Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nunu's Kitchen: New York Cheesecake pie

Cheesecake has always been the bane of my baking existence. No bake ones wouldn't set properly, and baked ones would burn on the outside and runny on the inside with a cracked top. So I don't know how it was exactly that I found myself making cheesecakes on a Sunday night. Oh yes, it was because I had temporarily become single as Mr. Nunu was out playing Settlers. How can something so complicated possibly be fun?!
I used this recipe for Chantal's New York style cheesecake with some changes. The resulting cheesecake tastes EXACTLY like the ones you buy from the bakery! It is rich and creamy and fluffy and dense and velvety all at the same time. I managed to make two 10" pies plus 5 teeny weeny cupcakes from the batter.   You can halve the ingredients for 1 pie or pour everything into a 10" spring-form tin.
You will need:
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 (250g) packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the sauce:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp jam (I would recommend some sort of berry jam)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • squeeze lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 325F for a pie and 350F for a cake (163 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and ground cinnamon. Press onto bottom of pie dish. I used a disposable pie dish to avoid washing up xD
  3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar and milk until smooth. Mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
    The recipe actually says that you should cream the cheese and sugar together until smooth before you add the milk. I've found this to be rather impossibru as the cream cheese tends to stay rather solid even after 30mins out of a fridge. Adding the milk helps everything churn better so you don't end up over mixing. Cutting your cream cheese into smaller chunks help too.
  4. Fill a baking tray with water and put this tray on the rack directly below the rack your cheesecake is going to bake on. This bit of ingenuity is apparently called a "water bath". The water in the tray turns into water vapour inside the hot oven and cools down the oven somewhat. This somehow prevents your cheesecake from cracking.
  5. Bake pie at full temperature for 35-40 minutes, turn temperature down to 300 and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Cheesecake is done when the edges have puffed and turned colour a bit but the middle is still slightly wobbly. At that point, switch off the oven but allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for 20minutes or so with the oven door cracked open an inch or so. The idea is cool the cheesecake off gradually. You should refrigerate the cheesecake over night before serving.
  6. To make the sauce, boil the water in a small sauce pan, add the sugar, jam, and lemon juice. Once this has reduced to a syrup like consistency, add the mixed berries.
  7. ?
  8. Profit. Serve cheesecake with mixed berry sauce and fresh fruit.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Benefit Hervana Blush review and fotd

Yet another Enabled by Justine post.
While I love their Full Finish lipsticks (seriously THE most moisturising lipsticks EVAH!), I've never really paid any attention to Benefit cosmetics. Despite this, I was somehow talked into making an order for their Hervana blusher back in December during the pre-sale.
Like all Benefit blushers, Hervana comes packaged as a small cardboard box. A plastic tray insert on top of the blusher pan holds a slanted brush. A small mirror is included on the lid. It is definitely not the most travel friendly packaging in the world but if it's just going to sit in your drawer then it doesn't really matter.
Hervana consists of a psychedelic swirl of beige, peach, pink and fuchsia. The individual colours cannot be used alone and mixed together it produces a warm medium pink. Some of the shades have a slight sheen to them but the overall finish is quite matte. The powder is finely milled and wears well for 5-6hrs after which it starts to fade.
I would recommend using a stiffer flat blush brush as fluffier brushes won't pick up enough product.
On darker skin Hervana might be more of a highlighter because even on my fail pale self I had to layer it several times to show better. I would recommend testing it out first to see if it turns ashy.
I paid $28 and the box contains 0.28 oz (7.9g) of product. For comparison, a Chanel Joues Contrast blush is $43 for 0.14oz and a MAC blush is $22 for 0.10oz. So a few bucks more than a MAC blush you get almost 3 times the amount of product but for $2 you can get an amazing love you long time blush from Daiso. I therefore conclude that the Benefit Hervana blush is pretty but not necessary. The results just aren't unique enough for it to be a MUST BUY.

