Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Epic Ice Blended Chocolate... that cost you less than a dollar!!! ... Plus a Giveaway!

Have you been spending at least USD or AUD$5 to drink one serve of ice blended chocolate or coffee at places like Starbucks, Gloria Jean's Coffees or Costa?

Yes? So, why am I not surprised?

After watching an old episode of Jamie Oliver's Christmas Special, I'm inspired to make my own ice blended chocolate using similar ingredients that Jamie used to make his own epic hot chocolate and so I this is what I have made...

Our epic iced blended chocolate

Believe it or not? Each serve of the ice blended chocolate that I made is costing me less than a dollar!!! All because the ingredients that I used are easily available in my pantry and it is costing me almost like nothing to assemble these drinks together.

To start, we need 30g CHOCOLATE to make one drink!!! I mean real chocolate with best quality that you like to eat or use for cooking or baking. Personally, I like to use Callebaut dark chocolate with either 55% or 70% cocoa.

Next, gather these ingredients from your pantry...

I always have these ingredients in my kitchen.

To sweeten your drinks, you can use either icing sugar, corn syrup (preferably fructose free) or Stevia. If you are using sweetened chocolate, you can choose to omit this addition. Please do not use caster, white or granulated sugar as they are harder to dissolve.

The real sugar vs Stevia the sugar substitution
Melt chocolate with half the milk and mix all other ingredients together.
Add ice and whiz until the ice are well blended and smooth.
This is real epic and it costs me less than a dollar!!!

Good quality chocolate $30 per kilogram
Good quality Dutch cocoa powder $30 per kilogram
Milk $1 a liter
Making an epic ice blended chocolate with real chocolate $1 per serve
Enjoying an epic drink - Priceless!

Depending on the type of chocolate and other ingredients that we use, each serve of this ice blended chocolate can varies from 250 to 400 calories but if you use 1g of Stevia (a natural sugar substitute) instead of icing sugar, you can consume 30 less calories from the one that you made with real sugar.

Having said that, I must admit that the addition of Stevia does give the drink a little bitter aftertaste but it is not easily delectable and also easily acceptable.

Stevia? It is a calorie-free sweetener extracted from the leaves of the plant species, Stevia rebaudiana. I like to strongly encourage people with diabetic and weight control problems to enjoy their food better with Stevia as the sweetness of 1g Stevia is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Pardon me and my nagging... Although I like the fact that Stevia is noncaloric, I like to emphasis that the consumption of Stevia should be in moderation as excessive consumption may cause some side effects for some people especially those with 1) ragweed allergies, 2) low blood pressure or 3) difficulty to control blood sugar levels. Personally, I think that pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid consuming sweeteners too... Well, this is my very very very personal opinion.

For me, I like to moderate everything that I consume and so I'm loving the benefits of both Stevia and sugar.

For you, I'm happy to announce that NuStevia, a company that specialized in Stevia products are giving away FOUR sets of their products as shown in this picture ...

Each set consists of 1) one bottle of Cherry Vanilla Stevia Liquid 2) one 50 pkt box of NuStevia White Stevia Powder 3) one bottle of zero calories cocoa syrup 4) one bottle of simple syrup. The total retail valve of these are USD$55 plus a free bonus product.

This giveaway is open to all international readers!!! Be quick!!! 
The submission ends on 7th Dec 2014, 11:59 Melbourne, Australia time.

To win, please submit your entries via this:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

To claim your prizes, all winners will be notified via your Facebook or email account and have to provide his/her full name and shipping address and confirm his/her email address again so that we can advise the winners regarding the status of the shipments.

If you are interested to buy these products from Nunaturals, you may wish to take note of this 15% DISCOUNT CODE: BLG1214 and it is valid until 31st Dec 2014.

Before proceeding on to the recipe, I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid by Nunaturals to promote their products. I was given these samples to try and like to share my most honest opinions to my friends and all readers.
Good luck with this giveaway!

Here is my epic ice blended chocolate recipe that is mostly adapted from Jamie Oliver's Epic Hot Chocolate

Make one large serve, 300ml
30 g good-quality unsweetened dark chocolate, preferably Callebaut dark chocolate with 55% or 70% cocoa
1/2 cup (125ml) milk, divided into half
1 tbsp good quality cocoa, preferably Dutch processed cocoa powder like Valrhona
1 tbsp Milo or any malted drink
1 tbsp milk powder
3/4 tbsp icing sugar or 3/4 tbsp light corn syrup (preferably fructose free) or 1g Stevia powder or nothing if you don't mind the bitterness from the cocoa powder
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup (loosely pack) ice

Place chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl.

Pour 1/4 cup milk into a small saucepan and bring it almost to the boil over a medium heat. When the milk is ready, pour it in the bowl of chocolate and allow the heat to melt the chocolate without stirring for about 1 min. Add cocoa powder, Milo, milk powder and icing sugar or syrup or Stevia into the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Mixture can be a little lumpy but it is ok. Stir in the rest of milk into the mixture.

Transfer mixture into a tall plastic cup that can be processed by a hand blender and add ice into it. Using a hand blender, process until the ice are well blended and smooth. Pour the blended drink into a serving cup and enjoy this epic drink immediately!


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Less Fussy and No-Starter Five Thousand Dollars Bread

Five thousand dollars bread?

