Category Archives: desserts

Classic Chocolate Mousse

Adapted from Bon Appetit (where their picture is SPECTACULAR and just wants to make me dive right into the photo with my mouth open), this is not for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious eater. Nor is it for someone that wants a “quick chocolate mousse” – it takes several processes to get this divine dessert, just right: decadently chocolately and rich at the same time as being lighter than air. I reduced the coffee because I want the coffee to boost the chocolate flavour, and I found that at 1/4 cup, it almost overpowered the chocolate flavour. I also doubled the salt from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 because I think salt makes desserts and other sweets taste better.

Ingredients makes six small teacups/ramekins

  1. 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (you can use cooking or whipping cream)
  2. 4 large egg yolks
  3. 1/8 cup espresso or strong coffee, at room temperature
  4. 3 tbls sugar, divided into 2tbls and 1 tbls
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
  7. 2 large egg whites
  8. 1/4 cup whipping cream to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill
  2. Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl
  3. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume (about 1 minute)
  4. Remove bowl from pan
  5. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth
  6. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature
  7. Using an electric beater with clean, dry beaters, beat egg white in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy
  8. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 tbsp sugar
  9. Increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form
  10. Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions
  11. Fold whipped cream into mixture just to blend
  12. Divide mousse among six teacups or 4-oz. ramekins
  13. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours
  14. DO AHEAD: Mousse can be made 1 day ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving
  15. Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse
Advertisements

My first apple pie

individual apple pie

After making successful pastry for my mince pies a few weeks ago, I said that I would conquer my fear of pastry. And with the inspiration of Mamma’s Gotta Bake’s mini apple pies and the ever dependable Martha Stewart’s recipe for easy pie crust, I made my first apple pie ! I’ve a long way to go from a presentation perspective, but the taste and texture came out just how I wanted it to (I’m so thrilled).

A few rules that I followed while making my pastry:

  • Keep everything as cold as possible – butter should be chilled (I popped mine in the freezer). The reason for this is to keep the butter from melting into the flour, giving you a more crisp and flaky end result. For this reason you should minimise contact with your hands as much as possible, use your fingertips or the heel of your palm, which are the coolest parts of your hand, or better, use a pastry cutter or a food processor.
  • Add just enough water to the pastry to bind it together – too much and the water will evaporate while cooking and steam, making the pastry soggy.
  • Don’t overwork the pastry – quickly work the ingredients to just bring it together. Overworking the pastry will release more gluten in the flour, making your pastry less delicate.
  • Make sure you rest the pastry for at least an hour – I rested it for two for good measure – this helps the gluten to relax, giving you a more tender texture.
  • I love the idea from Martha Stewart to double the quantity of dough, and freeze half for use later.

My first apple pie makes 4 individual 10cm pies

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  1. 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  2. 230g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tsp sugar
  5. 4-6 tbls iced water

For the filling:

  1. 6 tart apples (granny smith or fuji), peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 cm pieces
  2. juice of half a lemon
  3. 1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
  4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  6. 1/4 cup white sugar
  7. good pinch of salt
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch

To finish:

  1. 1 egg, beaten
  2. 1 tbls granulated sugar

Method

  1. Make the pastry first to give enough time for it to rest while you make the filling
  2. Add the cubes of butter to the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse on low until combined – it should resemble course breadcrumbs
  3. Add 2 tbls of the chilled water to the mix and pulse once or twice – just enough to bind the ingredients together for you to be able to tip the mix onto a board for kneading
  4. Continue to add 1 tbls at a time until the dough comes together
  5. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour
  6. For the filling, add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the cut apples to stop them going brown
  7. Add the sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch and mix to coat the apple pieces
  8. Cook in a large saucepan for a few minutes until the apples soften – I like my apples to still have a bit of bite when cooked – if you want them softer, cook them for longer
  9. Add more lemon juice to the mix to taste – the sourness will mellow as the mix cooks
  10. Remove from heat and cool – about 30 minutes
  11. When ready, preheat your oven to 220C/425F
  12. Roll out your pastry to 3mm and I used the foil pie trays to cut out two circles per pie – one circle the size of the edge of the tray, one 1/2cm larger
  13. Use the larger circle to line the tray – you can use a muffin tray if you don’t have the foil trays
  14. Spoon the cooled apple mixture into the trays
  15. Top with the smaller circle and seal the edges (I used my thumb and you can also use a fork)
  16. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the granulates sugar on top
  17. Bake on a baking sheet to catch any apple filling that may bubble out for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown
  18. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes
  19. Serve while warm with a big dollop of cream or ice-cream

Rustic blueberry tart

Who doesn’t love decadent sweet treats ? Choc Chip Uru’s wonderful blog Go Bake Yourself is pretty much full of chocolately goodness and it’s always such a delight to visit and escape in all that sugary goodness. Everyone should take a peek into her happy happy life at least once (I challenge you not to go back after one visit) – I can guarantee if you are having a bad day you’ll feel better after.

