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Valentine’s Day may have come and gone but that’s no reason to give in to indolence and shut the door on all notions of romanticism. Your nearest and dearest deserve to be wooed at every opportunity, and frankly, nothing says, ‘I love you’ quite as much as something sweet, which by very design, promises to entice and tantalise. Here, local bakers share hedonistically decadent recipes guaranteed to worm their way into your partner’s heart and gain you brownie points to boot.
Satira Diana Borhanuddin & Farah Melissa Aniah, Kek & Co
Four years ago, gifted cake designers Satira and Farah decided to pool their considerable talents to form Kek & Co, specialising in bespoke custom cakes.
Fast forward to today, and Kek & Co is insanely popular, with over 112,000 Instagram followers and a reputation for crafting breathtakingly beautiful, colourful, quirky cakes. The two were even responsible for some viral cakes, like their famed unicorn cake, which has since been copied to death.
In the last year or so, the girls have branched out into making gift boxes filled with all sorts of cookies.
“We’re actually testing the market because we want to open a retail store this year, so we want to see if these products connect with our followers and also to engrain this idea that ‘Hey, we have all these products!’” says Satira.
Because the brand is so closely associated with kooky designs and creations, the girls are equally creative when it comes to devising desserts that people can make for their sweethearts. Like their insanely cute personalised butter cookies, piped with cute messages like ‘Laundry folded’ and ‘You’re hotter than Aquaman’.
“So with our cookies, we decided to decorate them with quirky quotes, that maybe a husband and wife would say to each other. So couples or families can actually write random messages to their loved ones on the cookies,” says Satira.
Perhaps the most important question for most home bakers is: how easy is this to recreate at home? “Oh, the cookies are very, very easy to make, you don’t even need a mixer for this. Plus, they’re cute, and can be shared,” says Farah.
Makes 20 cookies
228g unsalted butter (room temperature)
225g granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
440g all-purpose flour
250g store-bought fondant
royal icing, to pipe
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract and then slowly add in flour. Mix well until fully incorporated. Chill dough in fridge for 1 hour.
Roll dough into 6mm thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut into heart shapes (or other shapes, as desired).
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Spread fondant over each cookie and pipe words or patterns as desired with royal icing.
Jaslyn Rangson, Jaslyn Cakes
Jaslyn Cakes became a popular feature in Bangsar when sweet, skilled baker Jaslyn Rangson opened her eponymous cafe a few years ago in a tiny little space that creates all manner of delicious sweet treats, from jammy biscuits and salted Valrhona brownies to chocolate peanut butter cakes.
In 2017, she opened Dew (which is right next door to Jaslyn Cakes), turning out gorgeous, bedecked plated desserts. Although she continues to work hard to create beautiful desserts, Jaslyn also believes in keeping things simple. Her idea of a swoon-worthy dessert for a loved one? A simple chocolate chip cookie.
“There’s nothing that says ‘I care about you’ more than ‘I made you cookies’. So it’s something that is not really flashy or over-the-top, but it really shows that you care about someone. It makes someone happy, it’s comforting and it’s something that everyone likes,” says Jaslyn.
And Jaslyn’s chocolate chip cookie is something you’re going to want to make – trust me. Her cookies are corpulent discs with crunchy outer layers and soft, chewy insides bursting with chunks of ooey, gooey melted chocolate.
And according to Jaslyn, these cookies are extremely simple to pull off too. “Oh, it’s really easy. Although you should avoid overbaking it – it’s meant to be a bit chewy, so if you bake it for too long, it becomes hard all the way through. Also, I would suggest using really good chocolate, because it makes a big difference,” she says.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes 15 to 20 cookies
180g plain flour
150g whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fine salt
3/4 tsp Maldon sea salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g brown sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
300g Valrhona Guanaja chocolate, chopped into large chunks, or other high quality dark chocolate
Maldon salt to sprinkle
Combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, fine salt and Maldon salt in a bowl.
In the bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, treacle and vanilla bean with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the butter has lightened in colour.
Add the eggs into the butter mixture one by one, mixing well between each egg.
