Monday, October 12, 2015

Dairy Free Vegan Banana Coconut Pecan Cookies

Hi everyone! I'm back at Melbourne now!

We had lots of fun and delicious food when we were in Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We were lucky that almost everyday in Canada and USA was sunny with clear blue sky for us. If you like to see what we eat and do in Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Francisco, I will be sharing pictures of delicious food in my instagram, zoebakeforhappykids.

Although that I'm now back to blog but I won't be back for long... I will be busy with more unpacking and packing and also rushing through my work as I will be going to Singapore at the end of the month soon. Having said that, I will still try my best to support Little Thumb Up October with coconut theme at here hosted by my dynamic wonder-woman friend, Bakericious Jess.

Before baking something coconut-y for Jess, I like to thank everyone who have participate the Little Thumb Up September with Milo theme hosted by me and Doreen at here and here and we are happy that we have a total of 73 entries for this unique ingredient. Thank you so much!

Now back to baking...

Under the influence of a new friend, I started to regain my interest in vegan baking lately. After my initial attempt of baking peanut butter chocolate heaven vegan cupcakes, I have sort concluded that I can be a vegetarian but not a vegan because I can't bake without butter, milk and eggs. Please do not get me wrong... I like to be as animal-friendly as possible but just can't convince myself not to eat any dairy products and eggs. Or can I???

One day, I got really curious and asked my friend...

"I don't understand. How do bake with no butter and eggs?"

"I usually use Nuttelex instead of butter. And I prefer to bake with egg-less recipes because they are mostly stir-and-bake." She said.

Am I convinced? Well, kind of. My friend is right that Nuttelex is a healthier vegan substitution for butter. She is also right saying that the addition of eggs into cakes usually require electric mixer to beat and the eggs can sometimes toughen the overall cake texture.

Nuttelex are dairy-free spreads that are made with plant seed oils. Being a healthier fat options, they are low in saturated fat and may work well in SOME baking recipes and can never be as good as butter for cookies baking. Sad to say that coconut oil with a high percentage of saturated oil is in fact the best vegan cookies baking option.

Love it or hate it???

Love it. These vegan banana coconut pecan cookies are so yummy! They are perfectly crisp, nutty and so naturally sweet!

Hate it. These vegan cookies are made of coconut oil which is high in saturated fat.

Love it. These cookies can stay fresh and crispy for days. Absolutely no worries if you are bringing them for picnics, party or travelling trips.

Hate it. err... Only because they are high in saturated fat?

Love it. There is no weird ingredients required to bake these cookies. Banana is used to substitute the eggs and coconut oil is used to substitute the butter.

Hate it. Geez... I can't list down another reason.

Love it. These cookies are super easy to bake as no electric mixer is required.

Hate it. err...

Love it. These cookies are Animal Friendly!!! Clap! Clap! Clap!

Hate it. err... Obviously, we don't hate these cookies anymore...

Well, can you think of a reason to love or hate these perfectly crisp, nutty, naturally sweet, easy to bake, animal friendly banana coconut pecan cookies? Can't think? Just eat. My son said that he simply loves these cookies.

We hate them only because they are high in saturated fat but will love them fully if we enjoy these cookies moderately and occasionally.

dairy free vegan banana coconut pecan cookies
Dairy free vegan banana coconut pecan cookies

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Penang style Tau Sar Piah Tambun Biscuits 槟城豆沙饼

Hi! Hi! It's the tau sar piah loving me again continuing my tau sar piah baking exploration...

Until today, I have baked several types of tau sar piah and they are:

1) Yuan yang sweet and salty tau sar piah 鸳鸯咸豆沙饼 which has a perfect combination of sweet and salty tau sar and meat floss filling, like the ones that you find Thye Moh Chan or selected Toast Box shops in Singapore

2) The flaky and flakiest tau sar piah with smooth and sweet tau sar filling 酥皮豆沙饼 which is made of heavenly light and distinctively flaky pastry

3) Like 611 tau sar piah 像611牛油豆沙饼 which is made with crunchy-like-butter-cookie but flaky buttery pastry and also 611-like smooth tau sar filling

Here, I'm baking Penang style tau sar piah (in Hokkien) which is also known as tau sar pheah (in Cantonese), dragon balls, tambun (fat) biscuits, mung bean pastry, dou sar bing (meaning 豆沙饼 in Chinese).

