Fudge Brownie Waffles

3244539 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I had the pleasure of being interviewed earlier on in the week by the lovely Rachel Loh, the name behind lifestyle blog Willow. Working on the theme of disconnection, it boasts a bevy of detail I would not typically reveal online, even in my instagram posts or elsewhere. It was so much fun answering and I would love for you to check it out here.

 

So last Saturday I came back from a rather disappointing visit to a relatively new café, and needed a fresh pick-me-up in the sweltering heat. But the heat also means light, and I’ve found great solace in my mornings alone journalling, the light yellowing the pages, coming and leaving of its own accord.

As it appears, flowers still grow in the dessert. This recipe was borne out of angry determination; I oft find myself thinking about veganism and how it should be made approachable or the norm to more people around me, and figured introducing classic favourites is the way to go. Who in their right mind would refuse a good, gooey brownie? Forget about it being ethical or healthy or whatnot, it tastes good, right? Food opinions are volatile, changed by taste alone. The line between veganism and sin-like lusciousness and satisfaction must be blurred. I never wanted to go vegan for the longest time because my idea of vegan food was worms and cardboard. That’s what some vegan cakes really taste like, anyway. But this is never always the case. Surprise yourself, and surprise others.

 

4294905 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Simply put, the highlight of anyone’s day.

The theme is approachability, guys. This is the sin everyone is looking for in an acceptable form. Double chocolate brownie waffles studded with chocolate, crisp-edged with a tender, gooey middle.

It’s not just a one-bowl wonder, it’s a time-saving wonder. If you’re like me and typically have to rush off to work by 8.30am in the morning, simply make the batter in less than 5 minutes the night before, let rest in the fridge overnight and scoop out batter for the waffle-maker the next morning. You could even just bake these for fudge brownie cookies in a 180C oven for 10 minutes. I say that like I actually did it, but do tell me if they work, because I can’t be the only one to have fun while making some (necessary) mistakes, right? The batter is like unexpected cash, you can do way more with it than you might initially think. For example, I made a fudge brownie waffle sundae by sandwiching two waffle bits with coconut ice cream (I love Luna and Larry’s!) and drizzling it with some chocolate sauce, which I made just by mixing some cocoa powder, icing sugar and almond milk together. How wonderful is experimentation. How life-giving and meditative.

3314541 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset4270594 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Ingredients (makes 6-7 medium-sized waffles)

125g all-purpose (plain flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

30g cacao/cocoa powder

1 large mashed banana (125g), or two small mashed ones. Alternatively, you could use the same weight of applesauce.

40g (a large handful) of vegan chocolate chips, I used these

40g white/coconut/maple sugar

 

Directions

Simply put all ingredients in a bowl and mix until everything comes together. Turn your waffle-maker on and let it heat up according to its instruction manual. Grease it well! Take a heaped tablespoonful of the chocolate batter and put it in the centre of your waffle maker and let cook on a medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes. This is important in making sure your waffles turn out as crisp as possible, You can check after 3 minutes– if the waffles still feel soft to touch then leave it for another few minutes.

Separate your waffles with paper towels to absorb any condensation. You can freeze these waffles for future consumption or leave at room temperature in an airtight container for 1-2 days. If eating the next day and the waffles are left out on the counter, toast them for those crisp edges once more; they would’ve softened within the day.

And now for some fun!

If you’re making a waffle sundae (as pictured above), simply sandwich two waffles or waffle halves with some dairy-free ice cream and drizzle with some chocolate sauce. I did this by mixing a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder, 3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar and a couple teaspoons of almond milk. Play around until you get a relatively thick, dribbling consistency.

 

 

Pancake Plum Cookies

3100460 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Mistakes, as I have mentioned time and time again, are not an unwelcome guest in the kitchen.

So that’s how it started. What meant to be something turned into something else, and that was more welcome than ever. As I fiddled in the kitchen, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and gratefulness. It has been a while since I’ve done so here in London, after long-haul flights and crazy flying foxes and head-banging school-related shenanigans. What a relief it was to be there, just there in the kitchen, putting together a dough and tending to it after the oven’s cradling.

Here I have some pancake cookies, because, well, that’s pretty much what they taste and look like! With insufficient flour for what I originally wanted to make (kolaczki), I decided to give what seemed to be an overly-wet dough a chance at life. The consistency reminded me of the pancakes I love to make (find my favourite recipe here) minus its signature fluff.

