October 30, 2014

Classic Fudgy Brownies

Brownies were one of the first things I ever baked. Just add eggs and oil to Betty Crocker’s brownie mix (the red box!) and voila, the best fudgy brownies ever. I've tried to make brownies from scratch before but they turned out either too flat and hard or really cakey. But I've finally found a recipe that replicates the fudgy chewiness of Betty Crocker brownies, but richer in chocolate and made with real ingredients.

These brownies are super fudgy and so sinfully delicious with partially melted chocolate chips!

I used a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips because I didn't want the brownies to be too sweet. 

Melt the butter with the chocolate chips, then whisk in the sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.

Add flour and cocoa powder.

Finally, fold in chocolate chips into the batter for more chocolatey richness.

Classic Fudgy Brownies

Makes 20- 25 brownies


1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips (or 1/2 cup semi sweet plus 1/2 cup bittersweet)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup semi sweet plus 1/2 cup bittersweet)


  1. Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350F / 175C degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhand on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done.
  5. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once cooled, lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s finally getting colder in Hong Kong, and it’s almost Halloween! These super moist pumpkin muffins make the perfect fall season snack. They taste like pumpkin pie spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and the chocolate chips add extra sweetness. Instead of using traditional muffin tins, I used a silicone tray to bake bite-size muffin squares. They puffed up during the bake and ended up looking like tiny loaves of bread. Adorable!

Mini pumpkin loaves!
Use leftover batter to make regular sized muffins.
Use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.

Add chocolate chips for sweetness and extra richness.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 14 muffins, or 28 mini muffins

1 and 3/4 (220g) cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (227 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the eggs until combined. Add the pumpkin, oil, milk and vanilla until combined.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry one. Using a spatula, stir until just combined (until you don't see anymore white flour bits). Do not overmix.
  5. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips into the batter, if using.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin tin.
  7. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

October 25, 2014

Hong Kong - Street Meat

It’s hard to miss the Prince Street station sign on Wyndham Street. Street Meat's entrance and look of its menu is modelled after the New York City subway, and it aims to bring a fresh New York vibe to the Hong Kong food scene. I’ve been wanting to try their interpretation of famous street food from NYC but was put off by their long lines and no reservations policy. Thankfully, JC knew the owner (as usual), so we were able to get seated at 8pm sharp, no waiting.

The restaurant is set up like a diner counter, where you sit on high stools and watch the chefs prepare your food. I love that. Push through the double kitchen doors and you will find the bar area. It’s neon-lit with an outdoor smoking area. I think it’s genius. You can get your drink on at the bar, go back out to get a Ramen Burger, drink some more, and eat more. You don’t even have to leave the place. There’s also a #selfie ready, Instagram’d out mirror in the bathroom complete with hashtags. Laubaby, this was made for you.

Their menu is a subway map. Each dish is a speciality “street meat” from an area of New York, like Canal Street, Upper West side or K-town. JC and I were greedy and ordered five dishes between the two of us. I tried two cocktails but their names allude me. They were great though. I remember one was a whiskey sour.

32nd Street K-Town Ramen Burger: A mixture of Wagyu beef bulgogi and kimchi sandwiched between two fried ramen buns. I haven’t tried the real one before so I can’t make a comparison, but I thought this was delicious. The ramen buns were crispy and contrasted nicely with the tender and flavourful bulgogi. The kimchi added a refreshing tangy kick.

Midtown Halal Chicken Bowl: The soft and juicy sous vide chicken sat on basmati rice, topped with “secret” white sauce (with Greek yogurt), red sauce (hot sauce) and iceburg lettuce. The flavour of the marinated chicken was spot on, and I liked their version of white sauce. But now all I can think of is the chicken rice from the Halal Guys. To be fair, I think Hong Kong has some great kebab places, like 27 Kebab House across from Marouche, but Street Meat’s version will do for now until my next NYC trip.

Upper West Atomic Wings: These were standard wings (says confit on the menu) served with spicy sauce, charred scallion sour cream, and celery sticks (oh who are we kidding!). They were delicious though, quite juicy and had a nice crispy crust.

Flushing Lamb Wrap: The lamb was marinated in Xinjiang Spices, cooked sous vide and paired with grilled leeks and carrots. The lamb’s robust flavour was enhanced by the spices, which went well with the sweet vegetables. The thin crispy Chinese pancake “wrap” was a bit too greasy for my liking though.

Brooklyn Ribbon Fries: They ran out of ribbon fries as you can tell, so they gave us waffle fries instead. Nonetheless, the fries were cooked perfectly in delicious beef fat and seasoned with sea salt. It came with a side of garlic aioli.

Verdict: Street Meat is open until 2 am. Given its convenient location just in LKF, it’s definitely a great spot to binge on greasy food after a night out. Goodbye hangover! However they run out of items quick, so you may not get what you want if you stumble in at 1 am. I’ll be back to try the Chelsea Market Lobster Roll and Upper East Macaron Sandwich, which were both sold out during my visit. 

I recommend: 32nd Street K-Town Ramen Burger, Mid Town Halal Chicken Bowl

Street Meat
Address: 50 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Website: http://www.facebook.com/streetmeat.hk
Hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-2am

October 21, 2014

Hong Kong - Tabibito

The first and last time I went to Tabibito was during its soft opening. The dishes were alright, but nothing stood out. I hadn't been since, until I saw on my friend’s Instagram that they had begun serving mentaiko pasta for brunch. As you may know, mentaiko pasta is one my all-time favourite dishes, so I had to go try it!