Unlike the other tau sar piahs that I have baked before, the Penang style tau sar piah are famous being their distinctively round little balls of pastry. 
Characteristically, the Penang tau sar piah are made of firm, flaky and slightly crispy pastry and are filled with cream-coloured, crumbly and melt-in-the mouth mung beans filling with a subtle aroma of fried shallots.

Yup! I like to remind myself that any tau sar piah that (1) is flattened, (2) not firm and crispy and (3) not made with cream-coloured mung bean filling and fried shallots are NOT Penang tau sar piah!!! LOL!

Bearing in my mind of all these important characteristics, this is how I baked my Penang style tau sar piah...

Penang style tau sar piah tambun biscuits
Penang style tau sar piah / Tambun biscuits

Monday, September 21, 2015

Like 611 Buttery Tau Sar Piah 像611牛油豆沙饼

I love 611 tau sar piah but have not eaten these buttery tau sar piah for a loooong long time...

611? Why this name and number?

If you are (1) a Singaporean, (2) a Gen Y or X or earlier and (3) a tau sar piah lover, I'm sure you will know and remember the famous 611 tau sar piah. Tau sar piah? For those who don't know, it is a traditional Singapore / Malaysian Chinese type of pastry filled with mung beans filling which can be sweet, salty, pasty or melty.

Back to the olden days with shop houses and NO massive shopping malls, a humble bakery called 611 tau sar piah cake shop was born at 611 Balestier Road, Singapore. The owner, Mr Lee Hee Tuang started this shop by selling mostly buttery Tau Sar Piah in many variety for years and passed his business to his daughter Ms Lee Shan Shan when he retired. Since then, Ms Lee updated the image of 611 tau sar piah. She opened an outlet at a huge shopping mall, Vivo City called Little Red Shop and was selling tau sar piah with many varieties like (1) the regular salty mung bean paste 咸豆沙 (2) the popular sweet mung bean paste 甜豆沙 (3) lotus paste 莲蓉 (4) red bean paste 红豆沙 (5) Penang mung bean paste 槟城咸豆沙 (6) pineapple paste 黄梨 (7) green tea lotus paste 绿茶莲蓉饼 (8) coffee red bean paste 咖啡豆沙 (9)Durian lotus paste 榴莲莲蓉. The mung bean paste 豆沙, lotus paste 莲蓉, red bean paste 红豆沙 and Penang mung bean paste 槟城咸豆沙 are the traditional pastry fillings that we would normally eat in Chinese pastry and the rest are exotic varieties that were created subsequently based on food trends and popularity.

Unlike the other tau sar piah (like these that I have baked at here and here, the 611 tau sar piah is different because of its buttery and not-distinctive layered pastry. According to ieatishootipost, the pastry tastes like crunchy-like-butter-cookie but flaky at the same time. Unlike the regular pale and crumbly mung bean filling, the regular salty and the popular sweet 611 tau sar piah are usually made of smooth and pasty mung bean paste which is well flavoured with brown sugar and fried shallots... Well, exactly like this mung bean filling that I have found at here.

Sounds yummy?

Months ago, my close cousin who is living in NYC and I were back in Singapore for our holidays. When we met up, we were both looking for 611 tau sar piah and sad to say that these yummy traditional pastry are not selling in Vivo city anymore!

I told my cousin that I'm going to recreate 611-like tar sar piah at our Melbourne home and she gave me a thumb up. Based on what I can remember, these are what I baked...

buttery flaky 611 tau sar piah mung bean pastry
611-like buttery tau sar piah

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chocolate pots de crème (William Sonoma)

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new - Albert Einstein


To me, it is always fun and challenging baking-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings. Every recipe and theme that we chose is different and I know that I'm always learning something new...

For this bake along, we are baking chocolate pots de crème from the book, William Sonoma Baking Book or here

Pots de crème??? According to Wikipedia, pots de crème are French custard desserts which also refer to the porcelain cups in which the dessert is served. Typically, pots de crème are made with egg yolks, cream, milk, and a flavor, often vanilla or chocolate. The milk and cream are heated and flavoured, then mixed into the whisked egg yolks. The mixture is strained and poured into cups, which are then baked in a water bath at low heat. This description is exactly the same as the recipe that we are baking here and these are the chocolate pots de crème that I have baked...

chocolate pots de crème William Sonoma
Chocolate pots de crème (William Sonoma)