Turn the mixer off and add all the dry ingredients, mixing together on slow speed until the dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated.
Add the chopped chocolate and mix on low speed until evenly distributed in the dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 185°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-tablespoon sized rounds and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper. Sprinkle more Maldon salt on top. Space the dough 5cm apart as they will spread once baked.
Place in the oven and bake for 9 to 10 minutes until it has puffed up slightly and is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays for a further 5 minutes before removing.
Farah Syazwani Hasran, Souka Bakeshop
The talented Farah fell in love with baking as a child, imbibing the smells, sights and sounds of cakes rising and cookies being moulded through her mother, a talented home baker.
“I learnt how to bake through my mum, who did it as a hobby. She started baking when I was small, and sometimes she would sell her baked goods to friends and neighbours,” she says.
In 2015, Farah set up a cute little cafe called Souka Bakeshop in SS15, Subang. The eatery specialises in classic cakes, like red velvet (a best-seller) as well as chocolate cakes, carrot cakes and other confections. All Farah’s creations are rich and hedonistic, the sort of desserts you’d be happy to stuff your face with on a daily basis, if you could.
For those looking to make a sweet, comforting treat for their loved ones, Farah has just the thing: a white chocolate raspberry mud cake.
“Typically people would go for chocolate when it comes to gifting, but I think white chocolate is nice because some people might not like dark chocolate. And the raspberries give it a bit of fruitiness, and the colour is nice – it pops. So when you slice it up, you can see bits of raspberries in the cake,” she says.
The cake is delightful – soft and dense, like a mudcake should be, with an underlying sweetness from the white chocolate. These rich flavours are countenanced by the addition of the raspberries, which offer fruity, tart notes.
“It’s a more sophisticated recipe, so I guess it would definitely wow a partner,” says Farah.
WHITE CHOCOLATE MUDCAKE WITH RASPBERRIES
Makes one whole cake
For the mudcake
125g unsalted butter
125g good quality white chocolate
3/4 cups castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
100ml water, room temperature
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 grade A egg
100g fresh raspberries
For the icing
125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp raspberry jam
few drops of pink colouring
100g white chocolate
1 tsp vegetable oil
heart shaped sprinkles
white, gold & pink pearls
Pre-heat oven to 150ºC. Line two 6 inch-pans with parchment paper and butter the bottom and sides of the pan.
Melt butter, chocolate, sugar, vanilla and water until all melted and combined. Let mixture cool slightly.
In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add sour cream and egg. Whisk quickly until all combined.
Pour cake batter evenly into the pans. Drop 15 fresh raspberries into each pan and keep the rest for decoration. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely and unmould cakes from pans.
Meanwhile, beat butter and icing sugar on high speed until fluffy and creamy. Add vanilla and raspberry jam, and beat until combined. Put one or two drops of pink colouring to tint the buttercream and beat again. Put aside.
Melt white chocolate and oil in microwave for 1 minute. Set aside 3 tablespoons of melted chocolate.
Use a spoon or a piping bag to spread the rest of the melted chocolate into heart shapes on a parchment paper. Put sprinkles and pearls over the chocolate hearts and let it harden in the chiller.
Spread buttercream one one cake and then place the other cake on top. Use the remainder of the buttercream to spread evenly over both cakes, covering entirely. Garnish with raspberries and arrange chocolate hearts in between the raspberries. Sprinkle more pearls and drizzle melted chocolate on top of the cake.
Nigel Skelchy and Allan Yap, Just Heavenly
With a name like Just Heavenly, it’s hard to get away with anything less than decadent, hedonistically indulgent desserts, which is why you’ll find cakes that fit this bill to a tee like the brand’s famed death by chocolate cake, blueberry cheese cake and red velvet cake.
Although Just Heavenly has been around for years now, they continue to cater to modern demands. In fact, Skelchy and Yap are now working to create more reduced-sugar, gluten-free and even keto desserts, in line with the trend for healthier desserts.
“We have always reduced sugar in our cakes but with our gluten-free cakes, we have been able to reduce sugar and oil by 10% to 20%. So we are moving towards healthier options, because people are looking for that,” says Skelchy.
