Recipes from Vargas Kitchen

Last Saturday, my son and I were able to attend the Cooking and Baking for the Holidays Class at the Maya Kitchen Culinary Center where Chef Patron Inez Vargas Javellana from the famous Vargas Kitchen did demos on delicious treats like Food for the Gods, Carrot Bars, Red Velvet Cake, Sylvannas and Rhum Cake. The Vargas kitchen is well known for its homemade, moist, buttery, utterly divine buttercake packed in that distinct blue and white box.

Here are the recipes that Chef Inez whipped up that day. While my son got busy in another room learning to make sushi for Mama. Will post about that soon.  Meanwhile, here is the link to the photos taken that day.

Carrot Bars

For The Filling:
2 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla
Food coloring red, yellow, green
Glad wrap sandwich bag

For The Bars:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup MAYA All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed, finely grated, peeled carrots

Preheat oven to 350°F/ 177°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Make filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and lemon juice; beat until combined. Cover; chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make bars: In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, and egg yolk. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until combined. Mix in oats, & carrots.

Pour batter onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake until edges are crisp, rotating baking sheets halfway through, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Turn half the cookies over, bottom side up; dollop each with about 1 teaspoon chilled cream-cheese filling. Top with remaining cookies, pressing gently to spread filling to edges. Serve immediately.


Meringue: 1 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped cashew nuts
½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream Mousseline: 1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup water
9 egg yolks
1 ½ cups butter
1 cup chopped cashew nuts
MAYA All Purpose Flour / Crushed wafer (for dredging)

Preheat oven to 325°F / 163°C. Generously grease and flour the backs of 6 (9-inch) square pans. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar gradually; continue beating until stiff. Fold in chopped nuts and vanilla. Divide the mixture equally into the greased and floured surfaces of the 6 pans. Spread meringue thinly. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until light brown. When meringue are done and while still warm immediately cut out wafers into oval or round shaped. Cool on wire rack. Prepare Filling.

Cream Mousseline: Boil sugar and water until thread-like in consistency. Beat egg yolks until lemon-colored. Add syrup; continue beating until smooth. Set Aside. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add in egg yolk mixture. Beat 1 minute longer until creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: Place one meringue wafer onto serving platter. Spread with some cream mousseline. Sprinkle with nuts. Top with another wafer. Repeat procedure for the remaining wafers and mousseline. Frost all over with cream mousseline and top with more chopped nuts. Freeze until ready to serve.

Food for the Gods

200 grams pitted dates
200 grams walnuts
1-1/4 cups butter, softened to room temperature
5 cups lightly (not loosely) packed dark brown sugar
3-3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon MAYA All-Purpose Flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
5 eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 177°C. Place the pitted dates on a chopping board and sprinkle with one tablespoonful of flour.3 Chop coarsely. Transfer the chopped dates to a bowl and set aside.

Chop the walnuts to roughly the same size as the chopped sultanas. Add to the dates in the bowl. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla essence. Add the flour in batches, mixing with a wooden spoon. The batter will be very heavy. Finally, stir in the dates and walnuts. Cover the bottom and sides of a 12-1/2 x 17-1/2 x 1 jelly roll pan with non-stick baking paper. Allowing overhangs on the long sides is useful so that you slide off the baked food for the gods on a cooling rack in one piece.

Pour the batter into the pan scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure you get all of the batter into the pan. Level off with a spatula. Bake in a preheated 350oF oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Watch the last few minutes closely so that just as soon as it’s sufficiently baked, you can turn off the oven at once and take out the pan.

Then, cool in the pan for 10 minutes to firm it up a bit. Holding one end of the baking paper overhang with one hand and holding the pan at a 45o angle with the other, pull out the baked food for the gods and slide onto a cooling rack. Cool for another 15 minutes or so. While still a bit warm, cut into 1-1/2 or 2-inch squares. Cool completely. Place on festive colored paper cups or wrap in colored Japanese paper.

Red Velvet Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups MAYA Cake Flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 one-ounce bottles liquid red food coloring
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake

. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, and butter again. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside.

. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, food coloring, and water; beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well combined. Add reserved dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the buttermilk; beat on low speed until well combined.

. In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Be sure not to overbeat. Divide batter between prepared pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread about 1/3 of the frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, and spread with the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until ready to serve.

Rhum Cake

1/2 cup pecans, halved
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons + 1/2 cup canola oil, separated
1 3/4 cup MAYA All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup MAYA Cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla pudding
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
3/4 cup Myer’s dark rum
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the rum syrup:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark rum
Special Equipment: One 10-15 cup Bunt pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bunt pan, and drop halved pecans into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In the base of a mixer, cream the 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and the 1/2 cup butter. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt combining until evenly distributed. (Mixture will look like fine crumbs.) Mix in the pudding mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining vegetable oil. Add to the dry mixture and mix well until combined. The batter will be smooth, thin, and pour easily.

Pour into the prepared bunt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the cake comes up clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
While the cake cools, prepare the rum syrup: In a large saucepan with high sides, combine the butter, water, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the butter completely melts and the sugar dissolves. Let reduce slightly, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum (it will bubble).

Wash and dry the bunt pan, then place over the cool cake and invert the cake back into the pan. Pour the hot rum syrup all over the cake and let soak for 8 hours (overnight). In morning, invert the cake back onto a serving platter. Keeps covered for 1 week at room temperature.

Vanilla Pudding

Makes about 5 batches of pudding; 4-5 servings per batch
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 whole vanilla beans
1 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry milk, cornstarch, white sugar, and salt. Use a knife to slice down the center of the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the dry ingredients and whisk well until evenly distributed (you may need to use the back of a spoon or spatula to break up the little clumps of seeds). Cut the scraped-out vanilla beans in 2-3 pieces each, and drop into an air-tight jar or container (such as a mason jar). Pour the mixture in, seal, and shake a couple times to distribute the vanilla bean pieces. Store in a cool dry place.

To make the pudding, combine 1/2 cup of the mix with 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil (keep an eye on it because this happens quickly!), then reduce heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the whisk or spoon. (About 3-5 minutes). Pour in a container and let set for at least 5 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or cold.

Maya Kitchen Culinary Center
8/F Liberty Building, 835
A. Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City
Contact Nos. 892-1185 or 892-5011 local 108

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