This blog is sponsored by the Hilton Beijing Capital Airport. Call 6450 4827 to book a Family Staycation.
Jack Zeng dips his whisk into the bowl of chocolate batter and stirs vigorously, until it is thick and creamy. “I’ll use this to make some small, cute cupcakes,” the Hilton Beijing Capital Airport’s pastry chef says as he prepares the recipe in the hotel’s brunch dining hall.
While most of Zeng’s customers prefer to purchase sweets prepared by a professional like him, the chef says there has been a growing interest in home baking in Beijing. “Making a cake is a very direct way to show someone how you feel, to show that you care for them,” he explains while pouring the batter into the pan.“The DIY culture is popular now [in China], so more people want to learn how to make their own treats.”
But Zeng says that aspiring chefs often struggle with their first recipes as they quickly realize just how challenging baking can be. So he suggests starting with something simple like this “cute cupcakes” recipe.
“Making a cake [from scratch]isn’t that easy, but this recipe is good for your first time,”he says before turning away from the batter—which contains a simple mixture of eggs, flour, butter, sugar and dark chocolate — and gesturing at the Hilton brunch buffet’s desert counterthat is constantly brimming with sprinkles, chocolate chips, nuts and other tasty treats. “I like this recipe because it’s easy to add whatever extra sweets you want. All you have to do is drop them in,” he says with a smile.
Chef Zeng built his career by baking much far more complex sweets like tiramisu and macaroons. Before his current gig at the Hilton, he worked at a number of Beijing’s five-star hotels, including the Shangri-La and the Sheraton, and now enjoys preparing deserts for guests and sharing recipe ideas with them when he can.
“My dream was always to make deserts, and I followed that dream with all my passion,”he says. “What I love is putting my own ideas into recipes and making people happy with my food.”
INGREDIENTS FOR CHEF ZENG’S BITE-SIZED “CUTE CUPCAKES” (SERVES 5)
700g of dark chocolate
10 egg whites
10 egg yolks
300g of cake flour
1. Melt the chocolate in warm water at about 50 degrees Celsius until it turns soft. Pour into a mixing bowl.
2. Add egg yolks and then add the egg whites.
3. Stir with a whisk until the eggs are blended into the chocolate.
4. Pour in the sugar then whisk it into the mix.
5. Pour in the flour and whisk until the batter is thick and creamy.
6. Pour the batter into a 3.5cm cupcake pan.
7. Drop a pinch of chocolate chips, sprinkles, nuts, or whatever other additives you would like to include in each section of the pan (if no additives are included, the cupcakes still work well as simpler chocolate muffins).
8. Preheat the oven and bake at 190°C for ten minutes (if the oven is fan operated, then there is no need to preheat the oven).
9. Let cool for around ten minutes, then serve and enjoy.
Need a break but don’t want to travel far from home? The Hilton Beijing Capital Airport offers Family Staycation packages where families can enjoy the hotel’s luxurious rooms, fitness center and pool, play area, restaurants, weekend brunches and fun group events. Call 6450 4827 (weekdays) and 156 1197 9131 (weekends) for reservations and more information.
Photos by Uni You