Tag Archives: Cakes & desserts

Spiced Applesauce Cake

I believe that some of us are genetically predisposed to love food, whereas others are not so blessed.
~ Judith Jones

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen – Spiced Applesauce Cake (adjusted the quantity of some ingredients).

Haidee has the cake, so I’m not sure if it was a success – we’ll find out tomorrow!

As for yesterday’s brownie, thank you for your comments – they were delightful to read :-) My flatmate Matt took the brownie to work and his colleagues apparently ate it! :-O

Happy Friday!

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A good risotto to conclude Risotto Season

Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.
~ Mark Twain

There’re a few dishes that are lovely to cook and to eat, but not in excess – and I am fast learning that risotto is one of them. For instance, I fashion meals with eggs all the time and never tire of them, but risotto… risotto is different. It’s beautiful, elegant and comforting, but it’s absolutely smothering if you have it too often (made the third one this month tonight – oops).

I think both Matt and I were heaving wearily with the weight of risotto after a few spoonfuls of it this evening!

The recipe came from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#62 Champagne Risotto – Page 297

Tessa Kiros describes it perfectly with the phrase “startling honesty”… that is exactly what it is. The champagne is invisible, seemingly lost in a galaxy of rice, butter, parmesan and shallots – but its aroma penetrates your mind and its flavour arrests your tongue the moment it enters your mouth. It’s a blade of truth, transparent and pure. I do like this dish, and think it is best served in smaller portions as a prelude to seafood or vegetables.

As the risotto bubbled to cooked perfection, I stirred in a whisked egg yolk as suggested in the notes; I think I liked this and will do it again in other risotto dishes in the future.

You’re looking for photographic evidence now, I know. Well, I am sorry I am unable to post any of the pictures I took. I ran them past three people just to be sure I was not the only one who thought them distasteful, and all of them think you will be better off not seeing them… :-/

Tonight, we also had:

Matt’s Juice (version #50-something-at-least? of juices like this)… tonight’s version included baby carrots and beetroot leaves. :-/ Pretty potent.

Monkfish baked with lemon zest and juice, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper… (wrap the fish up in foil parcels and bake at 180°C for around 20 minutes. Simple).

And now we are drinking stovetop hot chocolate… always a welcome finish to the evening!

Goodnight!

PS. Cute is this post on The God of Cake.

Feels like Christmas Eve

There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now.
~ Author Unknown

It’s only August, I know, but right now it feels like Christmas Eve. The night is calm and pregnant with smiles. I don’t need Santa and his sleigh, or trees, or shopping – I have a chocolate & hazelnut meringue cake (for Matt’s early birthday present) and a dark chocolate tart with gingersnap crust (for my colleagues) resting in the fridge, waiting for tomorrow.

My house smells of Christmas (post-gingersnap-crust baking), and I am listening to Christmas carols, with egg yolk on my face (not entirely without reason – I’ll explain below).

Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake – recipe adapted and slightly modified from Tartlette

Oh luscious chocolate, you smelled too good!

Slightly reminiscent of bubble bath, don’t you think?

Yay – base of the cake done!

Meringue done too… (the hazelnuts I folded into the meringue mixture took forever to shell, but on seeing this – I felt it was all worthwhile).

Looks pretty stately, if I say so myself – thank you Helene from Tartlette!

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust – recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

MORE chocolate! And cream! I’m so glad my colleagues are going to be helping to eat this! ;-)

Pouring the chocolate mix into the gingersnap crust was one of my favourite parts of tonight! (Though I have to say, taking photos with one hand while pouring with another, under bad dim lighting, is really quite an exercise.)

Oops, I think I didn’t use enough melted butter in the crust, so it looks like it may disintegrate easily… also, my tart tin was once again too small so I had to make it in a normal cake tin!

Hmmm. I’m just going to hope for the best!

These two desserts are great ones to make if you want to bake two things in a night, because they use exactly four 200g blocks of chocolate between them, and you don’t waste eggs, because you can split the required egg yolks and whites for each recipe and have two egg yolks left over to make an impromptu face mask.

Which you can slap on to your face and leave for a few minutes while you wash the dishes and/or blog.

I’ll edit this post tomorrow with a brief report on how they taste(d)!

