To the two greatest ladies of my life:
My dearest Mama, here you're ... You’ve turned 54! Hard to believe but it’s true! I grabbed the calculator, re-entered and recomputed the figures, rubbed my eyes again and again … I was still getting “54!” Time has been cold and cruel – it is where the wrinkles on your face and hands are conceived. But, my love and gratitude for you withstand the test of time.
My mom is VERY camera-shy. This is the best I could get ... *Sigh*
I’d been a rebellious teen; I’ve been an unruly daughter. I’ve hurt you in innumerable ways; I’ve been making you worried day in and day out. Nonetheless, you’ve been showering me with unconditional love and motherly advices.
You’ve never taught me how to cook or bake. You never let me enter the kitchen before I left you for the States. But, I want to thank you (and Papa) for granting my wish of studying abroad. That very nod of yours had transformed me in ways unimagined. I’m not the whiny little girl I once knew. Not the Pei-Lin who ran away at the thought of holding knives and standing by the stove. Not anymore. Albeit our constant, inevitable disagreement and argument – be it outside of or in the kitchen, I still want to thank you for giving me the chance to discipline myself; to keep growing; and to learn how to independent.
My mom only bakes chiffon cakes, which is one of her quirky sides that my family finds adorable. She doesn't have too sweet of a tooth anyway, I guess it's that Chinese blood in her. Pictured here is her apricot chiffon cake, a new recipe she just tested two days ago. Not bad, not bad! (Ahem! Sorry for the horrible shot ... I took it after work.)
The strength and courage in you are the force that pushes me further, every day. The stroke that struck and took the half of you away 6 years ago has made you even stronger. You continue to shine with your beautiful laughs and that positivity of yours. You’ve inspired me with your never-say-die attitude.
Mama, the Sixth of May has been and will always remain a special day for me and the rest of us in our household. A Happy Birthday to you once again! I love you, forever and always!
My dearest Bonnie, a Happy Belated Birthday to you! You just turned 60 on April 30! I’ve always thought of you as my American mom, and will always do. Thank you for taking me as one of your daughters!
Meeting you for the first time on Jan 16, 2007, while it was still freezing in northern Minnesota, I’d never thought that your presence would bring a positive change in me, for good. Without you and your family, my 2 years and 8 months of life away from home would have been harsh and torturing. I admire your benevolence and generosity. I was selfish and stony-hearted. But, you taught me how to love and share. You showed me the joy of loving and sharing with others. I was and am convinced.
Who’d have thought the summer "boot camp" on your farm from 3 years ago had transformed me inside-out! I raided your berry patches. I seized hostage of your kitchen. But, you didn’t stop me. You’d set me free; you’d set my creativity flowing; you’d ignited in me the passion for cooking and baking. You brought me into the world of cooking and baking. You showed me the joy of home cooking and baking. And, I've never looked back.
One of Bonnie's signature dishes: pumpkin bars with maple-flavored frosting! These were one of the many things I was first introduced to in the U.S. Oh, I do miss these yummy treats dearly! Might as well just whip up these bars someday ...
Three years from then, Pei-Lin can now chop up onions with a knife being held sturdily in her hand. She also turns to butter, flour and sugar when she’s frustrated. I’m proud to say that I’m a once-rusticated wild city girl who now misses life as a country girl. Thanks for letting me discover the once-hidden side of me!
I certainly do hope this message doesn’t come too late for you. Though we’re now miles apart, I’d still want to wish you a Happy Belated Birthday, once again! I love you, too, forever and always. Hope we get to meet again someday!
These two extraordinary women created and transformed me to redefine who I’m today – in two opposite ways. Without them, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. To celebrate this wonderful gift called motherliness, here’s to dedicate this cake to my beloved moms and all you mommies out there this Mother’s Day! Oh, yes! How can I not say "Happy Mothers' Day!"
Bite by slow bite, this white chocolate-orange cheesecake gently renders you in a state of dreaminess. It’s got that creamy and velvety mouthfeel as the cake slowly breaks down in your oral cavity. The citrusy orange zest balances the sweet white chocolate with a nice little tang – one that you can barely tell if you pay close enough attention to your senses, actually. What’s also worth trying is its crust – that fruity and nutty crust. Definitely not your ordinary cheesecake crust.
