If you had told me five years ago that I’d end up geeking out over cheese, I probably would’ve raised my brows at you in question. Perhaps it had been a case of an unrefined young palate? Or maybe I had simply eaten too much processed filled cheeses in my childhood. I simply never quite had a special relationship with cheese in my youth.
Turns out, I just didn’t know cheese in the way that I was supposed to. At least, not in the way that I do now. If I only liked cheese in a passing manner before, all the time I’ve spent workingwithReal California Milk Philippines has taught me to appreciate it in a completely new way. It developed in me a special love for cheese that I now very gladly feed. These kinds of surprises are always the most wonderful.
Speaking of surprises, I got the chance to go on a weekend Boracay trip with Real California Milk Philippines at the end of May. It ended up being one of the most fun and educational trips I’ve been to in a while. I learned about cheese from unique approaches this time. Also, I got to meet some pretty awesome people!
None other than “The Cheese Dude” Mark Todd was there to share his cheese wisdom with us. His first tip? Going for cheeses that have the Real California Milk seal on them. The moment you see this seal on any cheese packaging, it’s automatically an assurance of quality and best production practices when it comes to cheese brands that come from California. It’s amazing that the US actually produces more than 25% of the world’s cheese supply, and that California is responsible for 20% of this output.
You can of course buy these cheeses locally at S&R Membership Shopping, Royal Duty Free, Landers Superstore, SM Hypermarket, SM Supermarket, Merkado, PureGold Price Club, Cash & Carry, Rustan’s Supermarket, Robinsons Supermarket, Unimart Supermarket, and Landmark Supermarket. No need to fly all the way to the States for some great dairy!
Today I’m going to share with you the things I learned from this weekend getaway that really raised my appreciation for cheese to the next level. If you try out any of these things, I’m fairly certain you’ll at least find a new perspective when it comes to cheeses. And maybe, like me, you’ll love it a little bit more!
1. Try your hand at making cheese
You know what they say: You never truly appreciate something until you understand how they came to be. In the same way, I always find myself seeing any food item with new eyes the moment I learn how to make them from scratch. Cheese is no exception. Even though we only made some basic cheeses, I can definitely see how much of an art cheese-making can be. As a bonus, we also learned how to make butter.
The geeky part of me had always wanted to try this, so I was stoked we were going to attempt this stuff at all. It’s such an interesting process of adding acid to hot milk, then letting it curdle for a bit until you get cheese. Of course, we used some Real California Milk to make our cheese.
For this activity, we were paired up to make things a little easier. We had to choose between making queso blanco and ricotta. I assumed everyone else would be making ricotta, so my partner Nicole and I went with queso blanco. (Turns out only one pair made ricotta!) For the homemade queso blanco, ingredients and equipment you will need are:
1 gallon whole milk (with the Real California seal, of course)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (plus 1/8 cup for back-up in case you will need it)
4 teaspoons kosher salt
6-quart non-reactive stockpot
Food-grade rubber spatula
Stainless steel whisk
First, you want to slowly heat your milk in the stockpot, checking the temperature every so often until you get to 190°F (88°C). You want to stir the milk often but very gently in up and down motions to prevent burning. This should take at least 20 minutes.
Next, evenly pour in the apple cider vinegar and turn off the heat. You want to take your whisk and gently dip it in and out of the milk, working around in a circle, to incorporate the acid into the milk. DO NOT STIR. (You can see this in action in my vlog at the bottom of this post.) After you’ve done one round, leave the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes are done, take a look at the mixture. If the curds of cheese have formed, there should be visible chunks in the milk. If the milk still looks very cloudy and the curds have not formed, add the last 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar. Leave another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dampen a cheese cloth and set it over a mesh strainer and bowl.
At this point, your cheese should be ready. Use your strainer ladle to gently scoop out the loose balls of cheese that have formed. Put them straight into your cheesecloth, salting between each scoop, and allow to drain for 1 hour. You may also want to help it along by gently squeezing the cheesecloth with the cheese inside. (Be careful as it’s hot!) Now all you have to do is put the cheese into a mold and press it with something a little heavy, for up to 4 hours. You can actually serve the cheese right away, or refrigerate it, tightly covered, and consume within 3 to 4 days.
For the homemade butter, you need only two things: a mason jar, and some good quality heavy cream made with Real California Milk. The cream needs to be around 50°F (10°C) for this trick to work. Basically, you put the cream into the mason jar just a little over halfway, put the cap on, and then shake it like your life depended on it!
The first few minutes is the most crucial according to Mark. Taking that to heart, I shook the jar like a bobble head until I started to get dizzy lol. Nicole and I took turns shaking the jar and somehow after over 10 minutes of work, we got ourselves some creamy softened butter.
There will be some liquid left over in the jar. What you do next is pour the entire thing into a bowl and use a spatula to “squeeze out” any excess liquid from that butter. Just press the butter against the sides of the bowl and get all the liquid out. The liquid is actually buttermilk, so I think it’s pretty cool you get no wastage here.
If you don’t want to do something as involved as this, I totally understand. The next two points are much easier and less time consuming, so read on!
2. Make a flatlay-worthy cheeseboard
You know all of those wooden boards filled with cheeses and fruits and nuts you see on Instagram? Well, they’re actually not that hard to put together as long as you know what you’re doing. Our group had a little fun competition creating our own cheeseboards during this trip. And while we all stuck to our own unique themes, we all had some common factors in all our cheese boards as well.
For me, the most important thing about a cheeseboard is having a good variety of cheeses. You want to have at least one soft cheese, one semi-hard, and one hard cheese EACH on the board. A little something for everyone, if you will. Each cheese gives a different mouthfeel and flavor when paired with stuff like dried fruits, pickled veggies, crackers, or cured meats. Chili-infused honey is also an excellent partner for most cheeses.
While having a variety of textures will make the eating experience more enjoyable, adding some decorative touches also feeds the eyes. Take advantage of colorful trail mixes. Add levels to your cheese platter by stacking your cheeses. Break a big piece of cheese into rough halves to give it a rustic feel. The only limit is your imagination really. I have already written a more in-depth post about cheese boards you can check out for more tips!
You guys read it right: cheese and beer. We’re not going into a debate over whether wine is a better pairing with cheese, but I will say that pairing cheese with beer can create a very unique experience. The malt in the beer does some really interesting things to the taste of cheese. I don’t drink beer so I never attempted this pairing before, but I started to see the “charms” of beer after this.
The basic and most important rule for beer and cheese pairings is that they should complement each other. What I mean by this is: If you have a strong tasting cheese, you should pair it with strong tasting beer, and vice versa. Neither your cheese nor your beer should be wrestling against each other in your mouth, because that can be very unpleasant. In the same vein, it’s pointless to do a pairing when your super malty beer will only drown out your super mild cheese.
