Chocolate Soufflé Cookies

These chocolate soufflé cookies are pretty much my favorite cookies.  They are so simple, made with just a few ingredients and yet have such deep rich delicate flavors.  It is like eating brownies, chocolate macaroons and cookies all at the same time.  Isn’t that amazing?

A big plus benefit for these cookies is that they don’t require any flour, which means they are gluten free! 

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If you frequent a coffee shop or bakery, you might have noticed there are always “flourless chocolate cookies” displayed on the shelves, which look so fancy and delicate, and of course, so expensive too. 

Yep, they are the chocolate soufflé cookies we are making here today.  Let’s get started!

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The recipe is adapted from:https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/chocolate-souffle-cookies.  Many thanks and appreciation to the original author!

 

Ingredients :

1 cup dark chocolate chips/ pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
a few drops of lemon juice / white vinegar
3/4 cup finely chopped walnut

****Tip:Chocolate is the most important ingredient in this recipe.  Chocolate determines the finished cookies’ flavor and texture.  The better quality the chocolate is, the better taste the cookies will be. 

I use 90% cacao chocolate.  If you prefer sweeter taste, 70% to 80% will be great too.  ****

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 176C

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  It might seem lumpy at first.

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In a few minutes, the chocolate will become silky and smooth.

With a sharp knife, finely chop the walnut.

Add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar to the egg whites.  With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites at low speed for a couple minutes.  Add 1/3 of the sugar, continue to whisk at medium speed for a minute.  Repeat the process until all the sugar is added and egg white is stiff.

With a silicone spatula, fold the chopped walnuts into chocolate mixture.

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Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites.

It might be a bit dry and hard at first. 

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This is what it looks like after I fold in the first 1/3 egg whites.

Add another 1/3 egg whites, and fold in very gently.

Continue folding the remaining egg whites, along with vanilla extract. 

The batter should be smooth and shiny.

Transfer the batter to a large piping bag.

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Pipe the cookie dough to a cookie pan lined with silicone baking mat.  Each drop of cookie dough is about 3 tablespoons and 1 1/2 inches apart from each other.

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Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Wait for the cookies to cool on the cookie pan.  Carefully remove them with a spatula.

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And now go make yourself a fresh pot of black coffee and enjoy these heavenly chocolate soufflé cookies!  O(∩_∩)O~

Chocolate Marshmallows

中文菜谱: 巧克力棉花糖

When we were living in Michigan, we went camping a lot in the summer time.  And we always built a camp fire by the lake.  It was for fun, but also for cooking and grilling too. O(∩_∩)O~

Camp fires in summer night were really beautiful.  Firewood we bought was mostly pinewood.  It gave out a very pleasant aroma when burning. 

Michigan has some of the purest lakes I have ever seen.  Many lakes in northern Michigan are crystal clear.  We were lucky to have seen some peaceful and sparkling night sky like this. 

We built camp fires in day time too, mostly for cooking and grilling. 

(For one of detailed camping trip journals, go to:Interlochen camping & boatinghttps://www.yankitchen.com/english-blog/camping5

I learn from our many camping trips that camp fire is very essential to a successful camping trip.  The fire provides warmth and light during long nights and also good for cooking and grilling in the daytime.  And s’more is the most perfect dessert by the fire.  Any camping trips with camping fire and fire-roasted marshmallows cannot be considered perfect. O(∩_∩)O~

It takes patience and experience to roast the marshmallows.  These cute tiny fluffy candies are very easy to burn.  If not roasted enough, the chocolate in the s’more would not melt. 

So I have been thinking what if I can add chocolate into the marshmallows?  By doing so, the marshmallows and chocolate would be roasted at the same time, so that they should both melt perfectly. 

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The marshmallow recipe is adapted from Atlon Brown from Foodnetwork (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe-1953933).  I use 2/3 of all ingredients from original recipe, and make a little bit change.

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Ingredients:

2 packages of plain gelatin (7g / package)
2/3 cold water
8 oz granulated sugar(about 227g)
2/3 light corn syrup
a pinch salt
2/3 teaspoon coffee rum
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 cup 60% cocoa chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Add 1/3 cup cold water to stand mixer’s mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin on top.  Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Shift both corn starch and powdered sugar together.

 Grease a glass container on bottom and sides.  And then coat with starch sugar mixture. 

Add the remaining 1/3 cup cold water to a small pot, along with sugar, corn syrup and salt. 

Cook over medium heat.

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Cook until the candy thermometer shows syrup reaches 240F/ 115.5C. Remove from heat.  

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Turn the stand mixer on low speed.  Gradually add sugar syrup down the side of bowl.  Be sure not to pour the syrup on the moving whisk.  The hot syrup could be very dangerous to anyone standing nearby. 

When all the syrup is added to stand mixer bowl, turn the speed to its highest to whisk for 12 to 15 minutes.  The longer it whisks, the firmer marshmallows would be. 

