered a tour of the spa.


The biggest spa treatment room for 2 that comes with a private Jacuzzi tub.


Another couple spa treatment room which is slightly smaller.


Individual spa treatment room with bathtub.
 Another individual spa treatment room.


Canopy for thai-style massage.


Relaxation area.


In the end, I selected a 2.5hr treatment which consists of a scrub and signature salt pot massage.


Upon checking-in to the spa and before treatment, I was treated to a iced bluepea flower drink.

The therapist was friendly and skillful and I drifted off to sleep just minutes into the treatment.

Certainly felt rejuvenated after the pampering session and once again, treated to some tea and fruits at the relaxation lounge.

Overall, Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui certainly surpassed our expectations and in fact we are quite impressed with the property; she's considered a grand old lady but very well-maintained and doesn't look her age. And the exceptional hospitality and service standards displayed by the staff certainly left a lasting impression on us.

Hope that I've covered a good overview of the property. Next up, the dining experience at Centara Grand. Stay tuned!