Of course, it’s often a case of trial and error when it comes to these things. That was exactly the case when we did our pairing sesh with a selection of local Craft Beers. Mark followed only his instincts when he selected the pairings, and in our own group the reception was varied for each pairing. Check out the pairings we tried and my personal comments about each of them below:
Marin French Triple Crème Brie & Engkanto Pale Ale- This cheese is light and creamy, nicely blending with the fruity and yeasty notes of the beer. There is a hit of bitterness at the end because of the cheese rind, complementing the beer.
Rouge Creamery Chocolate Stout & Crazy Carabao Kalinga Kolsch- This cheese has some mushroom-y truffle-y undertones that shines alongside the clean taste of the beer. I think the beer makes the flavors of the cheese more striking. It didn’t taste as intense when I had the cheese by itself for breakfast when I got home. One of my favorites!
Marin French Breakfast Cheese & Crazy Carabao Lapu Lapu Lager This cheese is super rich and buttery, with hits of sweet and sour that gets balanced out by the strong woody lager. This cheese is a little too much for me on its own, but I definitely like it with the beer. The ending is mildly bitter.
Rogue Creamery Rosemary Cheddar & Joe’s Brew Fish Rider Pale Ale I loved this cheese on its own. Fragrant with just the right amount of rosemary flavor! Eaten with the beer, there’s a moment where the strong bitter taste of the ale takes over all the flavors in your mouth, but somehow the finish is super complex. You get this mix of fruity, bitter, and herby. Interesting.
Point Reyes Toma Cheese & The Cebruery Dumaguete Dubble- This was the pairing I liked the least. It was kind of meh for me. The cheese had a mild classic taste that I can’t even remember anymore, and the beer was WAAAAY too strong for it. The cheese manages to come through at the end, but you have to sit through the mineral (almost rust-like) scent and taste of the beer first.
Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar & Illusion Brewery Dark Hat Porter- I can understand why this cheese has won awards for being Best Mature Cheese. It’s such a delicious, smoky cheese on its own! In contrast, I wasn’t a fan of the beer. The porter was SUPER intense, and my looking for the coffee in it only gave me this… I don’t even know how to explain the flavor. Forest-y? Plant-like? But my goodness they paired so well together. I don’t even know how it managed to become one of my favorite pairings!
Vela Dry Jack & Cerveza Sagada Saison- I loved this super nutty dry cheese and I think that’s what saved this pairing for me ultimately. The beer started out being way too funky for me. The cheese somehow manages to take over, so the finish wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be after the initial sip of beer.
Point Reyes Original Blue & Crazy Carabao Exit Wounds IPA- This was another deliciously creamy cheese with very strong shroom-y undertones. I do like bleu cheese so I was excited to see the effect of any beer paired with it. As long as you don’t drink too much of the IPA, I actually think it enhances the taste of the bleu cheese.
It’s hard to get the nuances of each pairing at first, but I think it’s best to just let yourself taste the pairings without pressure so you can identify which ones you like. I didn’t expect to like the very strong cheese and very strong beer pairing yet here we are! I tend to like to chew the cheese a little bit before taking a sip of beer, but you can do the reverse. Real California Milk has more recommendations for beer and cheese pairings right here.
Well this has turned out to be a long post. Yet another proof of how I’ve truly taken my love for cheese to the next level! You can check out my awesome weekend experience with Real California Milk Philippines through this vlog as well:
Cheesy Fun with Real California Milk in Boracay [VLOG] - YouTube
PS. This was the loot we took home from this weekend trip. All I can say is: I am SUPER excited to cook and bake from these cookbooks! I will definitely share the results here.
I really must credit the sorbeteros for starting my love affair with avocado and queso and ube ice cream. When I was a kid, I remember often being on the lookout for ice cream carts passing by my school during recess. The smart manong sorbeteros would park just below the classroom windows on the ground floor, where we could reach through the railed windows for our orders. I remember vividly how hands would reach out of the window and come back in with cones piled high with differently colored scoops.
Technically, we weren’t allowed to be buying stuff through the windows; but I’ve always felt that the occasional trouble was worth the prize. Every time a teacher came over to reprimand us, we’d simply find another window in another classroom to do our ice cream transactions. Gosh was life simple back then! All it took to make me smile was a big lump of purple ube ice cream staring back at me atop a cone.
I learned to appreciate ube since I was young, so I knew when I came across this recipe that I would be making it. Out of the typical Pinoy sorbetes flavors you can find from the mobile ice cream sellers, I’ve already made Cheese Ice Cream and Avocado Ice Cream. I haven’t tested any no-churn versions of these flavors yet so the recipes I have on the blog at the moment will require an ice cream maker to accomplish, but this recipe for Ube Ice Cream does not. I do highly suggest using a electric hand or stand mixer though, just to make whipping the cream much easier.
This recipe pleasantly surprised me. I’ve tried no-churn ice creams before and they’d often be overly sweet and not creamy at all, but this ube ice cream was incredible. I knew the moment I’d gotten that fluffy base down that the resulting ice cream would be creamy AF, yet I wasn’t expecting it to be this close to a churned version. It was such a DREAM to scoop out. The ube ice cream was gliding on the surface, rolling into perfectly balled scoops.
Each mouthful was a delight, you guys. This is the type of classic Pinoy ice cream that would go perfectly with a hot piece of pandesal!
This was admittedly a bit sweeter than I would’ve preferred, but what can you expect with an ice cream base that has condensed milk in it? I decided that the work-around I’d do was throw in some savory shredded cheese to balance out the sweet. I didn’t incorporate it into the ube ice cream base because I preferred a non-frozen cheese topping for this. Can’t say I regret the decision!
So this recipe needs exactly five ingredients. If you live in the Philippines, it shouldn’t be hard for you to acquire the purple yam things you need for this recipe. The flavoring is easily found in the baking aisle; and I like to use the McCormick brand because it has a nice color and scent. As for the ube jam or ube halaya, you can use your favorite brand. My personal favorite is Bahay Pastulan‘s delicious ube jam, and since I already wrote about it previously, you can just click the link below to know more about it.
No-churn recipes are simple in that there are really only two main steps. First, whip your cream into stiff peaks. In the recipe box below, I included an instruction about chilling your bowl and mixer attachment before whipping the cream. This part is optional but because it is so hot in the Philippines right now, I feel that this helps a lot in making my cream whip up beautifully into stiff peaks. In another bowl is where you add all the flavorings into the condensed milk before putting the two together.
When you start to fold your cream into the ube-flavored condensed milk base, you want to first take a little bit of the cream and quickly work it into the condensed milk to loosen the mixture up. This will make it a lot easier for you to fold in the rest of the whipped cream with the minimal amount of strokes.
The key here is to be able to fold in the whipped cream without deflating the entire mixture. Obviously, overmixing will not help. What you want to end up with is something fluffy and airy, like this:
Once your airy mixture is ready, transfer it to your ice cream container. In this case, I used a large loaf pan. Before freezing, make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the ice cream to keep giant ice crystals from forming on top. Now all you need to do is freeze the ice cream overnight. Depending on how cold your freezer is, you could probably get away with 6 hours. I just always leave it in overnight to make sure it sets fully.
