Tag Archives: dessert

Pavlova

The Pavlova was created in honor of the Russian ballet dancer Anna Matveyevna Pavlova after she toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s. She was a renowned dancer, lauded for her grace and beauty. During the peak of her popularity many chefs would create desserts in her honor to coincide with her visits to their countries. Not surprisingly, these desserts would generally be light and airy to reflect her dancing style – eg. meringue based desserts, lights cakes and jellies.

The traditional Pavlova is one such dessert. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether it was first created in New Zealand or Australia. Anna Pavlova toured New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929. Some food writers claim that before her 1926 visit, a recipe had been published in New Zealand for a fruit filled meringue pie. A chef in the hotel she had been staying in apparently used this recipe but created the augmented base after being inspired by her ballet tutu. However, in 1935, a hotel chef Herbert Sachse from Western Australia apparently claimed that he created the modern Pavlova after building upon a recipe for a Meringue Cake which he saw in the Women’s Mirror Magazine April 2, 1935 edition. This recipe was submitted by a contributor from New Zealand. It appears though, that Sachse was the one who actually named the new recipe Pavlova after he noted that the dessert was “as light as Pavlova”*. Consequently, the modern day Pavlova is an iconic dessert claimed by both countries and is a national dessert for both.

As its namesake suggests, it is incredibly light.  It’s a lovely dessert, particularly on a warm summer day. Today is also Australia Day and to honor this special day, I thought I would make this traditional Australian dessert. Ahhh…a restful day off, a cold drink and a slice of Pavlova….all I need now is to find a nice spot “under the shade of a coolabah tree”* and there’s little else I could ask for.

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To make the Pavlova you’ll need:

6 eggwhites
1 Tbs cornflour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
Vanilla essence
400ml thickened cream
1 punnet strawberries
2-3 kiwifruit
1 punnet blueberries.
1/2 cup strawberry jam.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating to a stiff peak. Add the vinegar then mix in the cornflour and vanilla essence.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with baking paper and pour in the meringue.
  4. Reduce the oven to 100 degrees and bake the meringue for about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly when the meringue is baked – leave it to cool completely.
  5. Carefully transfer the cooled meringue onto a serving platter.
  6. Whip the cream using an electric beater and pour over the cooled meringue base.
  7. Top with the sliced fruits.
  8. Heat the jam for a few seconds in a microwave then glaze the fruits with the melted jam.
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Macarons

What is deliciously light, chewy, and can almost always guarantee a smile no matter how long or grey the day may be? What else but theMacaron ? The Lindt Chocolate Bar serves delicious macarons. I love to sink into one of their comfortable chairs with a coffee and macaron as the stress of the day is slowly replaced with contentment.

The macaron was arguably introduced to mainstream Sydney by superstar patissier Adriano Zumbo during his appearances in Master Chef Australia. Since then, his inner city cafe has become a mecca for foodies, pastry lovers and macaron seekers of all kinds.

The modern macaron that Adriano Zumbo introduced was developed by Pierre Desfontaines from the French pâtisserie Ladurée *. It consists of two almond meringue shells filled with buttercream, ganache or jam filling. When I first considered making them from scratch, I decided to reconsider that notion and examine it. They are notoriously difficult to make and require a lot of patience and perseverance. The thought of making these delicate brightly colored biscuits intimidated me. What if I put in all this effort only to have a batch of cracked, deflated cookies? Is it really worth the time and energy? Why bother making them when I can buy them from someone who knows how to make them already? But there the turning point lay – if I let this fear of failure stop me from trying to learn how to master the macaron, then I will spend the rest of my life never knowing this skill. The macaron loomed in my mind, a neon tinted fancy mockingly bwaking chicken…chicken.. ch-ch-chicken! I made up my mind. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

To make the macarons you’ll need:

Macaron Shells:
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 cups ground almonds
5 egg whites (aged)
1/3 cup caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Flavouring and food colouring

Chocolate Ganache:
125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
Approx 100 ml heavy cream

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  1. Separate the yolks from the whites and leave the egg whites in the fridge to age for at least 24 hours.
  2. Using an electric blender, grind the almond and powered sugar together until very fine.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Stir in your preferred coloring and flavouring.
  5. Fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold carefully, making sure the mixture is fully incorporated.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round 5mm nozzle. Pipe 2cm rounds onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Set meringue aside to dry for about 45 mins (this helps to reduce cracking)
  7. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and bake the macarons for about 15 mins or until firm when lightly tapped.
  8. Allow the macarons to cool on the tray. The macarons should lift from the baking paper easily, but if the bottoms are a little sticky, use a sharp knife to lift them.
  9. To make the ganache filling, heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Mix gently until the chocolate melts. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Allow it to cool until the mixture thickens.
  10. Match up similarly sized macaron shells. Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag and pipe onto one half of the macaron shells before topping with the other macaron shell.

Christmas Wreath Cake

This cake is simple to make and the result is quite lovely. It was something of an experiment, and as an early attempt the results were not exactly as I had envisaged. Still, I think with practice (or if made by a more practiced cook) it has the potential to be quite beautiful. I have decided that this will be a keeper. Consequently, there may be wreath cakes sporadically gracing my family’s table throughout the year before next Christmas hehe.