Add chocolate chips in the last minute.

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With a greased spatula, scrape marshmallow mixture to prepared container.  Level the top with spatula and then sprinkle a thin layer of starch sugar mixture.

Let the marshmallow mixture cool for a few hours or overnight before cut it with a sharp knife.

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It has been very fun to make marshmallows from scratch.

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Roast chocolate over charcoal fire.  Guess what?  It turns out awesome!  Both marshmallow and chocolate chips are roasted and melt perfectly!   

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How good does that look? O(∩_∩)O~

Oven-roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have been such a favorite root vegetable in Asian countries that we often use them in all kinds of sautés, soups, congees, desserts, and even drinks!  Yes, that is right, in drinks.  Sweet potato puree is a popular topping for milk teas.   Next time when you are in an Asian teashop, try it.  It is way better than you can imagine.

When winter comes, fire oven roasted sweet would be a seasonal hit.  They are hot and sweet, covered with caramelized skins.  So tasty! O(∩_∩)O~

Fire oven roasted sweet potatoes are very hard to find in America.  So I bake them in small toaster oven. 

The best ones for toaster oven I can find are Japanese sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes with red skins.  The Japanese sweet potatoes are sold in most Asian grocery stores.  But the purple sweet potatoes are not that common.  If you are in Houston area like me, try Sprouts, Central Market and Wholefoods market.  

I posted Dried Purple Sweet Potates before: https://www.yankitchen.com/english-blog/2018/2/27/dried-purple-sweet-potatoes

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Rinse both sweet potatoes under running water.  Pat dry with kitchen paper towel.

Preheat the toaster oven to 450F/ 232C  

Add sweet potatoes to the oven.

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Bake for about 90 minutes.  The baking time may vary depending on the toaster ovens and the sizes of sweet potatoes.

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There is sweet and warming aroma in the house when sweet potatoes are being baked.

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Purple sweet potatoes are a little bit drier than Japanese sweet potatoes.  But they are both quite sweet and tasty.

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Flaky Asian Buns with Red Bean Paste and Salted Duck Egg Yolks

中文菜谱:

豆沙蛋黄酥

Flaky buns are very popular in Asian countries.  Literally every bakery sells them.  The recipes and fillings vary from bakery to bakery.  Some popular choices are sweet red bean paste, lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, and even savory ground pork filling.

I like to bake my own instead buying them from store.  They are best when they are freshly out the oven, piping hot.  But it is very hard to get such perfect timing when buying from store.

The recipe was posted a long time ago here: Flower Shape Pastry Cookies with Red Bean Filling.  I use it every time I make flaky buns at home. Therefore I think I can proudly announce this is a time-tested solid recipe O(_)O~

Salted duck egg yolks are available in frozen food section in most Asian grocery stores.  Sometimes I make salt duck eggs from scratch.  They look and taste much better.  But the thing with homemade salted duck eggs is that it takes one month to marinate.  That is a long waiting time.  I usually go with store-bought version if I have a sudden crave and can’t wait 30 days.

Ingredients for the flaky buns:

150 g all purpose flour
105 g lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil
40 g powder sugar
70 g water
110 g cake flour

For the filling

Salted duck egg yolks (12 to 15 yolks)
red bean paste (homemade or store bought from Asian grocery store)
egg yolk wash
black sesame seeds

 

Directions

Although you can use lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil to make the cookies, lard is always the preferable choice because of its major role in making these buns’ flaky and air-like layers while no other oil/ fat can do the same.

The easiest way to get pure lard is to make it yourself at home.

Pork lard is sold by pound in Asian grocery stores.  And this is how it looks like.

With a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces.

Add pork lard pieces to a cast iron pan/ wok, along with 1/4 cup water.

Heat the pan over medium heat.  The water will gradually evaporate as cooking process going on.

When the pork lard pieces shrink in sizes and turn into light golden brown color, remove pan from heat.  Allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 20 minutes. 

Drain pork fat liquid.  Reserve what is needed for this recipe.  Store the rest in Mason jar.  Seal and refrigerate after it is totally cooled down.

In a medium bowl, add 55g lard, all purpose flour, powder sugar and water.   Whisk with a wooden spoon or chop sticks until all ingredients come together.  Knead with hands until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This is dough NO 1.

In another bowl, add 50 g lard and cake flour.  With a wooden spoon, mix flour and lard until they are well blended.  This is dough NO 2.

I always make my own red bean paste.  And I posted how to make red bean paste from scratch before: Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Everything is ready

Preheat the oven to 400F/204C

Divide dough NO 1 into 20 g/ each piece; dough NO 2 into 10 g/ each; and red bean paste into 30 g/ each.  Roll each of them into small dough balls.

Punch down each red bean paste balls and wrap the salted duck egg yolks with red bean paste.  Shape each pieces back into round red bean balls again.