Tabibito is located at the end of Po Hing Fong in Sheung Wan and can be a bit of a walk if you are taking public transportation. However, it's worth it. We went around noon on a Saturday and it was empty, so come early if you want to beat the brunch rush hour. Tabibito serves traditional brunch items like sausage and eggs, and non-traditional items like kimchi fried rice (getting that next time!) and ox tongue sandwiches. They also have daily specials, like sliders and mac n' cheese when I went.

Ox Tongue Sandwich: Tender pieces of grilled ox tongue with mustard, mayo, chopped boiled egg and pickles sandwiched between toasted bread. It might sound like a strange combo (to me at least), but it worked. It tasted like a classic egg salad sandwich but with ox tongue, yet the ox tongue wasn’t overpowered by the creamy and tangy egg mixture.

Super Banana Pancake: This reminded me of Tokyo Banana, a banana custard treat from Japan. If you’re a fan, you will love this pancake. Tabibito’s version puts a healthy portion of delicious silky banana custard inside a banana pancake. I could eat the custard all day long! The pancake had a nice crust while remaining fluffy on the inside. It was served with a side of maple syrup and half a caramelized banana.

Mentaiko Pasta: One of the best mentaiko pastas I’ve had in Hong Kong. The sauce was rich and creamy, full of umami and slighty spicy. The portion of pasta was generous and they didn’t skimp on the mentaiko. Each pasta strand was slathered with it. I also loved the shisho leaf, which cut through the richness of the dish.

Verdict: Delicious comfort food from around the world with a Japanese flair. I’ll be going back to try their "normal" brunch food and of course, to get my mentaiko fix. My only complaint is that their tables are quite small so you may have to play tetris to fit all your dishes on there. Keep in mind they only serve their brunch menu on weekends. They also do not take reservations for brunch.

I recommend: Super Banana Pancake, Mentaiko Pasta

Address: G/F, 20 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan
Phone: 2547-2833

Website: www.tabibito.com.hk
Hours: Tue-Fri 6pm til late, Sat-Sun brunch starts 11:30am

October 16, 2014

Hong Kong - Mango Tree

Mango Tree (Elements location) is nestled between Miu Miu and Mikimoto at the far end of the mall, near ICC. We went there on a Saturday around noon without a booking and were seated immediately. The restaurant had a beautiful high ceiling and floor length windows which allowed a lot of natural light in. The furniture was mostly wood with silk accents, and the servers were dressed in traditional Thai clothing. For a moment I felt like I was in a resort restaurant in Phuket! That being said, Mango Tree is definitely more posh and pricier than most Thai restaurants in Hong Kong, but I think it is worth visiting for the quality of food, service and dining environment.

Thai Glass Noodle with Seafood: This dish was perfect to begin the meal with. The thin glass noodles were tossed with squid, shrimp, minced pork, onions, Thai celery and chili in a garlic-lime sauce. The combination of all the sharp and tangy flavours really opened up my taste buds. I loved the heat from the chilis and sweetness from the tomatoes. I only wish they gave us more glass noodles to mop up the delicious sauce.

Chicken in Pandan Leaves: I loved this dish. The chicken was marinated in garlic and herbs, wrapped in fresh pandan leaves then deep fried. The chicken was so moist and tender, and had absorbed all the lovely flavours from the marinade and pandan. The sweet sesame dipping sauce rounded out the smoky and slightly charred flavour of the chicken.

Crab Meat Yellow Curry in Crispy Bread: This hollowed bread was filled to the brim with succulent crab meat drowning in a rich yellow curry. The curry was divine. It was thick and creamy with a hint of umami from the crab and sweetened by coconut milk. It tasted almost buttery. There's probably a better way to eat this but when I tore into the bread for a piece, all the curry oozed out of the bread. It was quite messy to eat, but totally worth it! 

Verdict: There's something on the menu for everyone, whether you are a spice lover or not. The portions are great for sharing, so come with a group to make the most out of your meal. Service was attentive and the dishes arrived at an appropriate pace. I am definitely going back again for some gourmet Thai food.

I recommend: Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Crab Meat Yellow Curry in Crispy Bread

Mango Tree
Address: Shop 2032, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
Phone: 2668-4884

Website: www.mangotree.com.hk

October 14, 2014

Salted Double Caramel Cupcakes

I’m a huge fan of salted caramel anything. There’s just something so wonderful about the addition of salt that elevates and deepens the caramel flavor. I’ve had salted caramel tarts, candies, ice cream, macarons and even popcorn before, but never salted caramel cupcakes. I jumped at the chance to make them for a friend’s birthday. Sometimes I just need an excuse to bake, and birthdays are the perfect occasion! These cupcakes came out fluffy and moist, and the creamy icing was rich and sweet with a savoury finish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a seperate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, mixing with the spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
Stir in the milk.
Fill each cupcake liner halfway with batter.

Bake until lightly golden, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make your frosting. Melt the salted butter in a small saucepan.

Add sugar and cream, and let it bubble for 3 minutes.

Let it cool for 15 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until you reach the consistency you want. I used 2.5 cups. Add a little cream if you want the frosting to be creamier, and add more salt if the frosting is too sweet.

The frosting will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Salted Double Caramel Cupcakes

Makes 14 cupcakes


Caramel Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Salted Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Chocolate pieces for decorating, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a seperate medium bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until no flour remains. Scrap down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Slowly stir in the milk, mixing until just combined.
  6. Filled the lined cupcake tin only halfway full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
  7. While the cupcakes are cooling, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Add salt. Allow to bubble for 3 full minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  8. With an electric mixer, mix the salted caramel with the powdered sugar. Use 1 cup of sugar at a time, until you reach the consistency you want. I used 2.5 cups. Add a little cream if you want the frosting to be creamier, and add more salt if the frosting is too sweet.
  9. Frost the cupcakes and decorate with chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction