Azuki Kinako Shortbread Cookies

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Always having been quite the avid baker, ever since arriving in Japan I have been experimenting with new Japanese flavours and ingredients I either was unable to acquire back home or had never even heard of!

Not just baking but cooking also, over the past 6 months my skills in the kitchen have gone from cooking the most basic of curries to basically anything that might take my fancy if I have the means to google a recipe.

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Here is the recipe to whip up a batch of Azuki 小豆 Kinako 黄粉 Shortbread Cookies that I baked.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup kinako (roasted soybean flour)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250 grams unsalted butter
250 grams azuki (sweet red beans)

Method
1. Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes until fluffy with an electric mixer.
2. Fold flour, kinako, and salt into butter mixture, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. You don’t want to work the dough too much once the flour is added so use a wooden spoon.
3. Fold in azuki paste in a similar fashion.
3. Scoop mixture into a ziplock bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, using a rolling pin roll the dough into a half a cm thick rectangle. Once your done seal the bag, pressing out all the air and freeze for 30 minutes. You may keep the dough in this stage up to two days.
4. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open, discard the bag and using a sharp knife, cut the dough into small rectangles or use a cookie cutter like I did (mine were hearts). Transfer the cookies to a baking sheets and carefully prick each one four times with a fork.
6. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. This recipe makes about 20 cookies.

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Note that if you live outside if Japan/Korea/China kinako and azuki may be hard to come by, but even these can be made from scratch.

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Here’s the finished product, half I dusted with additional kinako flour and the the others served with sweetened Kabocha 南瓜 (Pumpkin) paste.

Midnight Cooking Misshaps

Sliced my palm up something fierce last night whilst embarking on magical midnight cooking adventures, he ain’t awful thrilled bout it.

That said based upon just how delicious the tane sautéed konyaaku balls i had for lunch were……….. today it was totally worth it!!

Anyhow thank god his mouth ain’t open and gushin no more, got the school nurse to patch him up this morning >_<

Attempting To Bake A Cheesecake In Japan

Shortly after arriving in Japan almost 3 months ago I acquired a convection oven as I am quite the baking enthusiast. Unfortunately by western standard the Japanese just really don’t seem to know what an oven is which is why the ‘oven’ I purchased is nothing more than a glorified microwave.

Despite the plethora of settings and modes it comes equip with (33 in total, everything from steaming fish to warming sake) the only ones I really use are the oven, microwave and grill. This however is mostly due to the fact all the buttons are in Japanese and I’m fairly poor at kanji.

Anyhow this evening once overcoming the hurdles associated with purchasing all the necessary ingredients (mostly financial), I decided to try my hand at baking a cheesecake as I had been given some home made cookie crumbs by a departing JET. Now despite undertaking a few ambitious baking exploits in the past never had I deluged into the realm of cheesecakes so this was quite the experiment on my part.

Now one thing you will notice about the photos is the pan I used is meccha tiny, this is largely a reflection on the size of Japanese ovens, however the difficulty it presented to me was that all the recipes I came across upon searching were for much larger batches. Alas I took it upon myself to simply ‘wing it’ and see where my baking adventures would take me. The following is the recipe I ended up going with.

Crust:

  • 200g cookie crumbs
  • 100g butter, melted

Cake:

  • 200g cream cheese
  • 150ml fresh cream
  • 100g vanilla infused sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 table spoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 Tablespoons of gelatin

Topping:

  • 100ml cream, whipped

Alas the following is the final product, lets just say it was very rich and tasty. As testament to this last Thursday I had 5 friends over to ‘taste test’ my baking exploits and they returned with positive feedback, the consensus being that it tasted like the milky candies.

All in all for a first try I’m ruling this quite the success, alas until next time ^_____^