27 June 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 Saturdays ago, my son's childcare centre had a Futsal event to celebrate Father's Day. Breakfast was provided, but parents were welcomed to bring additional food items to share. So I volunteered to bake some cupcakes.

Thought hard about what flavour of cupcake to bake and decided on Strawberry Cupcakes. Well, I believe most kids like strawberries? Searched the internet for suitable recipes and zoomed down to 3 recipes.

One - Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting by Milk + Honey Café.
Two - Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting by Sprinkles Cupcakes, which is featured in Oprah Show and Martha Stewart
Three - Pink Strawberry Cupcakes with Wedding Cupcake Buttercream by Recipe Girl.

The recipes by Sprinkles and Recipe Girl seem very similar when I re-calculate the base amounts, and they use pureed strawberry; whereas Milk + Honey Café uses strawberry sauce. Although I was quite tempted to try the recipe by Sprinkles since it's supposedly very good (featured by Oprah and Martha Stewart!), I decided to try the one by Milk + Honey Café first. Don't ask me why, just a gut feeling lah, I think maybe due to the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting!

Anyways, I converted the measurements to grams, made some adjustments here and there such as reducing amount of sugar and viola! The lovely and sweet Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting.

Hmmm, my frosting turned out to be very pale pink, probably not enough strawberry sauce added. Overall, the cupcake tasted light, moist and fluffy but the strawberry taste was very subtle. It could be due to the strawberries (not enough sauce added and berries not sweet/flavourful enough). The strawberries I bought tasted quite flat and a little tart in fact. It's not really the strawberry season now, I couldn't get the Korean ones which are slightly sweeter (didn't have time to visit Isetan or Meidi-ya to get the Japanese ones - plus they are very expensive); so I settled for a punnet from either South Africa or US. Not sure why, but usually the ones from South Africa or US don't taste nice although they are big and red and look nice. Or maybe I'm just unlucky.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from milk + honey café)

Makes 26 mini cupcakes

Part (1) - Strawberry Sauce
  • 250g fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  1. Remove stems from strawberries and cut the berries into half.
  2. Wash and then soak the berries with 2 tbsp of sugar for about 15 minutes.
  3. Put the strawberries in a small saucepan and cook under medium low fire with lid on.
  4. Cook the berries for about 10 minutes or till they become soft and mushy (monitor closely as the berries might burnt easily due to sugar).
  5. Let cool and blend into a puree. I get around 145g of puree. Set aside to cool down before use.
* recommend to increase amount of strawberry sauce to get more flavour. Also, try to get strawberries that are sweet and juicy.

Part (2) - Strawberry Cupcakes
  • 165g plain flour (or cake flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 100g strawberry sauce
  • 100g milk
  • 115g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Line cupcake pans with cupcake cases. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Mix milk and strawberry sauce. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugars till light and fluffy, about 3-5 mins.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time making sure each egg is well incorporated.
  6. Add flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches, alternating with the milk/sauce mixture.
  7. Mix until just combine, and end with last few folds using spatula.
  8. Scoop the batter into the cupcake cases using ice-cream scoop (to get uniform size) about 1/2 full (to get flat cupcakes) or 2/3 to 3/4 full (to get domed cupcakes).
  9. Bake for 18-20 mins. Let cool completely before piping the frosting.
 * recommend to increase amount of strawberry sauce to get more flavour.

Part (3) - Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 195g cream cheese, slightly softened but still cold
  • 50g unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cold
  • 90g icing sugar, sifted
  • 45g strawberry sauce
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese till light.
  2. Add icing sugar and beat till combined.
  3. Gradually add strawberry sauce till combined.
  4. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
* recommend to increase amount of strawberry sauce to get more flavour.

The cupcakes were a great hit nonetheless. And in fact dear son walloped 2 by himself. I'm gonna attempt the Sprinkle's recipe next, but first I have to find some nice and sweet tasting strawberries!

21 June 2013

Spa Village, Malacca

Continued from Part I.

How could I not visit Spa Village, the signature of YTL Hotels? After I checked in on Saturday, the first thing I did was to check out the spa and to make reservations. Hubby chided me for not making reservations prior to the trip since the spa is very popular and if I were to miss the chance, I have only myself to blame :(((

Indeed Saturday's fully booked, luckily Sunday morning (before checkout) still available so I quickly made a reservation. Also requested to tour around the spa which the friendly receptionist gladly obliged :)

Spa Village, Malacca entrance and reception. Love the porcelain flooring!

The friendly spa receptionist in nonya sarong kebaya.

Some merchandise on sale.