The moment you take out your scooper and get into the ice cream, you will see that even if it’s straight from the freezer, it is just the right amount of frozen without being rock solid. As you scoop, you can feel right away how creamy the ice cream is as it rolls back in on itself. I mean, that looks like beautiful store-bought ube ice cream, doesn’t it? Dare I say, even better!
I have this habit of eating ube ice cream with cheese, so I topped mine with some shredded cheddar cheese. This ice cream may be on the sweet side, but it still delivers a creamy and satisfying ube taste. Add cheese into the mix and it becomes a real winner! In fact, I recommend making an ice cream sandwich out of this using pandesal or a mini burger bun. Place some strips of cheese onto the bread, then add scoops of ice cream on top. Enjoy on a hot summer afternoon!
I think something this easy and this good is simply perfection.
No-Churn Ube Ice Cream
An incredibly easy way to make the Pinoy favorite ube ice cream. No ice cream maker needed to make this creamy treat!
Makes about 1 liter
500 ml cold heavy cream
300 ml condensed milk
150 grams ube halaya or ube jam
20 ml ube flavoring (I use McCormick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Before starting, place a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer with the respective attachments in the fridge or freezer for at least 20 minutes. Whip the cold heavy cream to stiff peaks using your cold equipment.
2. In another large bowl, stir together condensed milk, ube jam, ube flavoring, and vanilla. Take a generous dollop of stiff whipped cream and fold into the condensed milk-ube mixture to lighten.
3. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully combined, taking care not to go overboard with the mixing to avoid deflating the mixture. You should get a fluffy and airy mixture.
4. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and cover with cling wrap. Make sure to gently press the cling wrap against the surface of the ice cream base to keep ice crystals from forming on top.
5. Freeze overnight. It should be creamy and smooth when you scoop it out the next day.
If my previous post was about cuisine I wish I had more of, this one is going to be about one I’ve been enjoying most the past few months: Korean cuisine. I suppose it’s my love for spicy things and stews that draws me towards Korean food. Most people are addicted to unlimited K-BBQ, but that’s just one part of Korean cuisine. Funnily enough, it was the part we decided to skip when we ate at Bornga.
I’m going to keep this post short because I don’t have that many photos of the meal we had at Bornga. I was initially thinking about not posting about it because I wasn’t too happy about the pictures, but talking about it feels like the right thing to do. These days, most Korean restos that put a focus on they K-BBQ are rather haphazard about the rest of their Korean offerings. Not Bornga though.
I feel that the Bornga here is located in such a strange place. In Tokyo, the Bornga branch is HUGE and is prominently located in Koreatown (Okubo). Here though, Bornga is located inside a condo building in Makati, on the second floor of the Alphaland Makati Place. Alighting the escalator, it’s not easy to spot the restaurant even as you look around. You have to walk all the way to one end of the second floor, where Bornga is literally hidden in one corner.
The restaurant itself is no-frills– like a classic looking Korean BBQ place straight out of Seoul. Despite the simplistic interior, do not expect to find cheap meats on the menu. This restaurant is what I’d call a mid-level BBQ place, although obviously if you order the more choice cuts of beef, it will still set you back around Php 1000 for two slices. Looking back, I kind of regret not trying at least one kind of meat to barbecue. Had we been a little hungrier, we would’ve ordered at least one kind. Next time.
Bornga doesn’t have the best banchan selection I’ve ever eaten, but as per usual, these side dishes are refillable any number of times you wish. I am a bit of a sucker for banchan so even when our main dishes began to arrive, I was still asking for refills lol.
I did forget about that for a moment when the Haemul Pajeon (Php 550) arrived. I have to admit, it’s one of the more impressive-looking pajeon I’ve eaten locally. The pancake is so thick and so substantial it can really fill you up. I loved the onion flavor in the pancake that lingers at the back of your tongue. This wasn’t as greasy as other pajeon, plus the seafood inside was generous. The shrimp were popping! It was really heavy, as it should be at that price.
We ordered some fairly typical dishes up next, getting the spicy and smoky Chicken Gochujang Barbecue (Php 600) to go with some white rice. The chicken is packed with flavor although perhaps just a tad dry. And because my family never gets enough of Dolsot Bibimbap (Php 380), we had to try Bornga’s version. It tastes like any other correctly made bibimbap. I always prefer bibimbap in stone pots because it continues to cook the rice and create these crunchy bits at the bottom.
Chicken Gochujang Barbecue
Two of my favorite dishes of the night were the Suntofu Jjigae (Php 350) and the Bibim-naengmyeon (Php 350). The tofu stew was just delightful! It was packed full of warmth and tofu and shellfish. There’s something so comforting about Korean stews, especially ones that are this good! Eating with rice is the way to go. I must say though, the spicy kick really wakes the tastebuds! As for the noodles, I can’t tell you when my favoritism began, but Bibim-naengmyeon has been in my top 3 favorite Korean dishes since the start of my love affair with K-cuisine. I am pretty picky about it, and I thought Bornga made a DELICIOUS Bibim-naengmyeon.
I admit this review would have been complete had we fired up the grill for some K-BBQ, but I can’t say I’m dissatisfied with all the other great dishes we got to try. Despite being an international chain owned by a celebrity chef, it stays true to its ‘original korean taste‘ mantra. Bornga simply focuses on as close an authentic Korean experience as possible without banking on anything gimmicky. It manages to take me back to Seoul with its food actually. The only thing lacking is background noise exclusively in hangeul. The prices are a bit on the more expensive spectrum for some of the dishes though, so prepare your budget accordingly!
2nd Flr. Alphaland Makati Place ,
Ayala Aveue Ext., Cor. Malugay St,
Makati City, Metro Manila Hours: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM Contact No.: (02) 519 6980 Facebook
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.
If you enjoyed this post, do follow me on social media for more. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you around!
At this moment, if there’s one cuisine I wish I could have more of, it’s Mexican. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Mexican restaurants near me, but there is a grocery store a few blocks away. Somehow, it became much easier to take things into my own hands. When I decided to make these Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas, I had two main reasons: I wanted to use up some leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and I was craving for quesadillas.
Little did I know that these would end up breaking the record for fastest disappearing dish of all time. I turned my back for a few seconds and they were gone! I don’t think my brothers have ever eaten anything I’ve made with as much enthusiasm and gusto lol.
Well, it does make sense. It’s kind of impossible not to like anything cheesy and spicy and tangy and savory and just a delight to gobble up as these Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas!
Mexican cuisine feels like the next big thing over here. There are a handful of restaurants serving Mexican food that are huge fan favorites, but because the branches are so few and far between, I couldn’t drum up the energy to line up for hours just to get a seat. But as more people get on the Mexican food bandwagon and more Mexican spots open up around the metro, I’m bound to write about them over here one day!
For now, let’s talk about these Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas.
The amount of time I spent prepping the ingredients to make these Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas felt ridiculously long compared to the time it took my family to finish the entire batch. I sliced so many tomatoes, shredded a lot of cheese and chicken, but I can’t say it wasn’t worth it. I was happy that my family enjoyed the quesadillas, but more importantly, I DID TOO.
The best part about these quesadillas is that the ingredients aren’t complicated nor hard to find. Canned chipotle peppers are becoming more available in supermarkets, especially in places like Rustan’s, Landmark, and Uni-mart that carry a lot of imported goods. (I got mine from the States actually.) You don’t need to make your own tortilla wraps since these ones by Mission are pretty good. If you’re picking cheese, go for good-quality cheddar that melt nicely.
There’s nothing difficult about the filling at all. It’s all a matter of sautéing and mixing things around. I recommend using fresh tomatoes but you can use canned diced tomatoes in a pinch. Just let the liquid cook down.
This chicken and tomato filling can be made up to 2 days ahead. Before storing, let cool, then cover and refrigerate. It will heat right back up once you’re ready to assemble the quesadillas.
If you have a large griddle, use that to make the quesadillas so you can make a few at a time. For every piece of tortilla wrap, you only want to use 2/3 cup of shredded cheese. It will be enough! Too much will cause the cheese to run off the tortilla and create a mess. It’ll make it harder to flip the quesadillas, plus it will make some burnt cheese splotches on your pan. You want to keep the cooking surface clean for the next batch.
Now 1/2 cup of the chicken filling goes on half of the tortilla, right on top of the melted cheese. You want to fold the top over the filling in one quick but careful move. Press it lightly to make it stick, and from here you want to toast the quesadillas on both sides before transferring to your serving plate. That’s it!
You’ll want to leave the Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas alone for a couple of minutes to let the filling set, BUT be sure not to take too long to serve them. As they cool, they will get soggy and the cheese will harden. (Though it will still taste good, it’s not the best or optimal way to enjoy these.) If this does happen, you can pop them in a 350°F (180°C) oven to heat them up, but they won’t be as crisp and gooey as they are fresh.
This recipe makes quite a lot of quesadillas, but it’s so good you’ll be happy you made tons of extras. Serve with whatever the heck you like!
Chipotle Chicken Quesadiilas
A deliciously cheesy chicken quesadilla with a chipotle kick and a freshness brought on by tomatoes.
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion, preferably red
4 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (approximately 6 chilis)
1¼ pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons honey
2½ cups cooked shredded chicken
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
6 10-inch diameter flour tortillas
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream or guacamole, for serving (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
2. Stir in the chipotle peppers and tomatoes, cooking until the tomatoes start to soften and not too much liquid is in the mixture. Stir in the scallions, honey, chicken, salt, and cilantro. Set aside but keep warm.
3. Heat a clean sauté pan over medium heat and lightly coat with a touch of oil (or use a light coat of nonstick cooking spray). Lay a tortilla in the pan and heat until just hot to the touch but not crisp. Don’t worry about the air pockets, if there are any.
4. Flip the tortilla over, then sprinkle 2/3 cup of the shredded cheese evenly on top. Do not use over 2/3 cup so that the cheese does not overflow and try your best to keep the cheese off the pan. Spread a heaping 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture over half of the tortilla.
5. Once the cheese is mostly melted, fold the half of the tortilla without the chicken over, forming a half moon.
6. Cook the tortilla on each side for a few minutes, until crisp and golden and the cheese has started to bubble. Adjust the heat as necessary. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
7. Let the quesadillas rest a few minutes to allow the filling to set before cutting into wedges. Serve with sour cream or guacamole and lime wedges, if desired. Make sure to serve the quesadillas immediately to keep them from getting soggy. If not serving right away, heat them up inside a 350°F (180°C) oven before serving, but they won’t be as crisp and gooey anymore.
Though I would recommend eating this all up while fresh, cooked quesadillas can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before reheating, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat wrapped in foil in a 325°F oven until hot, about 20 to 30 minutes.
The chicken mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool before covering and refrigerating.
I’ve been excited to share this Coffee Tres Leches Cake recipe for a while now, but between the burnout I had to conquer and issues with my Internet, I decided to push it back and push it back… Until weeks turned into months! I finally sat down and edited the video of my making this though, and while it’s not one of my best videos for sure, my excitement won over.
If you want to skip all my blabber and go right to the recipe, scroll to the ‘Recipe notes’ section where the video is too. Otherwise, I’ll tell you a little more about how this Coffee Tres Leches Cake came to be.
My first Tres Leches Cake wasn’t particularly mind-blowing, so I had this idea of trying to make it again, but this time I wanted to make a flavored Tres Leches Cake. I had two flavors I was choosing from, but I decided to make this one first since ya’ll know I love coffee. When I checked the Internet, I couldn’t find one specific recipe that really called out to me, so I decided to mix and match a couple of recipes.
It took some time, but I somehow found a combination of components from different sources that felt right together. And like magic, this Coffee Tres Leches Cake turned out to be so much better than I imagined!
Let’s start with the cake base from Honestly Yum, because it is the star of this recipe, truly. It was so light and fluffy it was like a sponge that soaked in the three-kinds-of-milk-plus-coffee solution that I poured in. It held the liquid inside its crumb, releasing this coffee-tinged milky explosion every time you bite into the cake.
The literal icing on top that made this cake even better was the Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting from Tatyana’s Everyday Food. It added that savory tang that only a cream cheese frosting can, and somehow that helped to round out this Coffee Tres Leches Cake. All the components together helped turn this into a cake that packs a wallop despite how simple it looks.
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give you for this particular recipe is to allow the cake to soak overnight rather than the minimum of 3 hours. It really gives the cake some time to set and trap all the glorious liquid inside. That’s the entire point of a Tres Leches Cake anyway.
While all the components of this cake are fairly simple to make, I do want to give a gentle reminder that it’s imperative that your cake batter is nice and airy before you pour it into the pan for baking. Make sure to properly beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then avoid overmixing them into your egg yolk-based batter so that the batter stays aerated. You want a fluffy cake here that can suck in all the coffee-milk soak.
Also, I highly recommend using strong brewed coffee for the soak. If you want that coffee taste to shine through more than the milk, find yourself a good strong, dark brew. Check out the video below to see how to make this cake!
[RECIPE] Coffee Tres Leches Cake - YouTube
If you want a thick layer of frosting on top of your cake, I suppose you can add another half recipe of the frosting to the original measurements. For me, this is just the right amount so as not to overpower the rest of the cake. This Coffee Tres Leches Cake is such a glorious play of textures in the mouth. Somehow the fluffy but also “juicy” cake that explodes as you chew goes so well with that equally fluffy but also creamy coffee cream cheese frosting.
As for the taste, all I can say is, THIS THING IS REAL GOOD. Trust me!
Coffee Tres Leches Cake
The classic three-milk cake gets an upgrade with the addition of coffee in the soak and more coffee on the frosting!
Makes one 9x13-inch cake
For the Sponge Cake
2¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1¼ cups + ¼ cup sugar, divided use
¾ teaspoon salt
7 large eggs, separated
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoons cream of tartar or lemon juice (optional)
For the Coffee-Milk Soak
1 14-ounce (400 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-fluid ounce (355 mL) can evaporated milk
½ cup whole milk
½ cup very strong brewed coffee or espresso
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the Coffee-Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce bar (227 grams) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder or espresso powder
2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 cups (473 mL) cold heavy cream
Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan with butter and evenly coat with flour, making sure to tap out the excess flour.
2. In a medium bowl, place the egg yolks. Add the oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk until well-combined.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the first 1¼ cups sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg yolk mixture. Mix quickly but thoroughly, about 1 minute, until just smooth.
5. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. (Using an electric mixer or stand mixer here will make things easier and quicker.) Add in the cream of tartar or lemon juice, if using, then beat on medium high until soft peaks start to form.
6. Continuing to beat the egg whites, slowly add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the whites become shiny and hold stiff peaks. Do not overmix at this stage!
7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/3 of the whites at normal speed to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined and the batter is aerated. Be careful not to overwork the batter or else you might deflate it.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, tilting the pan around until the batter evens out. Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for a moment while you prepare the coffee-milk soak.
Make the soak
9. In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the soak.
10. Once the cake has cooled for at least 5 minutes, take a toothpick or skewer and poke as many holes as you can all over the cake, down to the bottom. Pour the coffee-milk soak over the warm cake gradually, as the cake will absorb the soak slowly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Make the frosting
11. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. In a small glass, dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water, then pour into the cream cheese mixture. Beat everything together until completely smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
12. Pour in the cold heavy cream and continue to whisk until the frosting is fluffy and is able to somewhat hold its shape. Spread the frosting all over the soaked cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate another 30 minutes before serving.
Since I’ve already started talking about one of my favorite things in the world in my previous post, I thought I’d continue with the theme for a few more posts, starting with these Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.
These cookies, oh how do I even describe these? Let’s just say, I had a good feeling about them the moment I pulled them out of the oven. The glorious smell of coffee wafted and melded with the butter and sugar scent that is present in pretty much every baked good. I remember thinking: This is one of the most amazing-smelling cookies I’ve ever made!
Although these Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies are a dream cookie for coffee-lovers like myself, I have a hunch these would appeal to any other chewy chocolate chip cookie lover in general. If you obsess over trying every choco chip cookie recipe you come across (like me!), this recipe will add a nice variation to your choco chip cookie collection.
For something named Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, you get exactly what you might expect. If you use good-quality espresso powder or instant coffee here, you get a coffee scent and flavor that is so gloriously apparent in the cookies. As you all know, coffee and chocolate are one of those ingredient combos that go super well together, and this cookie proves that to be true. The cookies also have this very nice caramel note to them. SO GOOD.
And just because we’re going all the way to make these awesome, I find that adding a pinch of sea salt on top makes all the other flavors shine even more. (Flaky sea salt is probably preferable.) If you don’t tend to enjoy salt on your cookies, you can omit it just fine. In any case, a good chewy chocolate chip cookie is hard to beat, salt or no salt!
This recipe makes use of melted butter, beaten together with brown and white sugar, some vanilla, and the coffee granules. It is very important that you incorporate the sugars really well with the butter here so that they don’t separate as you go through the recipe. Not doing this step properly will affect the outcome of your cookies. You can actually use a stand mixer to make the mixing process easier. By hand, it takes a bit of time. What you’re looking for is something akin to thick caramel.
This thick coffee-scented caramel-like base will loosen up a bit once the eggs are added in. It will be liquid enough for the flour to create a soft dough that’s almost like creamed butter. Not to worry though, the dough becomes easier to handle once you add the chocolate chips right in. (Not that you’ll need to roll these in your hands.)
You can make these cookies in advance and store the dough in the fridge if you want, but since it bakes up nicely without requiring refrigeration, I suggest you just go through to the end. I used a regular ice cream scoop to portion my dough and got 21 big cookies. They had crackly tops and baking them for 15 minutes produced perfectly chewy cookies for me. If you plan to use a smaller scoop, you may need to bake for a few minutes less. You can also bake them longer for firmer cookies.
I suppose with these darker hued choco chip cookies, it’s a little harder to tell if the edges have turned golden brown and are therefore ready to be taken out, but you will notice that the cookies look set all around while the tops are soft but have a crust-like surface.
The cookies will be a little puffy fresh from the oven, but settle as it cools down. They will certainly tempt you to eat them right away, but calm yourself! They will be too soft still. Give them at least 5 minutes to set once they’re at room temperature before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
The resulting Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies created by this recipe will smell and taste amazing depending on the type of coffee powder you use. I find that it is really hard to find espresso powder that’s in a small size where I’m from, so for recipes that call for espresso powder, I have been using Trader Joe’s Columbian blend instant coffee. It is one of the few instant black coffees I enjoy drinking, and so far, I get stellar results when I bake with it. (Anybody remember these awesome Coffee Buns?) I have to credit this coffee big-time for making my Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies amazing.
Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of my new favorite recipes for chocolate chips. The addition of the coffee component makes these not just smell amazing but taste so good too. Perfect for lovers of coffee and chocolate both.
Makes 21 to 24 big cookies
2 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) salted butter, melted and cooled
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling (optional but good)
1. Preheat the oven to 330°F (165°C) and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer or whisk), beat the melted butter, both sugars, coffee granules, and vanilla. If using a mixer, beat for about 2 minutes until the sugars are incorporated into the butter. The mixture will look a bit like very thick caramel. (It will take longer if mixed by hand, but completely doable.)
4. Add the egg and yolk, then continue to beat until light and fluffy.
5. Switch to a spatula and add in the dry ingredients. Mix briefly until just combined and some streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips just until distributed.
6. Using a scooper or a tablespoon, portion out the dough onto the baking sheets. You can make either big or small cookies, but make sure to allot at least 2 inches of space between each cookie to give them room to spread.
7. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. (This step is optional but I find it a good habit to ALWAYS add a touch of sea salt to every chocolate chip cookie I make.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for smaller cookies, or around 15 to 17 minutes for bigger cookies.*
8. Cool in the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes or until set enough to move, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy with milk!
*The cookies are more or less ready once golden and set around the edges, but you can add more baking time if you want crunchier cookies. I always prefer chewy ones so I take them out of the oven when the edges are set but the middle is still a bit soft.
To say that I’m one of those incredibly happy about the surging Filipino coffee scene would be an understatement. First it was chocolate and now it’s coffee– two of my favorite things in the world! Ever since my introduction to Figures of Beans, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for other local brands. It didn’t take long for more brands to sprout online, and my adventures in trying out the different Filipino coffee brands out there began to take shape.