So psychedelic xD

Products used:

One last camwhore

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nunu's Kitchen - Green tea cupcakes

I've been on a baking roll ever since Mr. Nunu bought me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas. I didn't want the ingredients leftover from making cheesecake to go to waste so I found this simple green tea cake recipe which uses everything up nicely.
I basically followed this recipe for Green Tea Layer Cake with some slight alterations. This recipe will make about 15 normal sized cupcakes.
For the cupcakes you will need:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour *1
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons matcha powder **2
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt ***3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the icing you will need:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar to taste
  • Green tea powder to taste
* I didn't have cake flour at home so I substituted. For every cup of cake flour a recipe calls for, you can use a mixture of all purpose flour plus corn starch. Simply replace 2 tablespoons of every 1 cup of all purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift the mixture together a few times. Easiest way to do this is to put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into the measuring cup and fill up the rest of the cup with all purpose flour.
** I used 5 teaspoons of matcha powder plus the contents of 2 green tea teabags that I ground to a fine powder in a food processor. This gave the cupcakes a strong green tea flavour which I like but if you don't then stick with what your taste buds tell you.
*** I didn't have any yoghurt in my fridge so I used the remainder of my "sour cream" which I had originally made from whipping cream for my cheesecake. You can use yoghurt, whipping cream, half & half, buttermilk etc etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin or cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour*, baking soda, salt, and green tea powder**; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt***, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared tins.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Pop the cupcakes out and cool on a wire rack.
  4. For the icing, simply pour the whipping cream into a cold bowl and beat with an electric whisk until soft peaks form, then add vanilla extract, green tea powder and powdered sugar and whisk until hard peaks form. DO NOT OVER WHISK OR YOU WILL END UP WITH BUTTER or so I was told in Home Economics class. 
  5. Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before icing.
  6. ?
  7. Profit. Eat

Yes I'm aware that my cupcakes didn't come out looking too green. I suppose you can add a drop of green food colouring to your batter for aesthetics.
These taste just like the green tea cakes that you find in Asian bakeries. The green tea gives it a lovely aroma and a characteristic bitterness which is balanced out by the sweet icing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yet even more L'Oreal Infallible swatches.

Are you guys sick of these yet? If you are, please direct all complaints at Justine, because it is always her fault when anyone at anytime in the world buys an Infallible eyeshadow.
Today I have for you swatches of 5 more L'Oreal Color Infallibles, 4 US exclusives and 1 Canadian exclusive. The 4 US Infallibles are courtesy of my fellow judgy face, D of ShinyPrettyThings, and the Canadian one is courtesy of...the Pharmasave downstairs of my office xD.
Swatches from left:  Amber Rush; Bronze Taupe; Continuous Cocoa (matte) and Eternal Sunshine
Swatch of Golden Mahogany (Canadian exclusive):
I haven't seen the 4 US shades available anywhere else outside of Ameerika. I'm not sure if they're exclusive to the US or just part of a limited edition that hasn't hit the rest of the world yet. If you're in the US, you can pick these up at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid for around $10 each.
Of the 4 US shades, my only regret is Continuous Cocoa. I thought it was going to be a dark brown but it shows up as black on me -_____-". It is also weirdly matte, but at least the colour payoff is decent.
I originally thought Eternal Sunshine was just the US name for the colour that was released in the rest of the world as Gold Mine. I am happy to announce that it is a completely different colour - Eternal Sunshine is slightly darker and more yellow, whereas Gold Mine is sheerer and more golden.
Eternal Sunshine on the left and Gold Mine on the right:
For my review of the L'Oreal Color Infallibles see THIS post.
For swatches of the other Color Infallibles in my collection see THIS post.
In case you were counting, yes, I now have 18 (EIGHTEEN!!) of these buggers now *looks at Justine*.
Thank you D for making this post possible! Me Laav you long time even though that awful postcard put my face into permanent judgy mode for the rest of the night.