Monday, August 3, 2015

Pandan Churros with Gula Melaka Syrup and all about Churros

I like churros.
I like churros even more with chocolate!
Now, I like churros the most with pandan and Gula Melaka!!!

Why pandan and Gula Melaka? It's a long story that leads to my discovery of these exotic churros. It started with my two instagram friends, Yi Juan @inmyhdbkitchen and Sharlynn Ng @blackmentosbeautybox with their photos of pandan churro with gula Melaka... Yum!

According to Yi Juan, these southeast Asian flavoured churro were selling like hot cakes in the night bazaar during the Ramadan period. And Sharlynn said that she was lucky to be the first in the line... Wow! Wish that I could be in Singapore to try these churros. I know that I can't and I know that the only way that I can taste these is to make my own.

I wonder if it is a coincidence or timely situation... As I was thinking a lot about churro, a seven-pieces churro set from Davis and Waddell had arrived at our front door! Clearly, this is a sign! I have to make pandan churro with gula Melaka and so I made them!!!

pandan churro gula melaka syrup
Pandan churros with gula Melaka syrup
Thanks Davis and Waddell! I'm happy to receive this churro set from you!
This set includes 1 churro piping bag fitted with tip, 1 mesh skimmer, 2 serving plates, 2 dipping bowls and 1 icing sugar shaker. Everything that I need to cook and serve delicious churros!
... plus a recipe at the back of the box to make your churro!
Very thoughtful!

I know that I'm not a churro expert. To know how to recreate an exotic churro, I have to know everything about churros. To learn, I started by asking myself a lot of questions and try my best to seek the answers.

What is a churro?

According to Wikipedia, a churro is a fried version of choux pastry. Churros are popular snacks in Spain, France, Philippines, Portugal, Ibero-America and the Southwestern USA.

Churros are deep-fried and crunchy and mostly sprinkled with sugar or flavoured sugar like cinnamon sugar. Churros can be either thin or thick, long or short, straight or curled or sometimes spirally twisted or knotted. Regardless its shape, the surface of a churro is often ridged as it is piped with a star-shaped nozzle.

How do most people enjoy their churro?

CHOCOLATE!!! Most churros are enjoyed the most with warm chocolate sauce or drink and also coffee.

Is there a typical recipe to make churro?

Sort of. I have comparing recipes from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and more.. and I can see that all of these recipes contains a typical proportion of 1 cup of flour plus 1 cup of water.

Interestingly, even the amount of flour and water are the same in most churro recipe, some recipes can be quite different from others...

Some recipes like this, this and this contains NO eggs and butter and only two tablespoons of oil whereas recipes like this, this, this, this, this and even the recipe provided at the back of Davis and Waddell churro cooking set contains eggs and butter and the amount of butter added can vary from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup and the amount of eggs added can vary from 2 to 5!!!

Which is the recipe to use?

Like all the recipes that I have seen, I need to make my churro with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and I like to stick to the recipe at here, here, here, here and also the recipe at the back of Davis and Waddell churro cooking set as I think that the additional of three eggs and 1/2 cup butter can be pretty standard.

Can we bake churro?

Yes... and No!
Yes (as mentioned at here and here) that we can bake churro only if we are using recipe with added butter added. From here, the best way to make straight and long churro is actually to bake them!
No? I will tell you why later.

Are there other variations of churro?

According to Wikipedia, there are churros that are filled like the ones in Cuba with guava, in Brazil with chocolate, in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Mexico with dulce de leche, in Colombia and Venezuela with sweetened condensed milk and in Uruguay with melted cheese.

In the recent Singapore, churro are creatively made with pandan and gula Melaka... Yum! So here, I'm joining in the trend and fun too making these pandan churro with gula Melaka syrup.

The churro recipe that I'm using contains butter and 3 eggs.
For those who don't know, this is gula Melaka.
First, I made the gula Melaka syrup.
After these steps, stir in salt. Remove from heat and set aside for the syrup to cool to room temperature.
Next, I prepared the churro sugar coating.
I'm using an interesting "brown sugar" which is very nostalgic and very typical Singaporean and Malaysian.
This sugar is not available in Melbourne and I had to bring this back from Singapore.
Combine both "brown sugar" plus finely shaved gula Melaka to form this churro coating mixture.
Next I'm preparing the pandan juice to make the churro batter.
Don't forget to add the salt!
This is exactly like making choux pastry.
I have used Alfa One rice bran cooking spray to bake these churros.
Guess what? Despite the uneven golden brown colour, these baked churros are crispy!
I have used Alfa One rice bran oil to fry these churros.
Here's my fried churros... Crunch crunch crunch! Yum!
Can you spot any differences?
I can't really see but I can taste the difference!!!
The baked churro has thicker crispy outer layer whereas fried churro has thinner crispy outer layer and a lot more fluffier inside.