The relaxation lounge area. All spa customers were invited to relax at the lounge before and after treatment. Love the comfy day bed. Unfortunately the lounge faces the pool and some kids were playing in the pool so not really peaceful and quiet unlike other Spa Village.

Spa treatment room.

This is the spa suite meant for couples.

I booked the signature Nutmeg-Rice Rolling Massage. Warm nutmeg and rice are massaged onto the body to reduce aches and rid wind from the muscles, just what I need to relieve my stiff shoulders and back.

My appointment was about 10am (after breakfast). Was led to the changing room to change into comfy bathrobe then proceeded to the relaxation lounge.

Was served a cold towel, water and an orange?! prior to the treatment. Didn't take the orange, a little weird I thought.

My therapist first started a pre-treatment experience of soothing hair care ritual which included washing, combing and scalp massage. Ahhh, blissful! There's a small TV screen fixed to the ceiling for guests to enjoy during the hair wash but they were showing a very old black and white Malay dance -_-"
The pair of wooden comb used by the therapist to comb my hair was gifted to me at the end of the treatment.

After the pre-treatment hair ritual, was led to the spa treatment room where the therapist worked her magic to sooth my stiff muscles. I must compliment the skills of the therapist, and the nutmeg-rice was indeed warming and soothing to the body. I totally love this signature massage!

After the treatment, was served a pot of hot Chinese tea and some achar (pickled vegetables).
Overall, was really pleased with the spa experience, Spa Village certainly lives up to its name! Not sure when I would visit again, probably some other YTL property for different Spa Village experience.

17 June 2013

The Majestic Hotel, Melaka - March 2013

Oh dear me, this is such a belated post, late for 3 months!!

For my birthday this year, we decided to do a short 2D1N road trip to Melaka. Initially was thinking of staying at Casa Del Rio which is located just next to Jonker Street. We stayed there previously and loved the convenience, overall furnishing of the hotel, moreover dear son loved the oversized bathtub.

But I wanted to try The Majestic which is a YTL property (we've been to 2 other YTL properties - Tanjong Jara Resort and Cameron Highlands Resort and were quite impressed by the service and overall ambiene and furnishing. Even though the location is rather inconvenient, I was keen to check it off my to-stay list in Melaka and more importantly, try the Spa Village. Have had heavenly experience at Spa Village Cameron Highlands and Tanjong Jara before, so Spa Village is a must-try for me! Well, take it as a birthday pampering treat :)

The entrance to the car park is located at a different road from the actual hotel entrance, and easy to miss but luckily I spotted it just in time. And I also spotted the coffee shop that we wanted to try, just at the entrance to the car park.

The boutique hotel consists of 2 buildings, the main building where the reception and restaurant are, is originally a Peranakan mansion dated back in 1920s. The new building is an addition, houses 54 rooms and suites, and mirrors the original architecture of the old building.

Gonna love the cream and teal exterior of the main building.

The moment we entered the main lobby, we were greeted warmly by 2 friendly doorman/concierge and instantly fell in love with the furnishing, which has such an old world charm.

The staircase next to the reception leads to the restaurant.

The bar area. I love those pendant lamps.

Comfy sofas around the lobby area, for guests to relax. Afternoon tea is served here as well.

After the check-in procedures, we were led to our deluxe room.

The four poster bed looks so inviting, the first thing dear son did was to jump onto it. Luckily I stopped him just in time for a quick snap.

The lounge sofa overlooks part of the river, I love lazing about there.

The bathroom is an open-concept, with sliding doors that we could open all the way to sort of adjourn the bathroom and the bedroom. Good thing about this, we could monitor dear son while he plays in the tub. The over-sized bathtub is a favourite for dear son, it looks very much like ceramic but surprisingly is plastic!

We were served welcome Chinese tea by the staff.

As for facilities, there's a dip pool, about 1.2m deep, and a small gym.

The dining room known as The Mansion, serves breakfast and dinner. We only had our breakfast there the next morning. For dinner, we wanted to try the Chinese stall, Restoran Lee at the nearby coffee shop which is supposedly very good.

Breakfast is included in the room rate. It's semi buffet style, tea, coffee and juices are served at the table, bakery items and some hot food items like nasi lemak and fried noodles, as well as fruits and yogurt are served at the buffet table. In addition, we could order eggs, omelette, French toast, waffles etc. which would be cooked by the chef.

Modest selection of bread and bakery items.

Assorted cereal, milk and yogurt.

Nasi Lemak with curry chicken and condiments.

Fried noodles.

Assorted tropical fruits.

My order, 2 sunny side-up with hashbrown, sausage, bacon and grilled tomato. The eggs were mostly eaten by dear son.