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You can make it with a whole ring cake or with cupcakes. Personally, I prefer using cupcakes and in this instance I used chocolate cupcakes. To make the cupcakes, you’ll need:

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour

I opted for cream cheese frosting and for this you’ll need:

125g softened butter
250g cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted icing sugar
Green icing coloring

For the leaves and berries I used:

250g white chocolate
Several bunches of mint leaves.
Green food coloring
Jaffas

Instructions

    1. Wash and dry the mint leaves.
    2. Melt the white chocolate and stir in the green coloring.
    3. Brush the white chocolate over the mint leaves or dip one side into the melted chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and allow the chocolate to set.
    4. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celscius and grease muffin pans.
    5. Combine the water and milk chocolate over low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
    6. Beat the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    7. Sift the flours and cocoa together. Gradually add into the sugar, butter and egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
    8. Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
    9. Bake for about 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
    10. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in several drops of green coloring and mix well.
    11. Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe onto the cupcakes using a large star tip.
    12. Arrange the cupcakes to form a circle then place additional cupcakes to make a second, inner circle.
    13. Gently peel off the leaves from the hardened chocolate.
    14. Arrange the chocolate leaves and jaffas on top of the cupcakes

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You can also place chocolate cake truffles in the center of the wreath if you prefer. To make the cake truffles:

  1.  Process the unused cupcakes in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
  2. Pour the cake crumbs into a large mixing bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the remaining frosting until the mixture forms a dough.
  3. Roll the mixture into balls and then toss in cocoa powder or dip into melted chocolate. Place the balls in the center of the wreath.

Brazo de Mercedes

Brazo de Mercedes is a traditional Filipino dessert consisting of a custard filled meringue roll. The name literally translates to “arm of Mercedes”. The origin of the dessert is unclear although the name indicates it stems from the era of Spanish colonization. I have to admit I find the name a little baffling. Why would someone name a dessert after a woman’s arm? At any rate it is a delicious dessert and one of my favorites. It’s also pretty straightforward to make. The difficulty is in applying the will power to stop eating it after one serve (well, okay…maybe after two) :-)

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Ingredients

10 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 C condensed milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1/3 C powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
  2. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar then beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Gradually add the caster sugar then vinegar. Continue beating to a stiff peak.
  4. Place baking paper on top a cookie sheet and lightly grease the surface.
  5. Pour the meringue mixture onto the baking paper and even out the surface using a spatula.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the meringue turns a light brown color.
  7. Combine the egg yolks, condensed milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens.
  8. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  9. Remove the meringue from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  10. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the meringue and place wax paper over it. Turn it out onto a similarly sized tray and slowly peel off the baking paper.
  11. Pour the cooled custard over the meringue and spread it evenly over the surface.
  12. Carefully roll the meringue using the wax paper.
  13. Transfer the finished roll onto a serving platter and enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently had occasion to make cupcakes and I thought this time I’d use some white chocolate frosting..I love chocolate in any way, shape or form and I like the taste of the chocolate frosting better than buttercream. Of course, the only appropriate topping would have to be more chocolate :-) This time in cookie form, hehe.

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Cupcake 
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour

Frosting 
120 gms white chocolate melts.
1/4 hot water
2 cups icing sugar
100 gm butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate cream cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celscius and line muffin pans.
  2. Combine the water and milk chocolate over low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat together the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flours and cocoa together. Gradually add into the sugar, butter and egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
  5. Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the center bounces back when lightly tapped. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the white chocolate and hot water. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
  8. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in the cooled white chocolate then place in the fridge until the frosting is firm enough to pipe.
  9. Place the frosting in an icing bag and pipe onto the cupcakes using a star tip.
  10. Cut some chocolate cream cookies in half and place on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Leche Flan

Leche Flan is a Filipino type of custard flan. Literally translated it means milk flan. The flan however, is a dish stemming from the Roman times when innovative Roman cooks adopted Greek culinary principles to tackle the problem of how to preserve surplus eggs and came up with a custard-based dish. This little dish that could endured the transition of various eras and empires. During the Medieval ages, the flan developed into the two main forms that exist today. In England, the custard was poured into a pastry shell and mixed with fruits or nuts to create a tasty baked flan. Its enduring popularity is evidenced by the fact that it’s frequently mentioned in English literature. In Spain it was transformed into a sweet custard generally served with caramelized sugar. This type of flan became a world-wide hit following the voyages of notable Spanish explorers such as Columbus and Magellan who furthered not only Spain’s empire but the flan’s popularity. The leche flandeveloped from the second type of flan and much like its ancient Roman ancestor, it has displayed an enduring and prevailing quality, successfully surviving the turbulent history of the Philippines to maintain its triumphant place on the traditional Filipino table.

 

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Ingredients

10 egg yolks

1 375 ml can condensed milk

1 375 ml can evaporated milk

1 Tbs vanilla essence

1/3 cup raw sugar

2/3 cup water

 

Instructions

 

  1. Mix the yolks, vanilla and milk together with a wooden spoon. Set aside while you make the caramel
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil without stirring until the mixture achieves the consistency of syrup.
  3. Pour the caramel into a baking dish or into individual molding dishes.
  4. Using a strainer, pour the milk and egg mixture into another bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon but try not to create a lot of air bubbles (this will affect the texture of the baked custard).
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish or into individual molding dishes.
  6. Place the baking dish or molding dishes onto a larger tray. Add water to the tray until it’s about midway full.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes at 170 degrees celcius then increase to 175 for the last 20 minutes. The leche flan is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean