My new blog: For those who came here for the cake pop class, I've created a new blog with updates on classes and photos over at guiri in the kitchen

Sunday, December 05, 2010

SpongeBob Cake Pops

Sometime in September I made Totoro cake pops for my friend Desmond's wedding, and one of his friend s liked it very much :) So she asked Desmond for my contact and wanted to know if I could make a batch of SpongeBob version for a birthday party in November. Unfortunately I had to turn her down because I was really busy that month, and I didn't want to turn something fun into a chore. Ann came back to me later with a new date for her daughter's party in December, and this time round I had to excuse to reject her again. Plus I had never made a SpongeBob cake pops before and it would be fun to give it a try!

Coincidentally SS is back for her holidays, so I have a little kitchen helper. She helped me draw these eyes on the white chocolate, allowing me to concentrate on other tasks. She was also responsible for drawing the collars, helping me speed up the candy-hardening process (you'll have to see it for yourself to understand this part, hee hee) and also helping me wrap the cake pops after QC check :D My sweet sister also helped with the washing up! Isn't she a darling?
Spongebob's eyes on a baking sheet...are you hypnotised yet?

As SpongeBob was rectagularish, I tried a new technique at shaping them hopefully to cut down my production time. Instead of shaping them individually, I had the cake crumbs pressed onto a cake pan after mixing it with the frosting. And then dividing them equally on the cake pan after leaving it in the fridge overnight. It worked! By doing this too I was able to cut them into equal sizes (well, almost...somehow I can't cut a straight line...LOL) before coating them with candy.

Chocolate cake, first crumbled, then mix with frosting, and compressed flat onto a baking pan

Oh yeah, I also added tic tac as the nose before coating, though I think it would have looked better with pretzels as the nose. Maybe next time, if I ever get to make them again! :)

SpongeBob on the back: "Peekaboo!"

Both of us had so much fun making all the different expressions on the SpongeBob. Just looking at them makes us happy. Also we couldn't help stare at those already in the fridge that we forgot to mind the fridge handle that was above us; my sister bang her head against those handles once (ouch!) and yet I never learnt from her mistake and a while later bumped my head on those very same handles too (double ouch!)  ...LOL!

I believe it's time for me to make some Christmas cake pops soon...hehe.... I really liked those reindeer ones that I made last year :)

What do you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Totoro Cake Pops

After making so many cake pops just because, a friend commissioned me to make some as wedding favors for his guests. In the beginning I was a bit reluctant to accept because I had another event to attend to on the day of his wedding, and I was simply worried I couldn't complete this in time. He was looking to have either Totoro cupcakes or cake, and it was my big mouth that recommended him the cake pops, LOL. So how could I refuse? He was sweet about it though, he told me I could make more of the easy ones if I was short of time.

And so after he asked, which was only 2 weeks before his wedding, I decided to could start making some samples to see if I could really accept his order, and I got these few versions done.

When I was finally comfortable with the design and I confirmed that I have access to all the ingredients required to make the pops, I agreed. Initially I thought I had to make only about 100-120 pieces, but little did I realise that he had about 150+ guests, and I ended up making 160 cake pops (my largest batch ever!) so that all his guests would have at least one.

And so in a span of a week, I baked 3 cakes, shaped them enough to make 180+ cake pops, and I had about 20+ rejects (due to cracks, out of shaped), and divided them into 4 different designs. My friend managed to provide me with some sytrofoam boards which I decorated to become the display stand :) They were only displayed a dozen at the time, and the rest was kept in a cooler box to keep it nice and cold. Malaysian weather is simply too hot for the chocolate coating :(

VoilĂ ! My Totoro Cake Pops!

Each cake pop was also completed with a tag designed by the groom. Later I found out that this whole thing was meant as a surprise for his wife! I hope she liked the surprise! ;)

I had SOOOO much fun making them although it was tiring. Thanks to Lyne too for helping out in my first half of the cake pop making. But after this, I think I have to take a break from making cake pops for a while, LOL!

*UPDATED OCT 28, 2010 - Some of you have asked how I made these Totoro cake pops. I won't be making a new batch anytime soon, so I can't explain with photos, but here are some guidelines on making your totoro :)
  1. Shape the cake balls as normal, just making one end slightly pointy like oval. Sort of like roundish oval, more round than oval...hope I make sense here, LOL
  2. I use almond slivers as the ears. Dip them into melted candy first and position it on the top of the cake ball
  3. Dip lollipop stick into candy and insert into cake ball.
  4. Dip whole cake pop into grey candy coating. Before the candy is set and hardened, add on 2 white confetti for the eyes.
  5. Use a shallow dish to for the white candy coating. Just dip the front portion into the white candy coating and tap lightly with the "tummy" facing up to get even surface.
  6. Put some melted milk chocolate in a piece of parchment paper that is rolled into a cone (just like what you do for your icing), cut the tip, and use it to dot the nose on the totoro.
  7. Use a food marker to dot the eyes, draw inverted "V"s on the tummy and the whiskers :))
Hope this will help those who are interested in making your own totoro cakepops!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brownies + Cookies = Brookies?

My youngest sis brought me some Max Brenner Dark Chocolate Chunks from Australia. I couldn't think of anything else I could do with it other than chocolate chip cookies, until I remembered about this article from Bakerella.

And so I invited my sis over for a baking session. Told her she didn't need to worry about a thing about getting the ingredients. I should have everything we need in the house. Just when we were about to get started I realised I didn't have any eggs! Bummer. And so I rushed out to get some eggs from a nearby grocery store. And when I got home to continue I realised I didn't have enough brown sugar :S I simply didn't want to go out again and so I substituted the shortage with plain white sugar.

Since I had a nice helper, mixing all the ingredients was really quick and in no time at all it was ready to go into the pre-heated oven. The whole house smelled like heaven while it was baking...*drools*

Anyway, according to Bakerella these are called Congo Bars. I don't mind what they are called actually. I love the crisp top layer and the chewy base. And having it packed with chocolate, nuts, and M&Ms are simply heavenly. I'm also looking forward to making another batch soon :)

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try :)

Congo Bars

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened (or approx 150gms)
1 lb. light brown sugar (I had 2/3 of brown sugar and the rest white)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
11.5 ounce package milk chocolate chips (I used 7 ounce of MB choc chunks, and filled the rest with orange flavoured M&Ms)
1 cup chopped pecans (I used hazelnuts)

By hand: (apparently it has a better texture if mixed by hand)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
Stir brown sugar into softened (not melted) butter in another large bowl until butter disappears. You can use the back of your spoon to help incorporate the two together.
Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and stir well after each egg.
Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.
Add dry flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Coat a 13 X 9 pan with non-stick spray and spread batter evenly into dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Make sure you don’t over bake.

Thanks Bakerella!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Raspberry Hearts

I love raspberies, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, all sorts of berries. Except for strawberries which can be locally cultivated at Cameron Highlands, obtaining the rest can be quite difficult as it is not only imported, but also seasonal. And then when you can find them, they are usually quite expensive :(

Just last week I saw some strawberries and raspberries at the Jusco supermarket that was newly opened at Bandar Mahkota Cheras. I couldn't resist and bought a box each. I also bought some mangoes and apples to stock up my fridge :) Gotta love them fruits! Unfortunately last weekend I had to attend a wedding in JB and completely forgotten about those berries that were in the fridge. Got home late last night but was simply too tired to check out the fridge.

It was only this evening that I remembered I had some berries in the fridge and quickly took them out. About 1/3 of the raspberries were already moldy :( I quickly sorted out the ones that were still good, but its already too close to bed time to munch on them. I didn't want the rest to turn bad, and so I decided to turn them all into ice lollies.
Raspberry, Strawberry, Mango and Lime Puree, ready to go into the freezer
You'd probably be wondering how I managed to get so much pulp and puree from a small box of raspberries. I actually added the strawberries and one whole mango into the whole mixture as well, with juice of one lime and some sugar to taste. I stole a taste while making them and it tasted really good!
If you look at the photo you'll notice that I still have some balance in the pouring jug, but I didn't have anymore ice lolly moulds available *yikes*. I used up my other moulds last week to make some azuki bean ice lolly for mom (it's her favourite :)). And so I was frantically searching through my cabinets for an alternative to container to keep the balance and I found an Ikea ice cube tray! It was heart-shaped... JUST PERFECT! When they are frozen they would be lovely red raspberry hearts that I can pop into my mouth whenever I need a quick raspberry fix! ;)
Oooh, I can't wait to eat them!!! *drools*

*Update 25 May 2010 - Here's how the iced raspberry heart looks like! Yums!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Was going through my camera's memory card and found this forgotten picture. Can't believe I hadn't uploaded it yet. Found this little "cutie" here in my backyard about 1.5 months ago. It was the second time in the same week that a dead rat/mouse was found dead in my backyard. Pixie must have given this particular one a heart attack as I can't seem to find any teeth marks to prove that she has bitten the rodent to his death. (yeah, I did a little post-mortem on my own :P)

By the size of it he was probably a young one. Frankly speaking I would say that he is actually quite cute if they weren't such a pest. Big ears, pointy nose, dark round eyes, tiny feet. He reminds me of the movie Ratatouille.

Once, when I was much younger, a rat actually tried to nibble or played with my toes when I was asleep. Being a deep sleeper, I didn't actually bother about it until the guy actually came up to my face (EEEUWWWW!). With my eyes still closed I simply brushed him away and only realised that it was a big black (could have been brown, lights wasn't on so I couldn't really tell) rat was on the same bed with me! I jolted out of bed (nope, no screaming) and ran to my parent's room. By the time they came to my room again it was gone. We probably caught him several days later, I'm not quite sure. And then I found that my bedroom door had been gnawed - and I didn't even realise it because I was in deep sleep :P

I don't have any rodent problems at the moment, but those pesky household geckos are driving me crazy. We have a good supply of mosquitos and flying insects in the backyard because we leave the lights on at night and these pests come to have a feast, then leave their droppings on the walls, ceiling and floor.

If anyone has got a suggestion on how to get rid of them, I'd be very grateful.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Max Brenner!

This post is a little late, but I still need to thank my 3 lovely sisters who are in Brissie at the moment! Last week mom went to the Land Down Under to visit them, and look what she brought home for me! A chocolate fondue set from the Max Brenner shop!!!

A packet each of dark and milk chocolate chunks and a fondue tower for 2

I still haven't decide when I'm gonna devour them yet. Well, I'm suppose to share it with my hubby, but I think I might just hoard it for myself and worry about that ill-fitted pair of jeans later.

Thanks Sis!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The World's Worst Local Bank = HSBC

Warning: One LONG whining story ahead.

One fine day my mom was walking in a shopping complex when being approached by HSBC's credit card marketeer. She politely declined and told the person she wasn't in need of another credit card, and also that her application was declined before by HSBC and she wasn't planning to try again.

After much convincing, my mom decided to give it another try. And while filling up the forms, she wasn't allowed to fill up her latest address but to use the one that was on her IC. She was told that she could request for a change of address later. And so my mom informed the marketeer that the office address she filled may not be complete and in case her application was approved, they will have to call up and reconfirm the address before sending the card.

Approximately 2 weeks later, my mom received an SMS saying that her application has been approved and the card has been sent out. Unfortunately the bank did not call the verify the address again, and after one week she still did not receive the card. We suspected that the incomplete address may have been the cause of the delivery problems, and so we contacted HSBC to check and it was true that the original card was returned to the sender by Poslaju. They promised that they will send again to the right address this time.

Another week passed and yet no card was received. And instead, she received her first statement with RM50 Service Tax charged to her card!!! We called again to check with HSBC and was put on hold for more than 3 times with each hold lasting for eternity. They confirmed that the card has been sent out by normal post, and that's why the service tax has been credited AUTOMATICALLY by the system. My mom was like "WHAT??? How can you charge me service tax for a card that I have not even received??? Have you even any prove of acknowledgements that I have received the card???" And they calmly responded, "I'm sorry m'am, please wait for a few more days and if you still don't receive the card, call us again and we'll send a replacement".

And so my mom waited for a few more days and called HSBC again. You know how it's like when you call this centers and they ask you to key in the credit card or IC number for faster service, and when somebody FINALLY answers the call and ask you for your card number again??? Why on earth did I key in that number for in the first place? To help me pass time so that I won't notice that I've been waiting a whole century for someone to pick up the call??? And then they so sweetly tells you that they need to ask you several questions for verification. Actually it wouldn't have been that frustrating if you hadn't  been put on hold for 3 times, and transferred to 3 different operators and being ASKED for your MOTHER's name 3 times for verification during the same phone call!!! My grandma would certainly have jumped up from her grave and whined about this too if she knew!

Finally the operator apologized and told my mom what she already knew- that the card was already sent on X date by normal post, and if it still hasn't arrived by now it is probably lost. And they will send another one on the way. Again the operator reconfirmed the correct postal address and assured the new card will be sent out immediately. Another 2 weeks down the road my mom has already given up and lost all hopes of actually receiving the card. And she thought she didn't want to waste time calling them anymore until she received another statement from them. This time with an additional RM5 of compensation fee (we still haven't figured out what exactly is a compensation fee) and RM5 of late charges for not paying the service tax.

This was really absurd. My mom had already had enough, and called HSBC again and told them to forget about sending her the card (definitely not nicely I can assure you), and to reverse all the charges on the statement. The operator was stunned but apologized profusely for the inconvenience, and said that she will do the necessary cancellation of the card and charges.

And guess what? This month  my mom promptly received another statement from the bank. Both the service tax and compensation fees have been reversed by the late/finance charges remains standing. Which means my mom still owes HSBC a RM5 after all the unnecessary waiting on the phone and call charges to them trying to track the GHOST card. No doubt they got another lashing, and this time the operator assured that she will not receive anymore statements from them and that the RM5 charges will also be reversed.

That's our World's Local Bank!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Break In

My neighbour's house was broken into today. Thankfully, nobody was at home (they were away for holidays), so nobody was hurt. The burglar was quite daring to break in around noon time, when most of the people would either be at work or at school. My neighbour's house was in the corner, and the burglar came in from the side door, where he would be least visible. Another neighbour claimed that they heard the alarm sound and came out to check, but saw nothing suspicious. Also it was not unusual to have a false alarm, even my own house alarm tend to get triggerred unnecessarily, so they paid no attention.

In the late afternoon, my neighbour's relative came over to water the plants and feed the rabbits, and noticed something was amiss. The curtains on the side door was parted slightly, and the padlock was missing from the grills and it wasn't locked. As soon as she stepped into the house, she was shocked to find a mess and all the drawers and cabinets ransacked. Frightened that the burglar may still be in the house, she quickly left and called the police. Since the owner was not around, they could not confirm what else was missing from the house, except the rabbit (the burglar must either have a soft spot for furry animals or is considering the bunny as his lunch).

Both my husband and I have contrasting reactions to this incident. The first thing that came to my mind was I'm glad that we were not affected and Pixie did not become a victim of cruel acts. I could still recall 2 of our dogs being poisoned 3 years ago, probably done by someone with evil plans. On the other hand my husband was worried about his things being stolen if the burglar was to break into our house, and went paranoia about putting every single thing in the safe.

I remember when we first moved in, he was overly paranoid about keeping the house safe from thieves and burglars that he put locks and double locks on every single door of the house. I told him that if a burglar had any intention of coming in, we would have to lose even more money repairing doors that the burglar breaks. I also told him that if ever there was a fire, I would be burnt alive inside the house because it takes me just too long to unlock the padlocks and grills and doors to escape. And so in the end I told him off because I refused to become a prisoner of my own home, and we finally compromised on a fewer locks which were only absolutely necessary.

Are materials really so important in our lives? To me, nothing is more important than our lives and memories. I would probably be sad if somebody stole my notebook, but I could easily look on the other side and think, "Hey, it's a chance for me to buy a new one!". At least, I'm alive and still able and it won't take me long to earn enough to get a replacement. But it would completely break my heard if the notebook that was stolen contains all my work and photos that I so dearly treasure. That's certainly not something I can rewind and have another second go, can I??

I'd better go check on my backup to make sure it's up to date. If ever I'm so unfortunate to have the burglar interested in my notebook, I'd still have my backups with me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moves & Sorts

Sometime early this year, I was invited to perform with Nanci and Nikki in Moves & Sorts @ the new Actor's Studio in Lot 10. It was a complete new eye opening experience for me, as it has been quite a while since I performed on a stage (the last was during my school days, 15 yrs ago *gasp* - does that count?).

I was quite reluctant, not only did I have stage fright, I didn't think I was actually qualified to perform after only about 6 mths of weekly classes with Nanci. However, Nanci thought otherwise. She asked several of us, whom she thought would be able to handle improvisation and in the end, only Nikki and I agreed. A DJ friend of ours, Mathieu, also agreed to mix the music live for us on stage.

I must say I didn't regret doing this a bit. Yes, I had the butterflies in stomach moments, worried sick that I'd drop the basket, or trip and fall flat on my face (the 3 scars under my chin are proofs of my history of clumsiness), but in the end, all was well. We had so much fun in the dressing room, and improvising to Matt's music on stage. Nikki and myself were especially self-conscious, and we were overly anxious about mistakes that we made while we were live on stage - but all that was put to rest the moment we saw the video my hubby took of us from the first of of audience. Frankly we didn't look too bad after all!

Anyway, that's just another entry to my life chapters. Just thought I'd share it with the world :)

Nikki, Nanci and myself at Actor's Studio performing in one of the slots of Moves & Sorts in Jan 2010
courtesy of Antradika Hamza

One of my favourite photos
courtesy of Antradika Hamza

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Shopping

Popular is having sales up to 90% at the foyer of Summit shopping complex till 21st March 2010. And guess what, I felt that it was time for me to splurge too..*grin* Somehow I don't feel so guilty this time because for the past 2 months I managed to finish reading if not all, at least 90% of what I spent on last year! Yay and double yay!
22 books for less than RM190.00!

I managed to get at least 5-6 books at 90% discount (which means I paid as low as 59cents per book!), and the rest was between 20%-70% discount. It was definitely a real bargain. And I get to keep myself busy for the rest of 2010...though I can't be sure I'd stop buying if there are new sales coming up! :P

*update 29/03/2010 - thanks to Ellis, I got over to BookXcess last weekend and got myself another 10 books :P And I finished one of them in slightly less than an hour... it was afterall a young adult category book... hehehe...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Cake Pops

Thursday, February 04, 2010

If Only...

Somehow that seems to be a favourite word that hangs on everyone's lips these days.

If only you had started dancing 10 years earlier - that was the exact words that my dance instructor said today. Well, he's actually said it many times before, I just never thought about it seriously. So what if I had started dancing earlier? Would my life have been any different?

He is normally full of praises for me; well, when you are being compared to a group who are at least 2 to 3 decades older than you, you'll stand out, no doubt about that. He thinks that I have a natural talent for ballroom dancing, except that I'm lack of the energy compared to those who are a decade younger than me. Of course not forgetting to mention that I'm a married woman, and I won't be able to commit myself to a competitive level unlike those who are still a free spirit, or has a partner who dances professionally too.

Sets me off pondering, if I did start 10 years earlier, would I have pursued dancing on a competitive level? I doubt it. Firstly, I was very very shy before, and I cannot imagine myself dancing to close proximity with another person. Secondly, I'm simply too jittery. Anything that requires me to be under the observation and scrutiny of another being will simply turn my legs to jelly. And most importantly, that my parents would never have approved of me being a dancer, at least not 10 years ago, when people's perception of a dancer was rarely positive.

Frankly I'm happy with the level that I'm at now - as much as I wished for that extra energy that would have boosted my dancing, I'm simply glad that what I'm doing is in the right technique, and I don't feel the need to be competitive.

What's important is that I look good and feel good doing it. I'll dance as long as my feet can take it :)