And guess who was lucky enough to be able to write a guest post ? Yes, yours truly ! You can check the post on Uru’s blog and I’m reposting it here because I actually really love this tart ūüôā

Ingredients serves four
  1. 75g unsalted butter – melted
  2. 90g caster sugar
  3. 80 ground almonds
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
  5. pinch salt
  6. 1 sheet of puff pastry
  7. handful of blueberries (I use frozen but you can use fresh)
  8. additional sugar for sprinkling
  9. Optional: clotted cream or good vanilla ice-cream to serve
Method
  1. Mix together the sugar, ground almonds, vanilla and salt
  2. Add the melted butter and mix well to combine
  3. Take the sheet of puff pastry and cut into quarters
  4. Lightly score about 1cm around the edges using the edge of a pointed knife
  5. Spread the almond mixture evenly over the pastry within the scored area
  6. Place the blueberries on the almond mixture
  7. Bake in a hot oven (200C) for 15-20 minutes until the puff pastry and almond mix are golden brown
  8. Serve hot with a dollop of cream or good vanilla ice-cream

Lobster night at Blu, Four Seasons, Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Sardinian style marinated lobster, tomatoes, onions and olives

Work has finally died down to a point where I have my weekends back (yay!) and I’m writing my posts a bit backwards, so this post is from our recent trip to the Maldives.

There were four restaurants at the Four Seasons featuring various cuisines from Arabian, to Chinese, to Italian and a simple grill.

Blu was our favourite restaurant I think simply because it was where we started many of our evenings, enjoying cocktails at the bar. Sipping your cocktails with the Indian Ocean in front of you, surrounded by decor that exactly matched the perfect blue of the ocean is the only way to go daahlings ūüôā

Chilled pea and mint soup with lobster

On Monday nights Blu serves a lobster degustation menu. We figured that lobster when you’re on an island in the middle of the ocean might, just might, be kind of spectacular.

First course was a lobster salad with Sardinian style marinated lobster, tomatoes, onions and olives. I often find lobster can be heavy and even tough, but this was poached perfectly so that it retained the sweetness and the flesh was light and tender.

Second course was a chilled pea and mint soup with lobster. Beautifully presented at the bottom of a chilled martini glass, the soup is poured over the lobster at the table. The freshness of the pea and mint soup was refreshing in the relative humidity of the evening.

Lobster with reginette pasta, asparagus puree and thyme

Pasta was next with lobster with reginette pasta, with an asparagus puree and thyme. The pasta was perfectly shaped to hold the delicate tomato-based sauce,

Lobster gratin with parmesan and black truffle sauce, wilted spinach and baby carrots

The main course was a half lobster gratin with parmesan and a black truffle sauce. It almost seemed a shame to top off a fresh lobster, served in it’s half shell with parmesan but with classic flavours like that, it was the killer dish of the evening.

Coconut risotto with passionfruit puree and shaved chocolate

Dessert was a coconut risotto with passionfruit puree and shaved chocolate. The combination of the creamy, rich, warm risotto and the tartness of the passionfruit with the melted chocolate was both surprising and delicious.

The food at all four restaurants was just delicious, mainly because they served beautifully fresh seafood, usually very simply prepared. Add the warm hospitality of all the staff, and dining out each evening was just such a joy.


Chocolate pots with toasted marshmallow

I had no idea what a s’more was until I read this gorgeous post from Kay at Pure Complex. A quick search online told me that it was a traditional American campfire snack of chocolate with toasted marshmallow, sandwiched between two graham crackers.

There was something appealing about the combination of textures and flavours, and the pictures were too damn cute for me not to want to try it.

My recipe below pretty closely follows the recipe and recommendations from Raspberri Cupcakes¬†to make espresso cup-sized rich, creamy chocolate pot de cr√®mes with a fluffy meringue topping that has been toasted, served with digestive biscuits. You really don’t need any more than this size, and it’s a really lovely end to dinner.

Before I was let loose with my blowtorch

Ingredients makes 6 espresso cup-sized desserts

  1. 100g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% cocoa)
  2. 150ml pouring cream
  3. 1 tbsp freshly brewed coffee
  4. 2 egg yolks
  5. 25g caster sugar
  6. pinch salt

For the marshmallow fluff:

