Perfecting a classic- Honey Creme Brulee

I haven’t yet met someone that doesn’t like creme brulee with it’s thin, crunchy, glass-like caramel sugar layer topping a silky smooth custard- it really is the perfect dessert that can be served warm (winter comfort food!) or cold in the summer with fresh berries. So how to improve on an already perfect dish?

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The special ingredient is…HONEY!

Honey adds a light floral sweetness to the custard that is pure deliciousness! You wouldn’t get the same depth of flavour from the traditional recipe using white sugar.

To make this dessert, simply substitute in honey for the sugar in your favourite creme brulee recipe.

Needless to say that the container was scraped clean by my friends after our morning tea- it’s plate-lickin’ good!

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A Cool Summer Treat- Melon, Mint & Passionfruit!

It is a real treat during those long, hot summer days feasting on juicy wedges of melon straight from the fridge- how cool and refreshing!

You really couldn’t go wrong with the flavours of watermelon, rockmelon, passionfruit and mint– sweet and zingy! Ripe cubes of rockmelon marinated in passionfruit pulp sit in a sweet watermelon puree flavoured with fresh mint- so easy and delicious! Try it out for your summer party!

SONY DSCIngredients

  • 1/2 fresh watermelon, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 fresh rockmelon, de-seeded and cut into small cubes
  • Pulp from 4-5 passionfuit
  • Some fresh mint leaves, finely shredded

Method

  1. In a blender, puree the fresh chunks of watermelon. Mix in the shredded mint leaves and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Mix the passionfruit pulp with the rockmelon cubes. Place in the refrigerator.
  3. To serve, divide watermelon puree and rockmelon cubes into serving bowls. Top with some extra passionfruit pulp and mint leaves (optional).

The Emergency Panna Cotta Birthday Cake

It was my mother’s birthday last week and I fully intended to surprise her with a grand two-layered strawberry and blueberry cheesecake with a dark Oreo cookie crust. It would be tinged pink and purple with the puree of fresh strawberries and blueberries, and decorated with a gorgeous mound of ripe cherries, strawberries and juicy blueberries. On the eve of the birthday it was all going according to plan- the cake was all done and fully decorated- when disaster struck! The whole cake toppled over and fell splat on to the floor when I tried to unmould it from the tin…

What to do? The supermarket was already closed so getting more ingredients to make another was out of the question. I looked frantically in my pantry trying to come up with an idea for a second cake… and finally came up with this Strawberry, Pandan and Green Tea Panna Cotta Cake. It has a vanilla cookie base with a layer of green tea panna cotta studded with fresh blueberries, then a layer of strawberry panna cotta and finally topped with some raspberry jelly.SONY DSC

Decorated with some fresh berries and flowers picked from the garden, it doesn’t look too bad for a last-ditched effort!

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This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things.

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Jeweled Raspberry Cheesecake Tart

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Doesn’t pomegranate seeds look like little beads of shiny red jewels? I cannot believe that I have neglected this beautiful fruit all along- it fits perfectly into what I look for in cake decorations: it has a vibrant colour, is easy to use and a pleasure to eat!

The sweet yet tangy burst of flavour from each pomegranate seed compliments the silky cheesecake filling flavoured with fresh lemon, raspberry puree and a dash of vanilla. This is all encased in a crunchy biscuit base with a hint of warm ginger!

You really cannot go wrong with this cool fruity dessert- be sure to make enough for seconds!

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Ingredients:

Approx. 250g Gingernut biscuits
Approx. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
200g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g thick Greek yoghurt or Mascarpone cheese

200ml sweetened condensed milk
30 ml fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Approx. 4 tablespoons thick raspberry puree, plus extra to decorate
icing sugar (optional)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Directions:

1. Place the Gingernut biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer the biscuit crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the melted butter until the mixture is well combined.

2. Press the biscuit mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a tart tin. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and Mascarpone cheese or Greek yoghurt until smooth and then stream in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, raspberry puree and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Taste mixture and sweeten with icing sugar if required. Pour the filling into the chilled biscuit crust. If decorating, pour on top some of the extra raspberry puree and create swirls using a knife or skewer. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until firm.

4. When ready to serve, take the tart from the fridge and remove from the tin. Top the tart with the pomegranate seeds then slice and serve.

Sunny Sweet Potato Swiss Roll

You might not believe me, but vegetables and desserts can work together- especially in this Swiss roll featuring a creamy filling of sweet potato!