Years ago, I had no idea that there were so many places that cultivated coffee in the country. Batangas barako was always famous, but it has been the Mountain Provinces that have been taking the spotlight in recent years. There are now a lot of farmers growing mostly arabica and robusta in the Cordilleras, specifically Benguet and Sagada. Mindanao also produces quite a bit of coffee, although I have yet to try any.
The best part about this growing coffee industry in the country is how much it helps the lives of Pinoy farmers. I have always wondered why the government gives too little attention to farmers, but somehow I am relieved that at least some private individuals recognize the importance of the local farming industry. Most of the Filipino coffee brands I will be sharing today have made it a mission to partner with local farmers, not just to keep their business going, but to give their partner farmers a consistent source of livelihood.
And that’s why I decided to write this little post here today. It’s my way of recognizing all the effort put into creating these products. I don’t know how much this will help in the grand scheme of things, but I want people to know that Filipino coffee can be just as good as those expensive imported coffees. Heck, I am so proud that we can make this kind of coffee actually. From the quality of beans down to the super swanky packaging, these Filipino coffee brands can absolutely stand their own against foreign brands.
Obviously there are tons of other Filipino coffee brands I have not yet tried so I only have a handful of them in this list, but I have tried enough to pick favorites. (Marked them with stars, I did!) I have in fact already repurchased several of them.
You will notice that a lot of the Filipino coffee brands in this list come in drip coffee form, just because it is such a convenient way to get a nice brew. I also do do not add any sugar or cream to my coffee, preferring it black and full-flavored. Just a little disclaimer however: Because I am not a coffee tasting expert, I can’t really give you super specific descriptions. (I would love to learn though!) However I do know what I like in a coffee and that’s how I’ve managed to choose my faves. Well, I’ve blabbered way too long. Let’s get on with the list, shall we?
Basilio’s coffee beans are sourced from different parts of the Philippines. The company teaches local farmers air roasting techniques to allow them to sell their coffee in their own communities, and not just to supply to Basilio. Their blends are made up of Philippine Arabica, Robusta, and Excelsa beans. At first, I only encountered Basilio coffee coming in big bags of coffee beans, but when they came out with drip bags I jumped on the chance to try this Filipino coffee. And I am so glad I did!
They have several available blends but I’ve only tried this one so far and I LOVE IT. I feel like the air-roasting adds an amazing scent and this toasty dark roasted taste to the coffee that is strong and deep. Maybe people who don’t enjoy strong coffee will want to drink this with lots of milk and sugar, but this is the kind of coffee I like drinking black. Dark and bold and nuanced, with a scent that makes any coffee-lover smile!
BrewsCo is a Filipino coffee brand that boasts an expertise in proper coffee bean roasting and coffee bean evaluation. Their in-house quality control person even happens to be a certified member of several coffee guilds in America. Their beans however do not exclusively come from Filipino farms, because they also source from abroad. All the processes to create the finished and packaged product are done locally though.
I bought myself BrewsCo’s assorted pack of drip coffees, and I just want to say the colorful packaging of these products are so nice to look at! I love that there are descriptions of the blends so people will know what to expect. The flavored ones aren’t my favorites from the pack although they smelled pleasant enough. My favorite here is the Moreno, which to me is their darkest and deepest blend.
This brand’s coffee comes from the municipality of Amadeo in Cavite, home of the Pahimis Festival from which one of the blends gets its namesake. It is proudly one of the suppliers of coffee beans to Nestle Philippines, Universal Robina Corp., and Figaro, to name a few. Of course, they also sell their beans under their own Amadeo name.
This is the first coffee I’ve tried that comes in a tea bag for steeping, and I think it’s a clever idea. Except the strings on these tea bags get detached so easily! I also want to mention that the teabags do not come individually packed inside the plastic. I suppose that’s how they keep this product super cheap.
If you don’t like strong coffee and prefer something on the light side, Cafe Amadeo’s blends will become your friend. You absolutely must use only a small amount of water in a teacup for best experience. This to me tastes like a drowned out Americano, with the Pahamis having maybe a bit more flavor than the Excelsa. It does not give me the satisfying hit or flavor profile I personally look for in coffee, so I am not a big fan of these blends. However, I thought it was worth a mention for those who like coffee lite.
From the packaging alone, it’s clear that Cafe-Te-Ria proudly highlights the local origins of their coffee. Seeing the potential of the rich mountain soil of the Philippines in producing quality coffee, this family-owned business was started in 2014. To this day, Cafe-Te-Ria continues to produce quality coffee while also engaging in the mission of empowering local farmers by teaching them modern farming methods. Their dream is to see the local coffee industry become great again. (A dream I share.)
I am always so grateful when brands make these kinds of sampler sets so that potential customers can get a little taste before committing to buy big bags. However, because Cafe-Te-Ria does not sell their coffees in drip bags, you will need some sort of brewing instrument to drink this. For the record, I enjoyed every blend available in this box, but my favorite is the Jacinto blend. I even bought a big bag of ground Jacinto blend coffee so that my family can try it out too.
If you’re looking for straightforward coffee blends, Daybreak Coffee is your go-to. Their blends are identified by source, making it easier for you to identify your coffee preference. There is liberica or barako from Batangas (medium roasted with a bold taste and strong aroma), Arabica from Benguet (full-bodied, balanced, with hints of citrus), and finally, Arabica from Sagada (dark-roasted with a smooth body).
This was one of the first few brands I tried since falling in love with coffee from the Mountain Provinces. Ironically, my favorite from the set is the Batangas Coffee, though the Sagada one does a great job of waking me up too! My only gripe with this brand is how frail its drip bag is. The handle sometimes breaks off from the bag even as I am just halfway through pouring the water in.
Dipbrew is a beautifully packaged brand that sources their beans from different regions in the Philippines. They make use of a wide range of recipes that infuse the best qualities of each coffee species to create their blends. Dipbrew comes in four blends: Classic, Morning Kick, Macadamia, and Hazelnut-Vanilla. They also come in both drip coffee and big-bag coffee sizes.
The grind this brand puts into their drip bags is coarser than most, and the mouth of their bag doesn’t quite open too big so you have to be careful with the hot water. I’ve also had handles break off from the bag occasionally. This used to be a favorite but I had to downgrade it when I noticed that the quality of the coffee on my second buy doesn’t seem to be as good as my first buy. However I still enjoy their Classic Blend the most. Just like with BrewsCo, I’m not terribly fond of the flavored blends.
Ah, the coffee brand that started my love affair with local coffee! I’m not going to write a long introduction about Figures of Beans because I already wrote an entire blog post about it. I am going to say however that this brand has a special place in my heart, not only for the reason I mentioned in the first sentence, but also because it makes damn good coffee.
They don’t pack their coffee in drip bags (yet?), but I absolutely love looking through the coffee sets they come up with! Their black packaging is super saucy and sleek. It’s export-ready, to be frank. I also love the names they assigned to their coffee blends.