No doubt that this flashy name had caught my attention...

Since the beginning of 2014, baking this bread recipe seems to be a hit among Asian food bloggers. According to Victoria Bakes, the story begins when a sifu (master) paid ¥5000 (RMB) to buy this recipe. For the substantial amount of money that he paid, this recipe should never be seen in the internet or any public publications until the sifu shared the recipe with 爱和自由, who subsequently published the recipe on her blog. Ops! 

Why is this bread recipe so special?

(1) This original recipe requires a starter culture to kick start the proving of the bread. Thus, it requires three proving cycles with at least 4 hours to complete the baking of this bread. Ai yo! So lay-chay (meaning troublesome in Hokkien)!!!

(2) It uses a specific combination of low protein flour and high protein flour 1:2 ratio in both starter and main dough. Ai yo! So lay-chay again!!!

(3) The dough can be very sticky to handle! According to Vivian Pang Kitchen, the bread has a better texture when they are shaped into rosette shapes. Round buns won't be as good! Ai yo! So triple lay-chay!!!

The curious me thought of baking this bread in an easier way. Instead, this is how I baked my less fussy five thousand bread...

(1) ... with NO starter dough!!! I have combined all ingredients in a breadmaker as it kneaded into one dough. After proving the dough for one hour, I have punched it down and placed it in the fridge overnight.

(2) ... with NO combination of low protein flour and high protein flour! Yes that I did some maths calculation with the ratio of the combination and also the protein percentage of flour.

Assuming that the low protein flour has 7% protein and high protein flour has 12% protein, in 1:2 low protein flour to high protein flour ratio yields a finial 10% protein in the flour used. Then, why not use flour that has 10% protein which is all-purpose flour??? Hmmm....

(3) I did nothing to the no.3 lay-chay point. LOL! Despite that the dough is sticky, I'm sticking to the rosette shaping method as it gives the better texture. Still a little lay-chay here but it is definitely worthwhile doing this.

So, what is the outcome of my less fussy five thousand bread? Brilliant! ... Ops! Hope that I don't sound bragging too much here. Like what Victoria and Vivian has described in their bread, it is indeed a lovely sweet enriched bread. It is moist and soft as has great texture as it tears apart like fibers of tissue. Comparing to Victoria and Vivian, I reckon that I have under-baked mine slightly and would bake this bread with a deeper colour crust the next time.

Which is better? Original or this less fussy one? I can't really comment much on this because I have not baked this bread using the original starter-culture-requiring-4-hours method. All I can say is that this less-fussy method has worked well for me!

less fussy five thousand dollar bread
My less fussy five thousand dollar bread
No starter dough used - I have combined all ingredients and kneaded into just one dough.
See this texture! The bread dough can be very sticky to shape.

Sorry that I couldn't take pictures of the steps that I used to shape these bread as my hands were too messy with bit and pieces of sticky dough! For through rosette shaping instruction, please see this.

Like Vivian said, the dough is too sticky to handle.
After baking, the bread puff up very well and look better with smoother surfaces.
Happy to see that this less fussy bread has great tension too!
See! It tears apart like fibers of tissue!!!
Shaping the bread into rosettes is a must for this recipe :)

Here's the recipe that I have mostly adapted from Victoria Bakes and Vivian Pang Kitchen
Makes 9 small rolls in one 20cm square pan

300g all purpose flour with 10% protein content
65g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12g milk powder
1/2 cup (120ml) water, lukewarm
1 egg, small 60g
3/4 tsp instant yeast
35g butter, soften at room temperature

Using a breadmaker, mix all dough ingredients and knead into a smooth dough and allow it to prove for 1 hr.

As dough can be quite sticky to handle, kneading by hand can quite difficult. If breadmaker is not available, use an electric mixer with a dough hook to combine all ingredients except butter to form a dough. Add butter and knead for 15-20 mins or until dough is smooth and elastic. Allow dough to prove for 1 hr.

Punch down dough and place it in a container with cover and allow it to prove overnight in the fridge.

On the next day, remove dough from the fridge and allow it to adjust to room temperature for about 1 hr. Divide the dough into 9 portions. Shape into rosette as mentioned here.

Place the shaped dough into greased pan and allow the dough to prove for 1 hour or double in size. Bake in preheated oven at 160C for about 20 mins.

Baked at 180°C or 160°C fan forced for 20-30 mins*. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Allow the bread to cool completely before serving.

* Please note that I have under baked mine for 20 mins. I reckon that I should bake the bread for an extra 5-10 mins.

Happy Baking

Seeing the nice dark crusty hue of Ellena's 5 thousand dollar starter dough bread, I thought of baking my bread further to taste the effect of a more crusty bread...

I have baked my bread further to get a darker crusty finish.
Amazingly, the bread stay equally moist and soft!!!

Crusty or not crusty? Which is better? Being in its lower protein content, this bread tends to have lesser strength holding its shape and stay spongy and structured. It tends to collapse when they are squashed or bite. For this reason, I reckon that this bread is better if they are baked with darker crusts because the crust gives the bread more texture, structure and flavours.

This post is linked to the event, Best Recipes for Everyone November 2014, My Bread Story hosted by Fion from XuanHom's Mom Kitchen Diary.