I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Anyone who does not like brownies please raise your hand. Perhaps you don't like chocolate, which is a fair reason for not liking brownies. But if you don't like brownies because it does not taste good or the brownies you had before were too sweet, then please allow this recipe to change your mind. 

David Lebovitz (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/) is my first-stop go to person for dessert recipe. He wrote a wonderful book called "The sweet life of Paris". If you were in Paris, or going to Paris, or dreaming about going to Paris, please read this book. 

I found David's recipe through another random website called http://leitesculinaria.com/36645/recipes-brownies.html  

I am going to copy the recipe verbatim from that website (reference and acknowledgement noted). I will simply highlight my own thoughts in RED.

Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies Recipe

Ingredients (serves about 12 people)

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped. 

  •                                  No, Lindt did not sponsor my website and I do not endorse Lindt. 

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 2. Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan, or with a single large sheet of extra wide foil or parchment paper. Lightly butter the foil or parchment. [Editor's Note: The original recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan, although we've had success with an 8-inch pan.}
  • 3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth.
  • (I used a water bath technique which I talked about before, by warming the butter and chocolate with steam)

  •                           I always like the lava appearance of melted chocolate

  • 4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, 1 at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute—time yourself—until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. [Editor's Note: There are two crucial elements in the making of these brownies. One is throwing yourself into the making of them by stirring them "energetically," as the recipe stipulates. The second, also spelled out in the recipe, is making certain you stir the batter thusly for a full minute. It may appear to separate a few seconds into stirring, and it may appear grainy midway through, but when you stir with vigor for a full 60 seconds--and we do mean a full 60 seconds, along the lines of "One Mississippi, two Mississippi..."--you'll end up with a batter that's rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be. And therein lies the difference between dry, crumbly brownies and what many brownie mavens around the world feel are, indeed, the world's best brownies.] Stir in the chopped nuts.
  • (To summarize: After adding the flour, stir the mixture until your hand falls off. Switch hand and swirl until that hand falls off too. Good arm exercise)

  • 5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
  • (I baked mine at exactly 350F for exactly 30 minutes. Perfect)
  • 6. Let the brownie cool completely in the pan—this is the difficult part—before lifting the foil or parchment and the block of brownie out of the pan. Cut the brownie into squares. (The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

  • If you look carefully, you will see four layers. Top is the crispy crust, the middle "fudgy" layer is sandwiched by the "cakey" layer. I dare say that this brownie is perfect although I would prefer it 10% less sweet but my tasters find the sweetness just fine. I am at lost of words to describe my joy when I take a bite into this brownie. It is absolutely delicious (for lack of better words).

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012


    Move aside nutella; get behind me, peanut butter; make way, strawberry jam and your entourage of fruit jams. Butter, stick around (pun intended). Here comes the new kid on the blog --- Kaya.

    What's a Kaya? According to Wikipedia, there are more than 20 definitions. The most interesting one being "Marijuana" in Jamaican. Surely I am not talking about that kind of Kaya.

    I am talking about the other Kaya that is translated to "RICH" and, boy, this a rich food item that everyone from poor to rich enjoys. It is a regionally confined food item that hasn't been spread around the world. The reason is simple - "Freshly Made". You can buy them at a grocery store in Chinatown but they are always a little off or too sweet.

    So what's Kaya? It is a Jam that you put on a toast.

    There are only three ingredients. Count with me. 1, 2......3.

    3 ingredients come together to form what I called "Golden Nectar" (I should trademark this).

    What are these ingredients?

    Eggs, Coconut Cream/Milk, and Sugar.

    (make one cup of kaya, recipe courtesy of Pat, http://chewsome.wordpress.com/)

    5 whole eggs
    1/2 cup of sugar
    1 can of coconut cream

    1. Warm up the coconut milk while it is still in its can. Set aside.
    2. Beat the eggs until very smooth.
    3. Add the sugar and continue beating. Make sure there is no sugar lumps.

    Should've beat the egg until smooth before adding the sugar. Don't be scared by the amount of  sugar

    4. Boil a pot of water. When the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.
    5. Set up a steaming mechanism as showed in the photograph. You can be creative with your own methods.
    (The key in making a good kaya is to avoid cooking the egg in direct heat. Instead, you want to use the steam as heat source. The top layer of the water should be at least 2 inches bellow the top pan.)

    6. Transfer the egg and sugar mixture to the pan and keep stirring gently.
    7. When the sugar has melted, add the coconut cream a few tablespoons at a time.
    (Add enough coconut cream until it reaches your desired flavor. I added about 3/4 of a can of the coconut cream).

    8. Don't forget to keep stirring the whole time.
    9. Keep cooking until the volume of the mixture has reduced significantly and the kaya begins to stick to the spoon.

    10. Store immediately in the refrigerator.
    11. In fact, go toast a piece of bread and spread it with warm kaya now!


    If you haven't had Kaya before, please bug me until you have tried this "Golden Nectar". I was lucky enough to have multiple food tasters and one recurring feedback that I hear was that "it taste like butter".  I very really thought of it that way but I do see the odd resemblance in taste. What I really like about homemade kaya is that I can control the sweetness. I really don't like food that is over-sweetened and making my own kaya makes sure it does not happen.