But when it comes to making desserts for loved ones, Skelchy and Yap say they will pull out all the stops, crafting plated desserts like their raspberry rose lychee heart.
“Originally, it was just rose lychee, but then I was thinking about it and with rose and lychee, you don’t have the acidity – both are floral and sweet, so there’s no contrast. So I added the raspberry for a bit of tartness,” says Skelchy.
The two agree that pulling off the dessert is actually fairly simple; home bakers just need a little patience.
“Home bakers can do it, but they’ll need patience because it can take one to two days to make because of the waiting time in between. But it’s not difficult, because if I can do it, anyone can. Of course if you want to do it in the heart-shaped moulds, you need to buy the moulds, but you don’t need to. You can do it in square blocks as well,” says Skelchy.
RASPBERRY ROSE LYCHEE HEART
For the sponge base
120g ground almonds
125g icing sugar
150g whole eggs
25g butter, melted
110g egg whites
30g plain flour, sieved
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the raspberry and lychee mousse
3 egg yolks
200g raspberry puree (you may use frozen raspberries)
80g sugar for raspberry puree
a drop of bright red food colouring
200g lychee puree
80g sugar for lychee puree
50g chopped lychee
400ml dairy whipping cream, cold
1 tsp rose essence
To make the cake
Butter and dust flour into a square tin or heart-shaped invidual mould.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Whisk almond flour, icing sugar and eggs for 3 full minutes. Add melted butter and whisk.
In a new bowl, whisk egg whites until you get soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually and whisk until you get medium peaks.
Add sieved plain flour and egg white mixture to the almond flour. Finally, add in the vanilla. Stir gently until combined and pour into baking mould. This is a thin sponge base, so thickness of batter in the tin should not exceed 1.5cm. Bake in the oven for nearly 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted through comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of hours. Unmould.
To make the custard
Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling over ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of room temperature water and leave for 10 minutes at least.
Warm the milk till it steams. Beat the egg yolks with sugar. Put them in a saucepan. Add warm milk gradually to the egg yolks off the heat.
Using a wooden spoon, cook over low heat, stirring until thickened (82°C), about 5 to 8 minutes. Coat the back of the spoon with the custard mixture. If it holds, it is ready. Add the gelatin and rose essence to the hot custard and pour half of the custard into another saucepan.
Blend raspberries with sugar and add to one of the custard saucepans along with red food colouring. Stir to combine.
Blend lychee with sugar and put this into second saucepan filled with custard. Allow both to cool.
Whisk cream until you get soft peaks. Add half of the whipped cream to raspberry custard mixture and stir well. Then add remaining whipped cream to lychee custard mixture and stir.
Line the inside of the mould with plastic liner. It should come up to about 4cm above the top of the mould. Place the thin sponge inside the mould and gently pour lychee mousse followed by the raspberry rose mousse. It needs to float on top. Put in the fridge to set.
“In The Mood For Love” Contest
StarLifestyle and Star2.com are bringing you love stories every day, starting from Valentine’s Day to Chap Goh Meh (the other Valentine’s Day) on Feb 19. The 15th day of the first Lunar month is all about finding love, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate love all week!
Read our stories, then go to our social media pages on Facebook (facebook.com/starlifestyle) and Instagram (instagram.com/starlifestylemy), and join our special celebration of love, “In The Mood For Love”, by winning a pair of Longines Hydroconquest watches worth RM10,000 for you and your loved one.
How To Win At Love!
1. Collect a question daily from Feb 14-19 based on the love stories. You must answer all six (6) questions.
2. Complete this slogan: Love is ….. (in not more than 50 words).
3. Email all six answers and slogan to email@example.com by Feb 20. Include your full name, MyKad number and contact number, and don’t forget to add “In The Mood For Love Contest” in the subject field.
Terms & Conditions
1. The contest is open to all residents in Malaysia except for employees of the Star Media Group Berhad and members of their immediate families.
2. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash.
3. By participating in this contest, participants are deemed to have agreed to all rules and regulations of this contest. The Star reserves the right to alter/change/add/cancel any terms & conditions of contest without prior notice.
4. Judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entertained.