After tasting the differences between baked churros and fried churros, I like to ask myself again... Can we bake churro?

My answer is NO! Although we can bake churro, I would prefer not. Why? Whether baked or fried, churros are made with high amount of butter either way and so they are not going to be "healthier" or "less sinfully" if they are baked. To enjoy churros to the fullest, please bear with the hassle of deep frying... the fried ones are really so much nicer!

More syrup please!
Drizzle with gula Melaka syrup and coat the churros with gula Melaka sugar mixture.

According to Sharlynn, the pandan churros at Geylang serai bazaar are "super crispy borderline hard on the outside and the pandan was a fragrance rather than flavour". Unlike the churros sold at the bazaar, my churros are thinner which means that they have more crispy outer layers! Plus the crispy layers of my churros is thin and never hard. Sharlynn is right... The addition of pandan enhance the overall fragrance of the churros and doesn't give the churros any extra sweetness or taste.

Besides gula Melaka, I like to enjoy my churros with chocolate too!
I'm enjoy this churro with my favourite homemade hot fudge sauce.
Equally YUM!!!

Here's the recipes.

Gula Melaka syrup that is mostly adapted from SBS

50g gula Melaka*
1 pandan leaves, washed, split and knotted
25g water
salt to taste

*The ratio of gula Melaka to water that I used is 2:1. I like this proportion the best as the sweetness is just right and the syrup is still thick and syrupy at room temperature.

Bring gula Melaka, pandan leaves and water to boil and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add salt and remove from heat. Allow the syrup to cool completely at room temperature.

Pandan Churros that is largely modified from a standard recipe at Food Network

For the churros:
5-6 pandan leaves, washed and snipped**
125g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
150g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs (70g each), lightly beaten
cooking oil, preferably trans fat free Alfa One rice bran oil for frying
cooking oil spray, preferably trans fat free Alfa One rice bran oil for baking
** If fresh pandan leaves are not available, you can use pandan extract or essence instead.

To coat the churros:
gula Melaka, finely shaved
the "nostalgic" orange-coloured brown sugar or light brown sugar to toss
Both in equal proportion.

Using a processor or a blender, process pandan leaves and 1/2 cup of water until the leaves look blended and chopped. Place a muslin cloth over a medium bowl and pour the pandan mixture through the muslin cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth and squeeze the retaining liquid out from the pandan pulp. Top with extra water if necessary to form a total volume of 250 ml (1 cup).

Combine pandan juice with butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 min. Remove the dough from the heat and, while stirring constantly, gradually beat the eggs one at a time into the dough.

To deep fry:
Heat about 5 cm (2 inches) of oil in a heavy, high-sided pot over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 180°C or 180°F. Pipe churros batter straight into the hot oil. Use you fingers or a knife to break off the batter when it reaches its required length.

The churros are cooked when they float on the frying oil. Remove and transfer them on paper towels to drain off any excess oil.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 200°C or 390°F. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Pipe long strips of churros batter onto the prepared trays. Spray the piped batter lightly with cooking oil spray. Bake for 12-15 min or until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Do not over-bake!

When the churros are just cool enough to handle, drizzle them with gula Melaka syrup and toss them in the gula Melaka + brown sugar mixture.

Serve immediately.

Happy Cooking and Baking
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This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Jess from Bakericious at this post.

Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first day of the month until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is BROWN SUGAR and MOLASSES for August 2015 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st Aug 2015.

What after August 2015? Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me from Bake for Happy Kids will be the next hostess of September 2015 and her theme is MILO or any chocolate malt powder!

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kids, my little favourite DIY and Jess from Bakericious.

For more details, please see this.

Last but not least, I like to thank Davis and Waddell for giving two churro cooking sets. One is for me to try and another is for my readers to win! Due to its size and bulk, this giveaway is open to Australian residents only. Submission ends on 17 August 2015. Please support and participate this giveaway so that Davis and Waddell and Bake for Happy Kids can organise more fabulous giveaways in the near future.

Before going, I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid by Davis and Waddell and like to share my most honest opinions about this product and hope that you will win one and like it too.

Davis and Waddell Churro Set

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Earl Grey Madeleines (Dorie Greenspan)

"Mum, do you know that these are fire ants?" exclaimed my son while pointing at the large red brown ants trailing along a bus stop near Changi beach.

"Oh!" I always know these ants are the stinging kind but never knew that they are known as fire ants.

"Mum, do you know that there are trillion dollar notes in Zimbabwe?" my son and husband was excited when they bought one of these trillion dollar notes with AUD$6 at eBay.

"Wow!"I was surprised as I never knew that.