Take one piece of dough NO 1; press it down with your palm; wrap it around one piece of dough NO 2; seal the edges; and roll it into a ball shape again.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough ball into 3 mm thin, roll it up from one end, cover with plastic wrap and repeat the process again 10 minutes later.  It is kind of similar to making croissants.

Press the dough down a little bit with a rolling pin or your palm.  Fold two ends towards center.  Press it down again and then roll it into 1/4 inch thin.  Place a red bean paste ball in the center.  Wrap it up and seal the edge with your fingers.  Roll it into a round dough ball. 

Repeat the process until all the dough balls are done.

Press down the dough balls a little bit between palms.  Add to a cookie pan lined with silicone mat.  

Brush with egg yolk wash and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bun tops are golden brown.

These are some fine delicate and flaky buns! O(∩_∩)O~

The layers are really amazing.

Black tea or coffee is perfect for these sweet little flaky buns.

The best part is the flaky layers.  They are delicate, slightly sweet and of course, very flaky. Take a bite, and the layers crumble between teeth, and in your mouth, and maybe all over you O(∩_∩)O~

Salted duck egg yolks and red bean paste may sound a bizarre combination, but it works!  The two together create a savory sweet excellent balance and flavor.

Ok, if you don’t want to go through all the kneading and baking process listed above but still want to know what they taste like, grab you car key and drive to a nearby authentic Asian bakery.  Remember the key word is authentic!  Buy one in store that is freshly out of oven, and you will know how good it is; and most likely you will agree with me that all the effort I go through to make them fresh at home is well worthy O(∩_∩)O~

Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Last time I posted sweet rice dumplings with pork and mung beans wrapped in bamboo leaves .  They are savory and tasty.  And I make another batch of sweet ones this time with red beans.

Red bean is one of the most popular dessert ingredients in Asia.  After long simmering time, red beans become soft and smooth.  By adding oil and sugar, we can get creamy and silky red bean paste which is good for all kinds of pastry goods. 

Besides red beans, I also add jujubes and lotus seeds.  These two may sound rare and exotic to American people, but they are widely used and have been very popular in Asian countries too.  The combination of them together with red beans paste is pretty tasty and awesome.

Ingredients for sweet rice dumplings:

3 cups of sweet rice
1 package of split pitted jujubes(10 oz, 283g)
2/3 cup of fresh lotus seeds (sold in refrigerate food section in Asian grocery stores)
red bean paste
large bamboo leaves
water as needed

 

Ingredients for red bean paste:

1/2 cup small red beans
1/2 to 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown cane sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
water as needed

 

Directions:

These are the red beans and split pitted jujubes I buy from Asian grocery stores.  

Preparing red bean paste a day or two ahead of time would be a good idea.

Soak the red beans in water for 3 to 4 hours.  Add to a small pot with water.  Cook over medium low heat until the beans become very soft.

Use a vitamix blender to puree the beans. 

Add the puree to a non-stick skillet.  Cook over medium low heat.  Stir with wooden spoon from time to time.

Add 1/3 of oil and dark brown cane sugar.  Stir until they are absorbed by the red bean paste.  And then add another 1/3.  Repeat the process one more time after that.   

Finally the red bean paste is sweet, silky, and smooth.  It is done when the bean paste can maintain its shape.

Remove from heat.  Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Soak the sweet rice for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain well and fold in washed jujubes and lotus seeds.

The fresh lotus seeds are available in only a few Asian markets.  They are kind of hard to find.  If you can’t find them, you can just leave them out, or substitute with dry lotus seeds rehydrated in water for a couple hours.  The dry ones shall be available in all Asian grocery stores no matter how small the store is.  That is how much we love these tiny louts seeds O(∩_∩)O~

Soak dry bamboo leaves in water until well rehydrated.  Rinse well under running water.  Blanch the bamboo leaves in hot boiling water for a few seconds.  Drain and set aside for later use.

Fold every two bamboo leaves into a cone shape; add a couple tablespoons sweet rice with jujubes and lotus seeds.

Add a tablespoon of red bean paste

Cover with a thin layer of sweet rice mixture

Fold the bamboo leaves on top and wrap it up

Secure with cotton twine

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All done!

I use a Staub 5.75 quarts cast iron dutch oven here.  Fill the pot with water. Cook over high heat until it boils.  Cover with lid and reduce the heat to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours.

Drain well and allow the dumplings to cool down before serving them.

Unwrap the dumplings before consuming.  Sweet rice become sticky and glutinous when cooked.  The whole dumpling taste sweet, tender, silky and delicious! 

BTW, freshly homemade red bean paste is much better than the store-bought version in every way.  Red bean paste is the key ingredient here.  The extra effort to make it from scratch at home totally enhances the flavor, big time! O(∩_∩)O~