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As a matter of fact, sweet potato has long been a popular dessert flavour in Asian countries- cakes and breads containing sweet potato can readily be found in Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese bakeries.

This bright and sunny Sweet Potato Swiss roll wouldn’t weigh you down and you’ll feel good knowing that sweet potato is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin A, as well a moderate source of vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium!

A feather-light vanilla sponge cake filled with smooth sweet potato puree sweetened with a little raw honey– who can resist this simple combination of deliciousness? I dare you to stop at one bite!SONY DSC

A Farewell with a Peach and Mango Mousse Cake

For a great send-off morning-tea of a wonderful friend and her exciting travels abroad, I have made this light and fruity Peach and Mango Mousse Cake- ideal for the hot, sunny weather of late! Round, rosy peaches are in season now and their delicious aroma and sweet, juicy flesh make this cake a stand out.

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The star of the cake must be the peach and mango mousse, where softly whipped cream is stirred through with fresh peach puree and mango jelly. Between two layers of moist, fluffy vanilla sponge cake is a filling of mousse with finely diced ripe peach pieces. The cake is then topped with a translucent layer of mango jelly and decorated with a flower of peach slices and rosebud strawberry.

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Judging by the fact that nearly everyone went for seconds and the whole cake was gone in a matter of seconds… this cake is definitely a keeper!

Simply Strawberry Cheesecake

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Pretty in pink, this smooth and dreamy strawberry cheesecake is perfect to celebrate my mother’s birthday on this hot summer’s day.

With strawberries in season, I cannot resist to fold in the puree of a whole punnet of fresh strawberries into the filling. You can definitely taste the fresh sweetness of strawberries accented by a dash of zesty lemon juice.

As a final flourish, the mirror-like finish of  soft strawberry jelly with delicate flecks of gold leaf is simple yet elegant.

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Happy Birthday Mum! 

Rose and Mint Annin-Tofu with Boysenberry Coulis

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The first post of 2014- Happy New Year! I have just been away on a fantastic holiday in Tokyo and have had some of the best foods I have ever tasted: fresh sushi at Himawari Sushi, zaru-udon with a rich pork broth at The Ramen Museum, tempura at Tempura Tsunahachi, chanko-nabe (hotpot eaten by sumo wrestlers) in Ryogoku, zarusoba at Kobayashi-Soba, sukiyaki, yakitori with plenty of sake and shochu, hot takoyaki in the streets of Nakano…

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One dish that I didn’t expect to like but loved on my first mouthful was annin-tofu. The ones I have had in the past tasted like medicine, but annin-tofu in Japan was light and refreshing with none of the medicinal flavour! It was usually served with a sweet sauce, such as fruit jam or sesame paste.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a special mention to the konbini that were found everywhere in Tokyo and stocked all manner of snacks, bento, drinks (including canned wine!) and even stationary! I have lost count of the number of times I have visited konbini during my trip to sample an interesting drink (my favourite was the hot sweetcorn soup in a can), ice-cream mochi and fresh salads. What caught my attention in the dessert aisle were the varieties of purin (pudding) in many flavours, but sadly I did not have the chance to try them out.

My Rose and Mint Annin Tofu with Boysenberry Coulis is inspired by the annin-tofu and purin that I have encountered in Tokyo. It is soft, creamy yet light with the delicate fragrance of rose and fruity-tartness of boysenberry.

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Decadent & Healthy Date Truffles

How can something taste so decadent and yet it is  good for you? Let me introduce to you these dark, chocolatey date truffles filled with slivered almonds and coconut. I always find shop bought truffles to be too sweet and coyingly rich but these ones have the perfect balance between sweet and slight bitterness of the cocoa powder. These have always been a great hit with everyone that has tried them, followed by recipe requests!

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried pitted dates
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp unsweetend cocoa powder
  • 70g slivered almonds
  • 1 cup  fine desiccated coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • some fine desiccated coconut for shaping

Method

  1. Combine dried dates with water in a large bowl. Cover and microwave until water boils and dates have softened (approximately 2 minutes).
  2. Mash dates with a fork and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Add cocoa powder, slivered almonds, desiccated coconut and vanilla essence to the dates and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
  3. Divide mixture into balls of desired size and roll in fine desiccated coconut.

Notes

I can think of a multitude of variations for this recipe:

  • You can use any combination of different nuts and seeds in place of the almonds
  • Using different flavour essences in place of vanilla
  • Adding in your favourite spices