  1. 2 egg whites
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 80g sugar

Digestive biscuits to serve

Method

  1. Heat chocolate, cream and coffee in a saucepan on low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a separate heatproof bowl placed over simmering water for 5 minutes or until thick and pale
  3. Slowly pour the chocolate and egg/sugar mixture and whisk on high for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick and cool
  4. Pour into serving cups and chill in the fridge for at least two hours
  5. To make the marshmallow:
  6. Making sure your bowl is clean and dry, whisk together the egg whites and salt until foamy and at least doubled in size
  7. S-l-o-w-l-y incorporate the sugar, continually beating after each addition, to make sure the sugar has dissolved and you get stiff glossy peaks
  8. I have made meringue so many times and the only time I can control it, especially in such small cups, is to pipe it over the chocolate, but if you are feeling a bit on the wild side, go nuts doing this freehand
  9. Using a blowtorch, carefully toast the marshmallow and enjoy that comforting smell
  10. Serve with digestive biscuits either cut to shapes/soldiers or crumbled over the top

Chocolate brownies

A simple recipe from Bill Granger that will fill your home with the wonderful aroma of molten chocolate. You should always have all the ingredients already in your pantry. Which actually means you could (or should) always make brownies. Crispy on the top and soft and almost gooey in the centre, this basic recipe is also very adaptable (check out Rufus’ food and spirit guide to make them alcoholic).

Ingredients makes 16 squares

  1. 2 1/2 cups Caster sugar – I actually use half a cup less because I like them less sweet (and to make them healthier??)
  2. 2/3 cup Cocoa powder (no sugar just pure cocoa powder)
  3. 1/2 cup plain flour
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 4 eggs, beaten
  6. 200g butter, melted
  7. Generous pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter, small pinch if using salted butter. I am a firm believer that everything sweet tastes better with salt.
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. 200g dark chocolate buttons
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 160C (315F)
  2. Stir the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl
  3. Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract and mix until combined
  4. Mix in the chocolate buttons
  5. Pour into a lined 22cm square tin and bake for 80 – 90 minutes. Stick a skewer or a raw stick of pasta in to the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
  6. While the block is still warm, cut into 16 pieces
  7. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream

South African Style ‘(Mel)ktert’…

My first guest post! I love guest posts because I get to share with my friends and fellow bloggers the delicious food that I get to experience with and from other friends and fellow bloggers.

I get so excited when I meet people who are as passionate about food as me, and it always amazes me how many different personalities of “foodies” there are out there. My friend, Melody, is a new resident of Singapore from her native South Africa, and I am always learning something new about South African cuisine and wines from her. She is one of those amazing cooks that loves to experiment and mix things up and I get so inspired by her. The photo below (that I took in harsh halogen lighting) does the milk tarts absolutely no justice. They are gorgeous – cute and delicate and creamy and simply moor-ish. I might have to raid her fridge for the bigger tart she made. She is also an awesome mum with a brutally honest and always entertaining blog about children, food and life in Singapore, melonearth. Please read on for the delectable details from Melody!

Individual traditional South African milk tarts

We’ve all been dying to get together for a¬†catch up, good old board games and a ‘night in’…and of course something yum for the tum.¬† I woke up on Friday feeling like baking, so instead of my original offering of bringing along a cheese board, I opted for a typical South African delight that’s not too heavy on the¬†gut before we headed into chaos with the board games…even though I used half the sugar, I’m not sure if it was the ‘milk tarts’ or the delicious red (and special bottle of white¬†I brought along) that gave us the sugar rush to carry on till 1am, either way, we had a blast.

The start to the evening was a tad annoying as I refused to glad wrap my tarts for fear of squashing them, so instead, I ended up dropping one…then our dear ‘Uncle’ taxi man had NO idea where we were going and took us on a joy ride around Singapore.¬† Finally arriving,¬†we made our way up to a homely, beautiful welcome and an instant happy place where dear friend Carol insisted I do a guest post…I am honoured, but admittedly, I was a little scared, as I am by no means a foodie like Carol, I’m just a babbling masterchef wannabe…so here goes!

For the pastry:

2 Cups of flour

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

2tsp Baking powder

125g butter

pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar together, add egg and all other ingredients till it’s a soft, stiff dough.

It makes a lot of dough, so you can do 2 dishes with this or as I did, 1 full tart and 12 cupcake size tarts.

Bake at 180 degrees until light brown.

For the Filling:

4 1/2 Cups Milk (1.125l)

21/2 Tbsp cornflour

3/4 Cup Sugar (I used brown, raw sugar)

2 1/2 Tbsp flour

Dash vanilla essence

blob of butter

1. Bring milk to the boil slowly, make sure it does not boil over

2. Beat eggs, sugar, flour, cornflour well together and pour into the boiled milk.  Mix well

3. Allow mixture to thicken, then add in the butter and vanilla essence and continue stirring.  The mixture should resemble a porridge consistency.