The nasi lemak and fried noodles were not bad.

But honestly, we didn't have such a good impression of breakfast. Thought that as a YTL property, they could do better, as in we had better experience at Cameron Highlands Resort and Tanjong Jara Resort. Firstly, there weren't enough baby chairs, good thing they provided cushions for dear son to sit on. Breakfast service was slow, the orders took a while to arrive and the kitchen delivered wrong order for hubby (he wanted soft boil egg and they served hard boil). Buffet items were limited with slow refills.

Restoran Lee which is recommended by C, and also received good reviews on tripadvisor.

Stir fried sweet potato leaves, very tender.

Fried egg with prawn for dear son. The eggs were very fluffy, surprisingly good for such a simple dish.

Stir fried deer meat with spring onion and ginger. The meat was tender and the sauce very tasty, goes well with rice!

The star of the meal, fried crab cooked in milk. It's not really like butter crabs, it tasted rich and milky, yet spicy but not too overwhelming on the palate. And toast is served together (to dip the sauce in). Very unique indeed! We like! The meal however was not cheap (can't remember the price now), I guess coz of the crab. Well, it beats eating at the Portuguese settlement (which we didn't have a good experience previously).

After the hearty dinner, we decided to walk to Jonker Street to help in digestion, but it was quite a long walk, took about 30 mins. As usual the night market area was too crowded and we just walked for a while, ate a bowl of iced chendol and took a cab back to the hotel to rest for the night.

Up next, my experience at Spa Village Malacca. Stay tuned!

12 June 2013

Rose Petal Shortbread

I seemed to be baking a lot of cookies these days. I find that I'm constantly looking for something crunchy or crispy whether savoury or sweet to munch on, so I guess cookies satisfy the cravings other than chips :p

Saw this recipe on the May 2013 issue of Food & Travel and decided to give it a try since I do have a bottle of Nissey Massay Rose Extract sitting in the fridge from a previous cupcake bake.

For the rose petals, initially I bought a pack of dried rose buds from a chinese herbal provision shop but I find the aroma a little weird. Those found in Chinese herbal shops is typically used for soups. In the end, I bought a bottle of gourmet dried edible rose petals which is very costly. It's only much later that I manage to find rose petal tea at a much affordable price.

The baking process was fairly straightforward, the dough was a little wet so it was essential to first roll the dough into individual logs and then freeze the logs for ease of cutting. That said, the cookie will still spread a little during baking. The aroma of the rose was intoxicating and my entire house was filled with the lovely scent. Texture of the cookie was light and brittle, like that of shortbread and I love the distinct taste of rose.

The dough keeps well in the freezer so it's possible to make a big batch and freeze the dough for smaller batch baking. And the cookies keep quite well in airtight container. I have a tub (reduced to a few pieces) for almost 2 weeks now and they are still good.

Rose Petal Shortbread
(Recipe from food&travel magazine May 2013 issue - Allan Bakes Really Good Treats)
Makes 30-40 cookies, about 4cm diameter
  • 185g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, zest
  • 1 tbsp dried edible rose petals, tear into tiny pieces
  • 175g unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cold, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp rose extract
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree Celsius. Line baking tray with baking paper or Silpat.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together 2 times. Then sift in the icing sugar and mix well.
  3. Add lemon zest and rose petals. Mix well.
  4. Add butter cubes and rub into flour mixture (using hands or spatula). Add rose extract and mix till dough forms. The dough will be malleable and slightly wet texture.
  5.  Divide the dough into 3 portions. Place each portion on a freezer bag, roll into 3-cm diameter logs, wrap around using the freezer bag and freeze for minimum 30 mins.
  6. Unwrap chilled logs and cut into 0.5cm slices. Arrange on lined baking tray and place 2 cm apart as the dough will spread a little.
  7. Bake for 10-12 mins, or until shortbread is browned. Watch closely from the 10th minute onwards.
  8. Leave shortbread to cool completely before keeping in airtight container.

60 coarse sugar
1 tbsp dried rose buds
100ml boiling water

There's an optional step in the recipe. Place dried rose buds in boiling water and seep for 30 mins, let cool completely before using. Discard rose buds. After cutting the dough into discs and before sending to bake, dip each disc into the rose water, and sprinkle some coarse sugar onto the cookie surface.

I tried making a few cookies with the optional step and found it to be redundant. The rose water didn't make much difference as the cookie was already very fragrant (probably coz I used rose extract). The coarse sugar made the cookie top crunchy but it also made the sugar much sweeter which I didn't want.

I'm selling these cookies, whether in box or small packaging. Pls email me at dreamersloft@gmail.com if interested!