February 17, 2009

Cocoa & Vanilla

Some time back last month, my dd and I paid a visit to Shermay's Cooking School which is situated in Holland Village. I'd thought of joining their classes previously but it was always full house by the time I wanted to sign up. They also have a small retail shop selling baking/cooking ingredients and bakewares and that's the main the reason I wanted to go and have a look! I was so happy to have FINALLY got myself a bottle of vanilla extract and Valrhona cocoa powder at Shermay's. Heh probably there's nothing to boost about but this is the first time I bought a good quality pure vanila extract; previously I've always been using only vanilla essence. :P I had also heard much reviews about valrhona cocoa so I must not give that a miss!
I was surprise to find that Pantry Magic is also located around the vicinity. There are lots of colourful silicon bakewares and other quality kitchenwares and I'm really tempted to bring them home. Well, I didn't buy in the end as they were too expensive; I don't think it is neccessary for me to own them.

I've been eager to try out the vanilla extract but didn't get a chance to bake anything out of it during the Chinese New Year festive period. I baked a batch of vanilla cupcakes for my cousin's baby shower two weeks ago and got to put it to good use. I tried a new basic vanilla cupcake recipe and the texture of the cake was very soft and fluffy, definitely a keeper for cupcake recipes. ;)
This is the first time I experimented with royal icing pipings, using meringue powder. I'm not sure whether I've beaten it to the right consistency as the piped letterings actually became soft when I left it at room temperature. Nevertheless I had fun piping the letters. I think it was the first time I managed to get some decent letterings though I still had much more room for improvement! :)

These chocolate muffin cupcakes were baked prior to Valentine's Day for my colleagues. I took this opportunity to try the valrhona cocoa powder and oh my gosh they smell so wonderful even when I was only mixing the batter! Even though no melted chocolate or chocolate chips were added, the smell, taste and colour of cocoa were intense enough. Recipe from Florence's dark chocolate muffins.
I made some simple swirls of nutella and decorated with little white chocolate hearts to make a simple sweet cupcake. :) I think the little hearts did put a smile on some faces. :)

Let me share the vanilla cupcake recipe here ;)

180g butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup caster sugar (I usually would reduce by about 1/4 of it)
1 1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract/essence
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C
  2. Place all the main ingredients in a deep mixing bowl, beating on low speed until well combined and the batter is smooth (note: I've never use such method before. For me, I cream butter with sugar, added in eggs in stages till well mixed, and finally add milk and flour alternately. You may want to try their method to see if it produces a soft texture as well)
  3. Spoon batter into cupcake patty case until 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until light brown. Allow to cool before frosting.

Recipe Source: Food & Travel - Oct 2008 Issue (pg 51)


Anonymous said...

just want to share that you can get valrhona cocoa powder from sun lik located at seah street..i got mine from them, i think it is slightly cheaper..they also have valrhona cooking chocolate.

youfei said...


Yea, i share the same sentiments as octopusmum.

I just bought a pack of 500g valrhona cocoa powder for $14 =)

I've also bought their varlhona chocalates. They have a great range, 70%, 55% and etc etc. In different quantities too. big blocks at 1kg each and smaller packets at 300g. so yep! Do check it out.

I know b-i-y sells varlhona too and have recently made a trip there. But still more expensive then sunlik.

So far, sunlik's the most value for money! =) Do check it out.

p.s. i dont' get advertising fees. just that i understand how expensive this baking hobby is and how difficult it is to hunt down good baking supplies shops =)


Aimei said...

Oh thanks octopusmum and youfei! I've been to sunlik once but when I went again, I somehow couldn't find the shop! What time does it open daily? It is near or beside which shop?

youfei said...

Hmm..if im not wrong it opens Mon to Sat. mon-fri 830am to 630pm. not too sure about saturday opening hours.

it's just next to raffles hotel. 33 seah st. Hope this helps! =X

ganache-ganache said...

Hey, each time I go back to Sin, I'll sure to visit Chip Bee Gardens, love the whole row of shops & cafes there ! I got the Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla too, from Shermay's, agree that pantry Magic stuff are costly, did you check out the organic shop & butcher ? Great stuff but steep prices though ! Oh I always get my Valrhona direct from the distributor, at 3kg pack, much cheaper & lasts me a long time !

Aimei said...

Thanks Youfei! :)

Hi ganache-ganache, is chip bee gardens in Holland Village area too? Nope didn't check out the organic shop. :) Have not heard of it before. :) How o get direct from distributor?

ganache-ganache said...

Hi Aimei,

Chip Bee Gardens is where Shermay's is, that whole row of shops. Oh you can get Valrhona chocolate from Euraco @ Henderson Distripark opp HDB Centre Bkt Merah, tel : 6276 5433.

Joy said...

I actually in the process of make my own vanilla extract(vodka + vanilla bean i bought in Ubud, Bali), I hope it's better than cheap extract i usually bought from groceries. Btw I want to ask ganache-ganache the price for 3kg valrhona from the distributor, if i can afford it i wold ask my cousin to buy it.