Early Christmas Bakes: Lemon & Gingerbread Cookies, Spice Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Realised I still left a lot of cream cheese frosting after the party. Not wanting to waste, so back to more baking. This time round, mini Spiced Chocolate cupcakes.
I think I have enough of baking for now... looking forward to my vacation in Kansai soon!
Dense dark bittersweet Valrhona Chocolate with Grand Marnier. There are many ways of presenting dessert as demonstrated - in a large bowl, garnished with chocolate shavings and raspberries.
Or in chic looking expresso cups or mini glass (candle holder in fact).
Variation from the chocolate pots - a light & rich chocolate mousse which can be piped into store-bought tart cases lined with dark chocolate and topped with rasberry and icing sugar.
With gold leaves and gold dust - definitely impressive enough to create an impression if you are serving this to guests.
Or better still, serve the mousse in a martini glass. Anything served in a martini glass creates a wow factor it seems.
Cream Brulee which is essentially vanilla-infused egg custard with a crispy caramel crust baked in a ramekin and is always an all-time favourite of dessert lovers. It's really easy to make as well :D
And of course, the cooked version egg nog, supposedly a rich creamy Christmas drink garnished with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. I love the creamy richness of the milk, cream and egg. The rum and spices add depth to the drink and I confess I'm quite hooked.
Do we drink this only during Christmas? I guess because it goes really well with the Christmas Stollens and Puddings. Yummy... must drink as much as I can this Christmas.
所以呀，这几个星期对写部落格有些意态阑珊，对许多事务也感到精神颓靡, 欲振乏力。唯一能让我振奋的是打麻将，哈哈，真有点不好意思的说。不然大多时间都窝在土豆网和youtube看台湾偶像剧或综艺节目，有点没建设性。不过阿Q 一点，加强了退步的中文也不错啦。所以今天就用中文练习一下，真的好久没用中文写东西了。
- White Chocolate (Valrhona Ivoire), Macadamia, Sundried Cranberry & Madagascan Vanilla Blondie
- Sticky Medjool Date & Guinness Stout Gingerbread with Crystallised Ginger
- Spiced Chocolate & Sour Cream (using Valrhona cocoa, Pure Coffee Extract and a touch of cinnamon)
- Pumpkin with Pecans & Rum-Soaked Raisins
The fondant snowman and penguin make such a cute couple :D I think they would certainly be favourites among the kids.
Santa's hat, presents, bows, hollies... anything Christmassy adds to the joyous mood.
There are so many ways of decorating the cupcakes, all depending on one's imagination and creation; and of course lots of patience. Lovely to look at and nice to eat :p
A swirl of icing tinted with green, touched up with an icing star and silver edible embellishment - there you have, an elegant Christmas Tree!
Somehow, baking is therapeutic. The mind is totally focused while preparing the ingredients and seeing the baked products turn out successful gives a great sense of satisfaction. Furthermore, the baking process is a test of patience, precision and planning. I learnt the hard way having had some failures due to impatience, laziness and poor organization. Now I know and I'm trying to improve my work flow.
It's been a few months since I attended Chef Christopher's Retro High Tea class. Have wanted to try the custard cream puff but kept putting it off. In fact, I bought the Bird's Custard powder soon after the class but the can was idling on my shelf for 3 months now.
Finally made up my mind to try it today and it's not that difficult after all :D Was a little apprehensive, especially when the puffs didn't 'puff' up as expected based on the recipe after 10 to 15 mins of baking. In the end, I adjusted the baking time based on gut feel and the puffs turned out alright :) Perhaps my old little oven wasn't hot enough.
Have heard so much about Marmalade Pantry at Palais Renaissance, supposedly a chi chi mall frequented by tai-tais; and that the restaurant is so popular that either you queue and get lucky or make reservations. Hadn't been to Palais Renaissance before, obviously I'm not in that league; just an aspiring tai-tai earning my own keep for now :p
Was definitely excited when Marmalade Pantry opens a branch at Holland Village, my chance to check out the ravings. Since I have not been to the one at Palais, couldn't make comparisons. The restaurant looks trendy with all white-furnishing, kind of casual or at most smart casual setting. Not that chi chi afterall? Menu items look chi chi though. Service-wise was prompt and attentive. Come to think of it, this place feels a little like Greyhound Cafe in Bangkok.
The Sticky Date Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is to die for!!! The pudding was served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Didn't know what to expect since it was my first time trying this English dessert. I was totally blown away after the first bite. It was moist, tender and full of richness, yet not too sweet. The toffee sauce complemented the pudding really well. The ice cream is no ordinary vanilla ice cream; the taste is much more intense due to the vanilla bean used.
I guess I will be back for the other menu items. As for dessert, it would be a tough decision between something new or the Sticky Date Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
Writing this blog makes me crave for the pudding now... In fact, I'm googling for recipes to see if I can try baking it at home.
The Marmalade Pantry
17D Lorong Liput
Variations in design achieved with fondant and royal icing of different colours. Simple or elaborate designs? It's all up to you!
Are the gingerbread boy & girl sweet? I love the taste of gingerbread with its spicy scent and taste :D Are these ornaments for real? Another conversational piece set to bowl over people.
Joycelyn showed us that just one large decorated snowflake packaged in a red box with ribbons and gift tag is enough to create an impression.
Early Christmas present for each participant - A box of handcrafted decorated cookies baked with love by Joycelyn!
I couldn't wait to get home and finished all of them quickly enough. Love the zesty lemon flavour but my favourite is still the gingerbread :)
Heard that Phoon Huat has ran out of meringue powder. So while I wait for stock to arrive, shall drool over the lovely photos at Joycelyn's blog.
- Matcha Macaron - a French classic flavoured with Japanese green tea filled with buttercream
- Black Sesame Ice Cream - a simple recipe using black sesame paste
- Dark Brown Sugar Swiss Roll - a very soft sponge with whipped cream & chestnuts
- Soy Bean Chiffon Cake - Japanese-style soy bean sponge covered with red bean whipped cream
- Black/White Sesame Cookies
Chef Keiko's method of making macaron differs slightly from Joycelyn's but yielded perfect results all the same. (I'm still hesitant about making macaron. Perhaps till I manage to get hold of the 1/2 size Silpat mat and other essential equipment.)
Making ice-cream seems easy! That is, with the help of an Ice-Cream Machine. The black sesame ice cream tasted delicate and full of black sesame richness. Alas, my kitchen is just not ready to accommodate another piece of equipment.
I love the swiss roll, spongy and light and complemented perfectly by the whipped cream and chestnut. This should be manageable at home. Can't wait to find time and try this!
Having attended Chef Christopher's Chiffon Cake 101 class previously and successfully baked many chiffon cakes using his recipe, I was quite curious when I saw Chef Keiko's recipe does not require baking powder nor cream of tartar (corn flour is used instead). The chiffon cake turns out to be equally light and fluffy!
The sesame cookies are crunchy and savoury due to the black and white sesame seeds used. I must try this too since sesame is rich in Vitamin E :)
At the end of the class, we tasted the Black Sesame Ice Cream and Dark Brown Sugar Swiss Roll and each participant brought home a lovely slice of Soy Bean Chiffon Cake with red bean whipped cream, 2 slices of Black/White Sesame Cookies and 1 piece of Matcha Macaron. Yet another weekend afternoon well spent and looking forward to the next class!
Had intended to set off at around 8pm so that we could take a leisurely drive up to Mersing but I was stuck at work. By the time I got home, it was close to 9.30pm. It was then a mad rush to freshen up, do some last checks before setting off. An unlucky start? :(
Fortunately the journey was quite smooth and we managed to reach Mersing at 12.30am just in time to catch the main group (nearly 50 people) who had set off earlier at 8.30pm. At 1am, we boarded the ferry. Having had the nasty experience of nearly 'freezing' to death previously, we avoided seats near the air-con and brought sleepy bags. But it wasn't exactly comfortable still, and we drifted to sleep on and off through the 4hr journey to Pulau Dayang.
Finally reached Dayang at 5am and hit the bed immediately. Morning call was at 8am. Contemplated skipping the first dive to catch more sleep but the sunny weather and blue waters seemed so inviting. After breakfast and dive briefing by our divemasters, it was off to our first check out dive at Sebukang.
It is mainly muck diving but that's where divers got the chance to discover lots of well-camouflaged critters. Our DM sure got very sharp eyes and pointed us to a Flounder which we would otherwise never even notice! Lots of goby with shrimps which hid in a flash before I have chance to take a shot -_- And at one point, we were blocked by large schools of fusiliers, and basically just 'sat' and watched while they swam by.
Since I was looking for a drink anyway, decided to give it a shot literally. Tried one shot of beetroot, carrot & celery. Hmmm, tasted like beetroot, carrot & celery which I rather enjoy. It says 'Cleanses blood, balances PH levels'. At $2.50 a shot, this organic vegetable juice should work its magic and detox my system right? :p
I love the bottle! Wonder how much it would cost.