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Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Chocolate Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

A work colleague once asked me if I order in restaurants the same way that I order coffee.  I thought his comment was pretty funny, especially since the weekend before my husband had said I was a waiter’s worst nightmare.

“What do you mean?” I asked my husband.

“Well, you like to change everything in the dish.  You want to order the steamed fish but have them fry it instead, and have the sauce on the side instead of pouring it over the fish – and if it comes with potatoes, you want rice instead!”  He said.

Surely he was exaggerating!

But I did have to concede to my work colleague that being finicky with my coffee never earned me any brownie points with the baristas.  One day I’m having a cappuccino with one sugar then the next I’m having it with one and a half sugars.  Then I learned that you get more milk with a latte so I switched to that (with one sugar).  Then I went off coffee and started having chai lattes – then soy chai lattes, then I missed my coffees and got back on to the lattes – but I wanted a weak latte, one and a half sugars and chocolate sprinkles on top…. oh and extra creamy.

And then I switched to tea – but that’s a whole different story altogether!

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Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Being invited to someone’s house for dinner always poses a problem for me. I often wonder, what’s the best thing to bring? Given a choice between bringing the standard wine, flowers or food, I’ll inevitably resort to bringing food. Then there’s the dilemma of what dish to bring. Do I bring an entree or dessert? And God forbid if I bring the same dish that the host is cooking!  Being asked to guest blog is just as nerve wracking. Especially when the one asking has such a beautifully written and photographed blog like Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets.

After much internal debate, I managed to settle on this Frozen Brazo De Mercedes, a very much loved layer cake from the Philippines.  I wanted to make a dish that showcased one of the most unique (and delicious) desserts that the Philippines had to offer.  What to take a guess as to what the layers are made of?  Well, I’m not going to spoil it for you – just head on over to Xiaolu’s blog for the recipe of this Frozen Brazo De Mercedes Cake.  And while you’re there, make sure the check out the rest of her lovely blog!

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

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Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts

Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts

You would agree with me when I say that you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at the food they post on their blog.  Right?  Well, today I’m going to introduce you to Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets blog.  First she’s extremely talented.  I can’t even begin to tell you about how detailed and amazing her creations are.  This Mangomisu Cake should speak for itself.  Then, she’s a great photographer.  Here is a link to when she turned a  S’more into a cupcake which won her first Does My Blog Look Good in This Award!  She’s also mainly vegetarian and can make any meat eater seriously consider giving it up.  Check out her Roast Sweet Potato with Miso-Tahini glaze and Spiked Spaghetti so you  get an idea of the super healthy dishes she comes up with.  I could probably go on and on but the one thing that really strikes me is her beautiful writing and how her personality shines through her stories.  When you read Xiaolu’s blog – you feel like you are meeting one of the sweetest persons.  So after you check on these super yummy looking Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts, please head on over to Xiaolu’s blog so you can see what I’m talking about (make sure you have lots of time because her blog is incredibly addicting!)…. But in the meantime, I’m handing my blog over to Xiaolu….

Thank you so much Xiaolu – you are my first guest post on this blog and it is an honour to be able to have you do this for me.

I’ve had a food blog for 1 1/2 years now. And while the simple desire to catalog and share delicious recipes got things started, it’s the wonderfully talented and caring blogger community and a passion for photography that keep me hooked. I recall Trissa was one of the first bloggers to reach out to me as a new blogger. Her consistent encouragement plus each mouthwatering post to this site really inspired me to build something wonderful for myself. And now, at the start of a new year, she’s bolstered me once again by allowing me this small addition to her lovely site. Thanks so much to Trissa and all of you for having me today!

What is it about miniature treats that gets us so excited? Is it simply the cuteness factor of a regular dessert shrunk down? Perhaps some people favor their portability, as with cupcakes. Or is it simply that getting an entire treat to ourselves, rather than just a sliver, makes us feel that much more special ;p? Whatever the reason, I’m certainly not immune to it and couldn’t resist buying the mini tart pans used to make these orange passionfruit tartlets.

Even if you’re somehow immune to their petite charm, I think these tarts will win you with their refreshing flavors and contrasting textures. They’re a happy meeting of tangy yet sweet fruits whose flavors dance across your tastebuds with every bite. Plus the addition of crunchy poppy seed to the crust means that it’ll hold its own, even against such a luscious curd filling. These tarts are great to serve to guests (mine even licked their plates), but be careful during the preparation. They’re so moreish that you may just decide to keep them all to yourself if you taste one ahead of time ^_^.

Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts

Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts

Orange Passionfruit Curd Mini Tarts from 6 Bittersweets

Recipe from Xiaolu of 6 Bittersweets Blog Printable Recipe

Adapted from several recipes in The Pie and Pastry Bible
Makes six 4-inch mini tarts

XIAOLU’S NOTES: You can use any combination of citrus fruits that you want for the topping, really. I chose navel orange, blood orange, and cara cara oranges. Practically all components of this recipe can be prepared in advance, leaving only minor assembly to be done the day you want to serve the tarts.

Tarts were baked using a conventional (non fan-forced oven).  Adjust oven temperatures if necessary.

Poppy seed Mini Tart Shells (Recipe Below)
Passionfruit Curd (Recipe Below)
3 assorted citrus fruits, ends and peel sliced off and sectioned

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150c) at least 15 minutes before baking. Smoothly fill the prebaked tart shells with passionfruit curd and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. The filling shouldn’t change color and should barely jiggle when the pan is moved. Transfer tarts to a rack to cool.