This is probably the only brand I’ve tried so far where I enjoyed the flavored blends because it infuses more naturally with the coffee. The flavorings don’t stand out in a semi-sickly sweet way but blends in with the scent and flavor of the coffee ever so nicely. Most recently, we bought and finished up a bag of Metaphor (Caramel Coffee). When we’re in a more serious-coffee mode, we go for Irony (Sagada) or Paradox (Benguet).
This drip coffee is the Great Basket brand’s flagship product, so it follows that they have done extensive research- followed by a long search around the country for the best organic coffee- to be able to make a topnotch product. I can’t find a lot of info on this product online, which annoys me because I really like this coffee!
I was instantly in love with Great Basket the moment I took my first sip. The intensity of the roast and the blend of the beans were perfect for my tastebuds, and I find myself sipping ever so slowly so I can savor this coffee. Just like most black coffees, I find it pairs well with dessert hehehe… My only issue with this brand is that it is so elusive! I wish more online stores carried it because it deserves a wider fanbase!
And there you have it! My brain is currently not coming up with any words for an outro but I certainly hope this post introduced some new things to everyone. Which of these Filipino coffee brands have you tried? Which brands are you excited to try? Comment down below while I go and grab myself a cuppa!
If you enjoyed this post, do follow me on social media for more. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you around!
You know it’s summer when all the ants start coming out of their hiding places. It makes it a little difficult to bake when you’re always keeping watch for them, at the same time, it’s not really stopping me is it? I feel especially inclined to get in the kitchen when I’m prepping to try a recipe that has the word “Best” in the title, taunting me to taste to believe. And I must say, this recipe makes an Awesome Carrot Cake. Indeed, possibly one of the best I’ve made and eaten.
When I think of summer, for some reason, I think of carrot cake. I can’t explain why, but it could be the colors of the ingredients, or the way carrot cake evokes a sweet summery nostalgia. I mean, I like me a good carrot cake anytime of the year, but it just feels more particularly appealing in the summer.
Nonetheless, when I came across this particular recipe labeled as “Best Carrot Cake” from Style Sweet CA, I knew I had to give it a try. Labeling things as “best” is always tricky, and for me, it always arouses my curiosity. It makes me want to deliberately test the recipe for its level of “best-ness” compared to the other recipes I’ve made. And oh boy what a shock it was to me when I realized that the last time I made a carrot cake on this blog was on April 2016. My favorite version until today was this recipe I made in 2011, and I have to say, this one really makes a case for why it has received a “best” label.
You get all the goodness of carrots, pineapple, and raisins in every bite, plus a bit of that cinnamon-y warmth that is always welcome despite the summer heat. The flavors of this cake actually come out even more as the days pass, and whether you eat the cake cold or at room temperature, the experience is equally enjoyable.
Although I can vaguely remember making a carrot cake that has a slightly better flavor than this one, I can say without a doubt that this has the best texture among the carrot cakes I’ve made so far. It’s so freaking moist! There’s no other word to describe it. Especially once you frost between the layers (and I was kind of stingy with the frosting, I admit), the moist cake almost turns creamy when you eat it with the frosting.
A carrot cake is one of the easiest things you can make because the recipe is usually very forgiving. You literally just mix everything together, but of course you have to take care also not to overmix the batter. The frosting is pretty much the same thing, because it’s a dump and mix kind of thing too. While I used almond meal for my batter, you can easily sub it out for flour as mentioned in the recipe below.
The only thing that you have to make a “difficult” decision on with regards to this cake is how many layers you want to make it into. I made four layers, baking two pans of cake and then slicing each cake in half, but you can make a three-layer cake out of this one too. This way, each layer gets a more generous coat of frosting.
The cake layers themselves are impressive in their texture. I made these on a Sunday afternoon, refrigerated in a really cold fridge, then sliced through them and frosted them on Monday night. The layers stayed moist and did not dense up or harden in the fridge. I would not describe the crumb of this as tender or fluffy; it is straight down moist as a carrot cake should be, in my opinion.
For a person who is not big on frosting, I actually regret cutting down on it to make a very naked cake. (Now there’s a statement you don’t hear everyday!) I think a little more of that savory-sweet cream cheese can give the cake an even bigger boost. I guess I’m really partial to cream cheese frostings, or maybe I simply believe cream cheese frosting is a match made in heaven for carrot cake. Either way, I really love this combo.
I halved my frosting from the original recipe, thinking I would make a naked cake, but for the first time I feel that I should’ve made an entire batch of the frosting and went to town with it. At least if I decided to make it a naked cake anyway, I would’ve been able to frost between the layers more generously.
Another major charm of this cake is that it is not too sweet, and you can taste all the components present in the cake with every bite. If you’re not a fan of raisins, I feel like this cake isn’t overbearing in that aspect. To me, the occasional dots of raisin provide a touch of sweetness rather than annoyance. The cinnamon is just enough to cut through the light sweetness of the cake. The only thing that would’ve made it better was a tad more of that savory-sweet cream cheese between each layer.
An Amazing Carrot Cake
This easy carrot cake recipe yields a gloriously moist cake and is indeed one of the best I've ever made or tried!
Makes an 8- or 9-inch layer cake
For the cake
¾ cup almond meal, toasted (can be replaced with ground walnuts or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of one orange (optional)
¾ cup canola oil
3 cups shredded carrots
225 grams (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
For the frosting*
6 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons whole milk (or more as needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. (You can also use three cake pans if your oven will allow so you won't have to slice the cake into layers later on.) Set aside.
2. In a bowl, sift together almond meal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (If using ground walnuts, do not add it in yet.) Whisk to combine and set aside.
3. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, and eggs. (Add in orange zest, if using.) Slowly stream in the oil and mix until combined.
4. Working in two batches, fold in the dry ingredients. (If using ground walnuts, fold it in at this point.) Fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple until combined.
5. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before turning out the cakes from their pans.
Make the frosting
6. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Mix in the remaining frosting ingredients and beat until frosting becomes fluffy. You can adjust the milk or sugar according to your desired frosting consistency.
Assemble the cake
7. Once the cakes have cooled, slice each cake in half to get four layers. Divide the frosting into four portions, then use a spatula to spread onto each layer. Finally, frost the top of the cake. (I tend to frost the top of the cake with more frosting than the layers.) Refrigerate briefly to set the frosting before slicing and enjoying.
*This amount of frosting is enough for a naked cake, but if you want to fully frost your cake, double the recipe of the frosting.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted about brownies on my blog, and now we’re going to rectify that with these awesome Flourless Almond Brownies. These are super moist, super fudgy, classic-tasting chocolatey brownies that I could not stop myself from munching on. I mean, I’m not exactly big on eating sweets as much as I love making them, but a good chocolate dessert can really capture my attention. And these sure did!
It’s funny how the moment I noticed I haven’t made brownies in, what, half a year? I immediately went into the kitchen and made two different kinds of brownies. Both are making it to the blog because they’ve passed the taste test with flying colors, but I wanted to write about these Flourless Almond Brownies first.
These fit my idea of a perfect brownie in terms of appearance: A shiny delicate, crackly top providing just the barest hint of “crisp”, plus a body that is super moist and fudgy without being too soft that it falls apart. As for the flavor, I hate a brownie that’s too sweet. It should have a deep chocolate taste that doesn’t overwhelm but makes you crave instead. And these are that!
For every chocolate-based dessert, it is important to use good chocolate. For this recipe, I used Auro Chocolate 55% Dark Chocolate Coins. Auro Chocolate is an internationally-recognized local brand I highly love and recommend. I’ve been a fan of their chocolate bars for a while now, so I asked them where I could buy their baking chocolate and they immediately replied to say that it’s available online through Karton.ph. It was a well-spent 820 pesos for this 1 kilogram bag. Sadly, I’ve spent more on chocolate that does not even come close!
I won’t be switching to another brand of baking chocolate any time soon because I am so happy with Auro Chocolate. The quality of their chocolate is topnotch, but the way they treat customers is equally topnotch. (For the record, this is not a sponsored post.) Read on to see why I’ve decided to stick to Auro Chocolate, if you’re interested. If not, just scroll right down to the recipe notes!
Lately I’ve been trying to find a baking chocolate that I could refer to as “the one”. Since Philippine chocolates have noticeably stepped up their game lately, I saw the perfect opportunity to support local brands in my own small way. The only problem is, among the brands I’ve inquired with regarding their baking chocolate, I am either told they would get back to me (and they never do) or I am downright ignored after being seen-zoned.
Let me get this rant out of my chest, because this little chocolate search of mine has made me realize how well the people from Auro Chocolate treat potential customers compared to other local brands. First of all, I realize I am but a small consumer compared to whatever big establishment/baker they are partnered with, but I don’t think I deserve to be ignored even if I am asking just a small question.
Secondly, I understand that certain brands are now wary about small-time bloggers because there has been an influx of them asking for freebies in exchange for a “feature”, but it is insulting to assume that of every blogger. Since I started The Tummy Train, I have never approached a brand to ask for anything, and I am proud of that fact. (I don’t even introduce myself as a blogger!) The brands you see on this blog have either asked to collaborate (and I am honored by that of course), or are brands that I myself feel strongly about (but they don’t know who I am).
So what I’m really trying to say here is: Blogger or not, all I want is to be treated as a proper customer, you know? And that is why I wanted to give Auro Chocolate a shout-out, because not only are their products legitimately good, they are also good with people. You can tell how much a brand values their customers by the way they answer even the smallest of inquiries, and I received a very warm and accommodating response from them really quickly. This multi-awarded brand is taking an effort to respond, and I really appreciate that.
And honestly you guys, I really think these Flourless Almond Brownies taste even better thanks to the Auro Chocolate I used.
To start, you want to melt your butter and chocolate together. You can use the microwave but I favor the double boiler method because I like to keep watch and have a bit more control over the melting.
I have to say, Auro Chocolate melts so beautifully. It melts so evenly and smoothly, and it has a beautiful gloss to it. The batter also gets a boost from coffee powder, which in my opinion should be a normal addition to chocolate desserts because it brings out chocolate notes even more. Cocoa powder also helps of course.
This chocolate-butter mixture gets poured into the egg and sugar mixture prepared in a separated bowl, and then finally we add in the dry ingredient.
This recipe does not use all-purpose flour, but it does use almond flour or almond meal, which you can buy locally. You will need a little less than 75 grams, so if you want to purchase almond flour just for this recipe, you can try this shop on Shopee. The almond meal gives these brownies some added fudginess and a really nice chewy moist texture.
At this point, you want to avoid overworking the flour into the batter. Fold from the bottom of the bowl and in big strokes to make sure you incorporate the almond meal with as few movements as possible. Once almost all the almond meal has disappeared into the chocolate, stop! A few bits of almond meal peeking out here and there won’t hurt.
Finally, pour the batter into your prepared pan. Make sure you have an excess portion of parchment or foil on top to make it easier for you to lift out the baked brownie. You can now top this with whatever you wish: peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, crushed peanut butter cups, or mini m&m’s as the original recipe uses. I had some leftover sea salt caramel chips that I bought out of curiosity, and to be honest I don’t like these caramel chips on their own (tastes so weird!) but they taste great in these brownies, delivering a bit of salty flavor that complements chocolate really well. Because the toppings sink in, I pressed more chips on the freshly-out-of-the-oven brownies to make them pretty.
As a final note, make sure you do not overbake the brownies so they don’t turn hard. You want them fudgy, trust me! I store these at room temp the first few days, but these are great cold too. (With vanilla ice cream!)
I wonder if I’ll ever find myself in a situation where I’ve run out of flour but have some almond meal left over again. That was really why I made these, but the recipe exceeded my expectations. I would gladly make these brownies again. It’s not often I buy almond meal to begin with, but it must be fate wanting me to discover these delicious chocolatey treats lol. I really hope you guys give these Flourless Almond Brownies a go!
Flourless Almond Brownies
These flourless brownies have that delicious classic chocolate taste. Ground almonds create a moist and fudgy base you can top with whatever you like to create the perfect brownies!
Makes one 8x8-inch pan or 12 to 16 bars
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold is fine
142 grams (5 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, in coins or chunks
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso or black coffee powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup almond flour*
¼ cup caramel chips or butterscotch chips or chocolate chips or mini M&M's**
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, making sure to leave an overhang on opposite sides like handles. This will help you lift out the brownies from the pan easily once baked. Spray the parchment/foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl, place the butter and chocolate. Using the double boiler method, melt and stir the butter and chocolate together until smooth. (You can also microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring between each burst, until the mixture is melted and smooth. I tend to favor the double boiler method for more control.) Whisk in the cocoa powder and coffee powder until incorporated. Set the bowl aside to cool the mixture slightly.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add in the warm chocolate mixture and whisk quickly to combine.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond flour just until incorporated. (Avoid overmixing!) Pour the batter into the prepared baking ban, spreading evenly with your spatula to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle your topping of choice evenly over the surface of the batter. (It will sink in.)
5. Bake the brownies for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Do not over-bake, or the brownies will dry out! If you want, you can immediately dot more toppings on the still-warm surface to make the brownies prettier.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan. Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and slice before serving.
*Almond flour is also called almond meal. If you are using it for the first time to try this recipe specifically, you will want to buy about 72 grams of almond flour for a 3/4 cup equivalent. (Philippine readers, there are some sellers in Shopee!) You can sift before you measure to make sure there aren't any lumps. I actually did not and found there were some big bits of almond flour as I folded it into the chocolate mix. Just crush the lumps with your spatula but do not overmix the batter!
**Basically, you can use whatever you have or desire to top this with. Even lightly crushed peanut butter cups would work!