I’ve got to admit that the cake is rich. It’s intensely flavorful. Devouring a
White Chocolate-Orange Cheesecake 白巧克力柳橙乳酪蛋糕
(For one 23-centimeter round springform pan)
Adapted from "The Cheese Cake Book," by Yanase Kumiko, Yasuyo Shida and Junko Fukuda 摘自《我愛乳酪蛋糕》 柳瀨久美子。信太康代。福田涥子 / 著
* The original recipe is meant for two 12 cm-in-diameter round springform pans. Thus, the quantity for each ingredient has been adjusted for my 23-cm round springform pan, which are as shown below. In other words, I multiplied everything -- except the baking time -- by 1.2. Partly, I also made the changes to get a taller cheesecake. Well, sometimes you can't just stick to a recipe through and through. So, should you experience similar situation like mine, feel free to adapt the recipe to suit your need. *
For the crust:
120 g digestive biscuits/graham crackers -- use the plain/original ones
48 g butter -- either the salted or unsalted one will do
33 g candied orange peel -- chopped up into real tiny bits
* I subbed dried apricots for this. *
- Completely melt the 40 g butter in a double boiler, over low heat, gradually. Alternatively, you can do so in your microwave on LOW. But, be careful of overheating the butter with your microwave!
Once melted, remove from heat and set the butter aside to cool slightly before using. (Well, unless you don't mind burning your hands.)
- Now, grease the cake pan and line the side with parchment. Then, place the prepared cake pan in a relatively larger baking pan and set aside for use later. The baking pan needs not be relatively deeper though because the cheesecake won't be baked in a bain-marie or in an improvised bain-marie.
* This little step is to ensure that in the event of the batter seeping out of the cake pan, you won't end up with burned, stubborn mess to deal with later on. You like scrubbing your oven out, do you? *
- Process the digestive biscuits/graham crackers in your food processor till they're pulverized.
* Alternatively, you can try what I sometimes would do when insanity strikes me. I'd throw all the cookies into a Ziploc bag, seal the bag (not too tightly of course) and start crushing them with my hands and with help from my rolling pin. What a way to vent my anger! Ha! *
- To make the crust, combine the slightly cooled melted butter, pulverized crackers and chopped candied orange peel together really well. Then, firmly press the mixture onto the base of the cake pan -- making sure that the base of the cake pan gets covered completely and that the layer is even
- Refrigerate the whole deal (uncovered) till you're ready to bake the cheesecake
For the cheese batter:
120 g good-quality white chocolate
300 g regular cream cheese -- softened
36 g butter -- either the salted or unsalted one will do
144 g caster sugar
36 g regular sour cream
2-1/2 Tbsp heavy cream
2-1/2 large eggs -- at room temperature and slightly beaten
2-1/2 Tbsp cake flour -- sifted
2-1/2 tsp cherry brandy
* I used rum instead. *
Finely grated zest of 1-1/2 orange
* I was a bit generous with the tang here. *
Enough powdered sugar, for garnish -- optional
- Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over low heat till completely melted; remove from heat and set it aside to cool till it feels like our body's temperature before using
* Of course, don't let the melted chocolate cool away far too long ... because it gets hardened up more and more as it cools ... So, be sure to keep it warm enough to stay melted -- not too hot though. (Duh!) *
- Whisk (A) together till thoroughly combined and look smooth. Now, mix in (B) to blend well
- Stir the melted white chocolate into the main batter to incorporate
- Gradually mix the slightly beaten eggs, in 3~4 portions, into the main batter. Next, sift the cake flour over the batter and whisk just to incorporate
- Stir (C) into the batter to get a homogeneous mixture
To bake the cheesecakes:
- Pour the batter into the cake pan -- making sure that the surface of the batter gets smoothed out
- Bake at 170°C~180°C for 30~35 minutes or till the cake is just cooked. Towards the end of the baking process, say 5~10 minutes before the time's up, check for the doneness of the cake by poking a toothpick into the center of the cake. DON'T OVERBAKE IT! (You don't want dry cheesecake, do you?)
Upon removing the cake from the oven, you don't have to worry as the residual heat (in the cake itself and from the pans) will cook the cheesecake a little bit more while the cake cools away.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set it on a cooling rack to cool completely -- let the cake cool away in the pan, there isn't a need to unmold it.
- Once the cake has cooled off completely, refrigerate for 2~3 hours before serving.
When it's time to serve, unmold the cheesecake from the springform pan and sift some powdered sugar over the cake. Now, slice the cake up and enjoy the fruit of your labor! (Boy, what a long wait!)
* For some reasons, I found my cheesecake to be on the harder side when it's REALLY cold. So, I let my slices of the cake soften up at room temperature for 40 minutes to 1 hour before diving into the cake. But, this could just be a quirky side of me. It really depends on personal preferences. *