"Mum, do you know that the man in our Australian $10 note is Andrew "Banjo" Patterson? One of his famous works is Waltzing Matilda and I love this song!" said my patriotic Australian born son when I picked him up from school yesterday. Being a Singaporean... Obviously, I don't know. Hmmm...

I'm learning new things everyday... from my son, family, friends, work and even baking. Today, I have learned from here, here and here that I can incorporate tea into bakes by infusing tea into either 1) the water 2) the milk or 3) the butter or any fat that we are using to bake. Among all these infusion methods, I have read from here that infusing tea in unsalted butter is the best and the most ideal amount to use is 2 grams (about 1 1/2 tsp) of tea leaves to infuse every tablespoon (15g) of butter.

Perhaps intentionally, this is the same method and amount that Dorie Greenspan has used to infuse the butter in these Earl Grey madeleines and they are fabulously delicious!

earl grey honey madeleines Dorie Greenspan
Earl Grey Madeleines
For this bake, I have used two of these tea bags to infuse 40g butter.
When the butter has been well infused, make sure that you give the bags a big squeeze to salvage every single drop of butter that has been soaked in the tea bags.
While the butter is infusing, I did this.
Then, I beat in the honey and vanilla.
I did these steps gently with a spatula.
The batter has to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight in wrapped in this manner.
This will help the batter to form the characteristic humps.
I'm baking the madeleines using a miniature silicon madeleine mould.
They are so tiny that I can pop more than one of them at one time into my mouth.
See their perfect browned and crispy rim...
... every one of these is so delightfully addictive
... being crispy, butter and spongy all at the same time!

Do you know that tomorrow is the last day of July 2015? ... LOL! I know that you know!

I hope that everyone who linked with us at Little Thumbs Up Tea event has enjoyed the beauty of using tea in creating their food. Among a total of 100 entries, I have seen many refreshing latte and have learned many creative ways to use tea for cooking and baking. Do you like to know which link has the most clicks in this event? It is Green Tea Magic Custard Cake by Joceline, Butter, Flour and Me. Thumbs up, Joceline!

Thumbs up to Cheryl too for hosting this fruitful event. It has bee fun cooking and blogging with you and many friends.

Before proceeding on, I also like to thank Doreen from my little favourite DIY for giving me the versatile blogger award. You are an amazing blogger too :)

Here's the recipe from the book, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
(with my modification and notes in blue)

Makes 12 standard size madeleines or 56 miniature madeleines about 3 cm each
5 tbsp unsalted butter - I have added 40g for half of the recipe.
2 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves - I have used 2 Earl Grey T2 tea bags.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour - I have added 55g.
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar - I have added a reduce amount of 50g for half of the recipe.
grated zest of 1/2 lemon - I have added grated zest of 1 small lemon for half of the recipe and we are loving this amount of lemon zest that I have added.
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract - I have added 1/2 tsp vanilla paste for half of the recipe.

To flavor the butter with the tea, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave oven - I did this step using a sauce pan. Stir in the tea and allow it to infuse for 15 mins.

Line a small sieve with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, then strain the butter into a small bowl; discard the tea leaves. - I didn't have to do this step because I was using the tea packed in tea bags. In order to get the maximal amount of tea out from the tea bags into the butter, I held each tea bag with my thumb and index finger and gave it a big squeeze to salvage every single drop of butter that has been soaked inside the tea bags.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or in another large bowl and, using your fingertips, work the zest into the sugar until the mixture is fragrant.

Working with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and zest together until pale and thick, 2 to 3 mins. Add the honey and vanilla and beat for 1 minute more. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients. When they are incorporated, fold in the butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs or for up to 2 days. This long chill will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C or 180°C fan forced  Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick madeleine pan, give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, there is no prep needed - I'm using the silicone miniature madeleine pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Spoon or pipe the batter into the molds - Don't worry about leveling the batter, the oven's heat will take care of that.

Bake for 12-14 mins or 8 mins for the miniature ones or until the madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the mold by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife.

Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

Note: Using half of the recipe, I have baked 28 miniature madeleines about 3 cm each.

Serving: While they have an entire tea service baked right into them, there's still nothing better than having these madeleines alongside a cup of fragrant Earl Grey tea.

Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they are really better on the same day when they are baked. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.

Happy Baking
Please support me and like me at Facebook...

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Cheryl from Baking Taitai at this post.

Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first day of the month until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is TEA for July 2015 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st July 2015.

What after July 2015? Jess from Bakericious will be the next hostess of August 2015 and her theme is BROWN SUGAR! UPDATE on 31 July 2015 - Please note that Jess is sick and she will be starting her LTU on 3rd Aug 2015.

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY and 
Cheryl from Baking Taitai. For more details, please see this.

Don't forget to submit your details to win Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie (RRP AUD$24.99). This giveaway is open to ALL and the submission ends on 6 August 2015.

Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie Book Giveaway