Once the tarts have completely cooled, arrange several citrus segments atop the tarts. Then remove tarts from their pans and enjoy!
Poppy Seed Mini Tart Shells

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 1/3 cups (6.5 oz.) bleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Divide cold butter into 5 tablespoons and 3 tablespoons. Cut all butter into 3/4-inch cubes, and wrap each portion with plastic wrap. Place the flour, poppy seeds, salt, and baking powder in a resealable gallon-size freezer bag. Freeze all of the above for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the frozen flour mixture into medium bowl. Whisk to combine this mixture. Then using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the larger portion (5 Tbsp) of butter cubes into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Transfer this mixture and the smaller portion (3 Tbsp) of butter cubes into the freezer bag used earlier. Remove any air from the freezer bag and seal it. Now, use a rolling pin to flatten the butter in the bag into flakes. Freeze the bag until the butter is very firm, another 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the contents of the bag back to the bowl. Sprinkle 2 1/2 tablespoons ice water and all the vinegar onto the mixture, tossing it lightly with a rubber spatula. If the mixture still seems very dry, sprinkle 1 tablespoon more ice water and toss again with the spatula.
  5. Move the mixture back into the freezer bag. Keeping the bag unzipped, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  6. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  7. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, at least 45 minutes.
  8. Roll dough out to 1/16-inch thickness. Cut out 5 1/2-inch circles of dough and press each of these into a mini tart pan. Prick the bottoms of the dough all over with a fork. Cover and freeze for at least 30 minutes and up to a day before baking.
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 c). Cover tart pans with parchment paper and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and remove the beans and parchment. Press down lightly with a spoon on any areas of the crusts that have puffed up while baking. Return to the oven for 7 to 10 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and brush with beaten egg white while crusts are still warm. Let cool.
    Passionfruit Curd
    Makes 1 2/3 cups 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp passionfruit puree OR juice from 9 to 10 fruits, divided
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  1. In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, beat the eggs, yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until well blended. Stir in 3/4 cup passionfruit puree, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the sides of the pan, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon but liquid enough to pour. Mixture will change from translucent to opaque.
  2. Once curd is thick enough, press it through a strainer suspended over a medium bowl that contains the zests. Add remaining 2 tablespoons passionfruit puree to the bowl and stir thoroughly; allow to cool. Curd can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

Coming from the Philippines where adorning  homes with Christmas decorations has become a national pastime that begins in September, my first impression was that Australians weren’t very keen on Christmas.  I couldn’t get used to Santa in a body suit, trading turtlenecks for singlets, or a “white Christmas” referring to spending time in Bondi beach.

Jenni's Berry Pie

Jenni's Simple Berry Pie

It’s taken almost five years but the Aussie Christmas has certainly grown on me. This year we spent Christmas day at my Aunt Jenni’s house in Canberra.  I meant to share these pictures with you sooner but it’s taken me awhile to rouse myself from the food induced coma brought about by the eating binge over Christmas.

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Strawberry and Macaron Trifle

Strawberry and Macaron Trifle

If you regularly read my blog (and if you don’t: why not?!?!), you might know that this year I started teaching macaron making at The Essential Ingredient.  It’s been a fantastic and rewarding experience (especially when I get sent pictures of finished macarons from former students) and I look forward to more classes next  year.  One question I get asked frequently is “What macaron book do you recommend?”  I’ve probably bought all the books on macarons ever published.  I have even bought two macaron books written in French (Christophe Felder and Pierre Herme) to learn as much as I can (on a few occassions I have even translated a few recipes).  With the craze of macarons in the year or so, a number of books in English have also been published.  None of them I have been completely happy with.

That is of course until last week, when, by some happy accident (meaning I went to the bookstore without intending to buy anything) I found Jose Marechal’s Secrets of Macarons.

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Strawberry and Watermelon Cake

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake

When I was a kid I wanted to be a gymnast.  I remember watching a movie on Romanian Nadia Comaneci and how she scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars in the 1976 Olympics and thought to myself that I was born to be a gymnast. 

So my best friend and I started teaching ourselves cartwheels, back bends and once even decided to create our own  dismount station on the side of my brother’s bed so we could practice somersaults (I shrudder at the thought of our bravery then!).  During long car trips my Dad would play classical music and I would close my eyes and pretend to do a floor routine to the music of Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

So the logical thing to do was ask my parents permission to take proper gymnastic  lessons – and I was devastated when they said no. I am assuming they thought it was too dangerous.  Maybe they thought I wasn’t ready… maybe, they weren’t ready.  I brooded over what to do next for months.  Finally, I decided to write them what I thought was a tear jerker of a letter asking them to reconsider their decision.  And what a letter it was.  I’m pretty sure the phrases “this is my dream” and “please, please, please” came up many times.  The next day, they relented.

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Mango Weiss Bar

Mango Weiss Bar

Sometimes I think I am in over my head asking chefs for their recipes.  Last week I had a dream that I asked Gordon Ramsay for his Caesar Salad recipe and he screamed at me.  He said there was no way he was going to give it to me and I should just wait for the release of his next book where I could find it!  I swear, I woke up in a sweat and my heart racing.

Howard from Eat Show and Tell and another friend had Dared Me to get  Sepia‘s famous Mango and Vanilla Weiss Bar and so I approached the restaurant for the recipe.  I made contact with Vicki Wild not only who manages the front of house but is also partner to Head Chef, Martin Benn.  I thought, if anyone could charm Chef Benn into parting with such a coveted recipe, it would be her.  And luckily, Vicki Wild is much more charming and accommodating than Gordon Ramsay.

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