2929666 Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Incredibly easy to put together and a dream to bite into, seriously. The crumb is perfect when not baked for more than 15 minutes, like a sweet shortcrust with a little give, cream cheese making it tender and so texturally pleasing. Plum ties it all together, like the ribbon on top. I don’t know about you guys but I always feel as if something sweet fares better, at least by a little, when jazzed up with a bit of tang. Yoghurt or a citrusy fruit or something. It’s optional of course, but highly recommended.

The messiness here says nothing. Make these, then get back to me.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Pancake plum cookies (makes 10-12 medium cookies)

Ingredients

110g cream cheese at room temperature (sub: vegan cream cheese)

110g unsalted butter (sub: vegan butter like Earth Balance)

100g castor sugar (sub: same amount of coconut or maple sugar– works!)

270g plain flour (sub: half gluten-free flour)

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg (sub: vegan egg replacement or flax egg)

80g (1/4 cup) jam of choice, I used strawberry

sliced plum (I used a few small plums, and more because those things are too darn delicious to just leave alone naked on the counter)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease or line two baking tins. Or make the dough the night before and bake it in the morning, which is what I did the second time roundIn a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg. Add the flour until you get a rather soft and sticky dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours (or overnight if you wish to bake in the morning).

When ready to bake, ready your trays and slice your plums into thin, small slices. Pluck chunks off the dough and roll each into balls of around 2 inches wide. Flatten into 3-inch cookies and place onto the baking trays, then dollop some jam of your choice onto the middle of the cookie, spreading it a little but not letting it get too close to the edges. Depending on the size of your cookies, the amount of jam you need on top will differ. Lay 2-3 small plum slices on top. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until you can see the edges turning crisp and brown.

Enjoy with tea and a good book. Or… The new Series of Unfortunate Events!! I have to say I was a little overly psyched when I saw this on Netflix, for I lived and breathed the Baudelaires during a significant part of my childhood. As excited as Excited can get.

Coconut Molasses Cake

Or The First Cake I Made In a Long Time During a Family Holiday, because it sounds 100 times more special that way.

A bit more than a while. That would be a good way to describe this period of absence. The air is heavy with moisture and the air con remote is a touch too far. Sweat is threatening to ruin the afternoon, but I’m learning to be ok with that again. The heat is foreign, but this is home. It has been too long since Home. Having just touched down here after a 10-day trip to New Zealand, it all does feel a little strange; the past couple of months have been saturated with train hopping and exploring more of the never-touched or heard or loved. From London to Germany to Austria and New Zealand. Never has a heart been so full or a conscience so sharp. I miss it, but Home is lovely and missed, too. Soon the plane will be calling again, and the suitcase will be bursting at the seams. Now? Now is for Here. And that means reminiscing the sweetness of the long gone with the pictures you see below, starting with Germany and ending with Queenstown. It’s a story starting with rustic pre-Christmas German charm, bellies warm with mulled wine and lips sweetened with lebkuchen (gosh I miss that so much already), then sun and adrenalin shaking up the frame in a town of all-smiles.

dscf9229dscf9192dscf9210

dscf9161dscf9194

~

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 presetdscf9450dscf9580dscf9667Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

In short, a whirlwind of a year. From travelling a lot more to publishing my first book, to more moments of simultaneous despondence and ecstasy, to meeting someone special, doubting and then hoping, and then ultimately trusting. I have my doubts, like those concerning the western world and North Korea and the circulation of science and technology in the hands of people most can’t will themselves to trust. But perhaps the silver lining is trust. A lot of hope is stabilised with just that– trust in oneself, in those who love you, in love itself.

11.49pm. 11 minutes to 2017, here in Singapore at least, and I sit here reminiscing bits and bobs and splatters of time, grateful for what has gone and what has to come. What exactly remains unsaid, and that’s the way it will always be. The most important thing is to be wild, be the best of yourself. As of now there is no standard list of resolutions, no I Will Be Fitter or even a I Will Be Better or I Will Stop Judging and Being a Bad Sister. Which sounds ridiculous, like I’m some downgraded version of yesteryears, the worst of all the possible Alex’s. But I see the new year as a chance to hone previously set goals, and to love what I love with even more fervour and passion. I want to continue the upkeep of this blog, to weave stories of food and knowledge and life and love and science. To understand, then create. To explore and wander.

The last morning in New Zealand came and I decided to make something simple but festive. A tribute to both Christmas and New Year’s, with a gold sparkle and kick.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The top is crispy, the middle mottled with brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and plenty of desiccated coconut. A bite takes you to a good middle state of longing and bliss– post-Christmas, Pre-NYE. This is perfect with coffee (or champagne, hey), a dollop of yoghurt of coconut cream, and more grated coconut on top.

11.59.

Coconut Molasses Cake

Ingredients

260g all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda (alternatively, use self-raising flour and leave out the leavening agents)

pinch salt

160g sugar– 125g white and 35g soft brown sugar (subs: coconut/maple sugar)

1 tsp each of ginger and cinnamon (optional)

130g butter (sub: vegan butter/ Earth balance/ coconut oil)

120ml blackstrap molasses

120ml milk of choice (normal/plant-based)

100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

2 eggs (sub: flax eggs– make one by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for at least 5 minutes)

 

Directions

In a microwave, heat together the water and butter until both are melted. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 9×9 or 7×13-inch baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter-water mix, then mix in the rest of the ingredients on the list. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes, then take out and leave to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with coconut cream or yoghurt, grated dark chocolate and more desiccated coconut.

 

Overnight Vegan PB&J Chocolate Coconut Babka

dscf9046

In the wake of weird, let’s bake. Let’s have some sweet to go round, softening the edges of confusion. Though I am no savvy politician, I simply can’t see why decisions have solidified as such. The morning throbbed with trepidation. But it’s up to us to look up, look ahead.

dscf9029dscf9031dscf9033

Babka has been on my mind for a long time! There is so much about it to love. A tender fluffy crumb, the endless combinations of swirl and filling (chocolate and nuts is the traditional fave–a bulging filling at that), a possible icing, knowing full well it pairs perfectly with any steaming holiday-themed beverage…

So you make the dough, let it rest because you have stuff to do for the night, put it all together first thing in the morning, or perhaps 2 days later because you’re off for work at 7 the next morning and can’t be arsed to dress up some bread (and that’s ok!), then bake it, all the while smiling at the fact that the whole put-babka-together-and-roll dance occupied the time it would take to make any other meal, or maybe less.  The whole weekend I was seriously craving some peanut butter and jam action, and because I tend to like chocolate with anything too, and coconut because live life on the edge, I decided to throw in some chocolate coconut action into the game as well.

A soft, tender, sweet yeasted babka filled with peanut butter, jam, chopped chocolate, chocolate coconut spread, topped with a coconut milk glaze. 

dscf9040dscf9041dscf9044

Swell morning.

I did mention veganising most, if not all my recipes from now on in my previous post, because accommodation isn’t illegal, and it’s actually really darn fun; not having eggs or dairy by mistake doesn’t mean it’s the end of humanity as we know it. You’re cutting down on ingredients, and replacing the necessaries with other cheap, easily-found ingredients. With my recent vegan endeavours, most of my meat-eating fanatics simply can’t tell the difference, unsuspecting of zilch gram of egg or meat or butter in there. Sometimes they beat the originals. It’s an enthralling process. Of course, this need not be completely vegan, so feel free to use butter instead of Earth Balance etc.

This. Babka. Sweet, buttery bread cradles nuts from your chunky breakfast spread, darkened selectively in places oozing with textured chocolate, hardened by the oven but molten in the centre. The coconut milk glaze glides over every crevice, letting the coconut-flavoured lashings of chocolate smushed on the inside sing.

dscf9045dscf9046

Take a bite, then sip your coffee. Saccharine bliss. This post is dedicated to my first #VirtualCoffeeParty, as well as to my dear friend Ella, who’s birthday is today.

Overnight PB&J Vegan Chocolate Coconut Babka (makes one loaf, or 6 thick slices)

Ingredients

For the dough:

250g flour

1 tbsp instant yeast

pinch of salt

45g applesauce

50g Earth Balance (or butter, or any vegan butter)

40g sugar (coconut sugar here would be great)

90ml plant or nut milk of choice (or plain milk)

For the chocolate coconut sauce:

100g chopped dark chocolate

1 tsp coconut essence

*alternatively, use a ready-made chocolate coconut sauce, like Sweet Freedom’s Choc Shot (mmmmmmmm)

For the filling:

110g chunky peanut butter

6-7 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam

100g chopped dark chocolate

For the glaze:

100g icing sugar

3 tbsp coconut milk

 

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt together the butter/Earth Balance and milk of choice.

In a separate large bowl, add the flour, yeast, applesauce, sugar and pinch of salt. Mix together briefly, then add the milk-butter mixture and knead for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a ball, put the dough back in the bowl and leave in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.

The next morning, spray a pan and heat your oven to 200C. Make the chocolate coconut sauce– simply microwave together the ingredients and set aside for the timebeing. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface, into a rectangle slightly longer than the pan itself. Spread the peanut butter on the dough leaving a one-inch margin all round, then the jam, then the chocolate and chocolate coconut sauce. Roll the dough along its length so you get a long cylinder, then cut a slit down the middle lengthwise. Twist the dough, sort of like in a braiding fashion, then put onto your pan. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then bake for 25-30 minutes in your preheated oven.

While it’s in the oven, whisk together the coconut milk and icing sugar. Once baked, let it sit for 10 minutes before drizzling on the glaze, cutting and serving. Y-U-M.

Kaya Avocado Nut Butter Cakes

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

A homemade gift goes far. In Tuesday’s case, it was my Grandma’s homemade kaya, or coconut jam, lugged all the way from Singapore when my mum came to visit just a few weeks earlier. It was the exact same recipe for the green batch of love I played around with for my kaya maple loaf cake, the recipe for which you can find on Amazon as I speak!! Whew, rush rush rush. Anyways, a throwback was in demand as I held the tubs of curdled emerald goodness. Once again, an odd combination formed the scaffold of more funny kitchen business.

I occasionally find myself refusing to go against instinct for the fast and funny. As a student, the will to carve out day-long space is for something in total artistic favour is admittedly a little impractical with coursework and intense lecture review. There is indeed worth in all that labour, and I look forward to when I can do so without a penny of guilt eating away at the back of my head. It is true creative catharsis.

So you whisk together the dry and wet, fill half your cake molds with the final batter, add a teaspoon of nut butter of choice, then continue filling, then bake. The combination of kaya and avocado was approved by my skeptical flatmate. The best bit, I personally think, is the crusty sugar outside of the whole cake. Mmmmm. Kaya is sweet and, depending on the way you make it or the brand you buy, very coconutty, as green as the pandan leaves used to flavour the homely concoction of coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Avocado pretty much substituted most of the butter in this case, so the final texture of the cake was incredibly tender but not reminiscent of your typical cupcake, which might leave a buttery crumb. Pressing this will leave your fingers dry (and beautifully scented), yet the mouthfeel is airy and moist.

As I’ve touched on before, I do enjoy eating and making vegan meals and desserts, especially after all those silencing documentaries and Youtube lectures I’ve watched on the veggie movement. Though I am not full vegan for personal and family reasons, I will now officially include vegan or at gluten-free versions for all my recipes. I only want this blog to cater to all types of dietary needs, so if any of you feel like something is amiss, please feel free to email or DM me.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Kaya Avocado Nut Butter Cakes (makes 6-7 cakes)

Ingredients

*= vegan substitute

190g plain flour (*same weight of gluten-free flour)

a generous pinch of salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1  1/2 tsp baking soda

300g kaya (*recipe for vegan kaya below, using 1 sweet potato, 1 tsp pandan extract, 80ml coconut milk and 3 tbsp coconut or maple sugar)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg (*1 mashed banana)

120g white caster sugar (*same weight of coconut sugar)

1 mashed avocado

3 tbsp olive oil

optional: nut butter of choice

 

Directions

*to make vegan kaya: Roast one large sweet potato (about 200g) at 200C for half an hour or until soft and mashable. Using a fork or blender (you pick the easy way out, ha ha), mix with the rest of the stated ingredients. And there you have vegan kaya! You should be able to use all the kaya you make, but weigh out 300g to be sure.

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180C and grease a 8 of your muffin tins. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients excluding the nut butter and mix well. You should have a thick, green batter of easy dropping consistency. If it’s too thick, add a drop of milk/nut milk until you get the desired consistency.

Fill your cake molds halfway up, then add a teaspoon of  nut butter to the centre, then continue to fill with the batter until the mold is 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve with more nut butter, yoghurt, honey and frozen berries (trust me on this one).