4. Remove from heat and pour into the shells

5. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes, sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate until ready to serve

Enjoy, I know we did (and¬†I still am with the extra full sized tart in my fridge…).

xx


Chocolate fondant

Super rich, this is a dessert to be served after a light(er) meal but I personally think it should be a compulsory way to end all meals.  This recipe is adapted from one I found from Felicity Cloake in the Guardian

Ingredients (serves four)

  1. 100g dark couveture chocolate – I used Lindt 70% cocoa
  2. 90g unsalted butter plus more for greasing the ramekins
  3. 2 tsp cocoa powder
  4. 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk
  5. 85g castor sugar
  6. pinch salt
  7. 2 tsp plain flour

Method

  1. Start by buttering the insides of the ramekins, making sure you butter the bottom edge well
  2. Dust the inside with cocoa
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter on the stove over low heat
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, whisk the sugar and eggs and salt together until thick and foamy
  5. Slowly combine the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour
  6. Pour into the prepared ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least an hour
  7. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 200C (390F)
  8. Take the ramekins from the fridge and bake for 13 minutes exactly.  The tops should be set (and slightly cracked) and coming away from the edges.
  9. Let sit for 1 minute, then gently turn out on to a plate
  10. Serve with a dusting of cocoa and a dollop of cream or just strawberries

Tarte Tartin

**Update** Tried it again and it worked perfectly with granny smith apples and making sure that I didn’t burn the caramel – hurrah ! ¬†A good dollop of heavy cream while the tart is still hot really works.

Original post below:

We’ve been following Gordon Ramsay’s F Word where the series was focused on finding Britain’s best local restaurant. ¬†One of the finalists was the Pheasant at Keyston and their dessert was a tarte tartin. ¬†It looked so delicious I thought I’d give it a go myself.

With no Braeburn apples available at my supermarket, I went looking for granny smith apples, but my supermarket had none of them either so I chanced it with red delicious apples.  Mistake #1.

 

Toffee apples

Mistake #2 was not watching over my sugar caramelising like a hawk.  You are meant to leave it in the pot to simmer and bubble away without stirring.  It was colourless for so long that I went away from the stove for a few minutes, and when I went back to it, the caramel had gone just the wrong shade of brown.  I tipped my apples in and once a little cooler, I tasted an apple and it had the distinct taste of burnt sugar.  Boo.

I’ll try it again when they have granny smith apples in the supermarket, and will share a picture of the finished tarte but in the meantime here’s the recipe.

Ingredients (for two greedy people)

  1. 2-3 Braeburn or granny smith apples
  2. 1 tbs lemon juice
  3. 100g sugar
  4. 15g butter, cubed
  5. 1 sheet puff pastry
  6. Thick cream or ice-cream, to serve
Method
  1. Peel and core the apples and cut into six slices. ¬†Place in a large bowl and toss in the lemon juice to stop them browning. ¬†Don’t try this with other red apples as they will lose their bite and go mushy ones they cook
  2. Preheat oven to 190C
  3. Place the sugar and 2 tbs water in an oven-proof frying pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then increase the heat to medium and cook for about five minutes without stirring until the sugar caramelises and is a light brown colour.  STAY WITH YOUR CARAMEL, it goes from colourless to burnt very quickly
  4. Add the butter and apples, coating the apples in the caramel and arrange nicely (they will be on top of the tarte once served). Be careful don’t touch the caramel because it’s hot
  5. Place the pastry over the apples, tucking any excess under the apples, like a blanket
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden brown
  7. Remove from oven and allow to rest in the pan for 10 minutes
  8. Carefully turn the tarte upside down onto a large plate
  9. Serve warm with cream or ice-cream

Crêperie des Arts

Classic Crêpe Suzette

On Prinsep Street there is a charming little row of shop houses where one of our favourite French bistrot is.  We noticed the last time that there were a few French eateries next door, and last night we visited Crêperie des Arts.

The menu is limited (especially their drinks menu) and the friendly, competent staff know everything on that menu well.

We shared three savoury galettes (open cr√™pe) between the four of us – starting with Saint Caradec¬†– cr√™pe with seared scallops and creamy leeks. ¬†The sweetness of the leeks and the scallops were delicious. ¬†The cr√™pe batter for the galettes is made of buckwheat flour, a traditional Breton recipe (Chef Johan Aubertin – master “crepier” is from Brittany).

The second and third crêpeCrêpe Complete with smoked ham, Savoy Reblochon cheese, egg and mushroom,  and the Aiguebelette, a gratin of potatoes with reblonchon cheese, onions and bacon bits.  All three were absolutely delicious with just the right amount of crispiness from the edges of the crepe, with just enough filling to coat each mouthful with delicious cheesy creaminess.

The dessert crepes are made of plain flour and we ordered the crepe Suzette (flambeed at the table), and the crepe Keroch which was just a simple crispy crepe that was drizzled with a salted caramel butter.  It really is true that the simple things in life are often the best.

Crêperie des Arts
44 Prinsep Street
Tel: 6333 5330

Open: Tues – Sun : 17:30 – 23:00, Fri – Sun: 12:00 – 14:00