[edit] It appears that the tart was really well-received by my colleagues AND by Cam :-) Yay!

Cake was killer-rich, especially coupled with Matt’s stovetop hot chocolate, so I think our guests went home much heavier than when they first stepped into the house, but they all needed it anyway! [/edit]

Tiramisu

The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, frightful, sweet, bitter, and that is everything.
~ Anatole France

(Recipe to come after we conduct taste tests!)

[edit]

    Tiramisu
    Ingredients:
    3 eggs, separated
    2 cups espresso, cooled (I used instant coffee – make this VERY strong – with at least 3 times the amount of coffee powder you’d usually use with that amount of water)
    4 tbsp French Vanilla Kahlua (or other Kahlua/brandy)
    4 tbsp caster sugar
    250g mascarpone cheese
    170ml thickened or whipped cream (optional)
    16 large sponge fingers
    Dark chocolate, chopped, or cocoa powder
    6 ramekins for serving

    Method:
    Prepare the espresso and chill it in the fridge/freezer till it is at least room temperature.
    Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the mascarpone cheese and kahlua/brandy, and beat the mixture until just combined. Fold in the thickened cream if using.
    In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
    Spoon one tablespoon of the mixture into each ramekin, using the back of the spoon to spread it across the bottom. Break the sponge fingers to fit the ramekins, dip them in the espresso and shake them so they are not dripping, and arrange them in a tight, single layer on top of the mixture. Spread another layer of mixture on top, followed by another layer of sponge fingers. Finish with a final layer of mixture, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate bits or cocoa powder evenly over it.
    Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 6 hours before serving.
    Yields 6 servings.

[/edit]

Chai-spiced baked chocolate puddings

Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.)
~ Spanish proverb

It’s fun experimenting with different flavours, and it’s so rewarding when the combination works! Last night, I decided to try putting together chocolate and chai, using one of Tessa Kiros’s recipes as a base (previously tested and found to be successful).

These are so easy to whip up, and you can leave them to bake merrily in the oven while you cook your dinner (just remember to take them out in time, and leave them to cool while you are dining!)

    Chai-spiced baked chocolate puddings
    Recipe adapted and modified from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”
    Ingredients:
    200ml milk
    150g dark chocolate
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 fiery masala chai tea bags (I used Dilmah’s)
    2 eggs, separated
    40g caster sugar
    200ml pouring cream
    Method:
    Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the milk, tea bags and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and suspend over a saucepan of boiling water. Heat until the chocolate has completely melted. Stir often so the chocolate doesn’t stick, but take care not to break the tea bags. Add the vanilla. Remove the bowl from the heat, and throw away the tea bags.
    Whip the egg whites in a small bowl until fluffy peaks form. Set them aside and work quickly so the whites don’t deflate. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until combined. Whisk in a ladleful of the chocolate milk so that the eggs don’t scramble, then add the rest in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously. Whisk in the cream, fold in the egg whites and spoon the mixture into 6 oven-proof little ramekins.
    Set the ramekins in a deep baking dish. Carefully pour boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the puddings are slightly crusty on the surface. Remove from the water bath and leave to cool. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold alone, with cream, or a very light dusting of icing sugar (I served mine cold alone).
    Yields 6 yummy servings.

Chocolate, cheese, action

A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.
~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

It strikes me now that I fed my flatmates and guests an overbearing amount of chocolate and cheese for dinner tonight… oops!

The first thing I started working on late this afternoon was the chocolate crust bit of this recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#52 Ricotta Tart with a Chocolate Crust – Page 331

It looks like a thin pizza here, but really, it isn’t. It’s a comfy cake tin lined with a deep chocolatey pastry bed encasing some silky citrusy cheese mix (pre-baking).

I like starting dinner preparations with Dessert leading the way.

Now, lest you begin to believe it turned out to be a perfect success, it wasn’t. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I didn’t have a food processor and beat it all by hand, but it refused to set properly even after an excessively long time in the oven. It eroded with startling ease when one of my flatmates accidentally dropped the cake tin too (the tin landed on its bum, thank God!) Here is the remains of the eroded tart depicted, after everyone had a wobbly scoop of it:

Taste-wise, though, what can I say? You can hardly go wrong with the good flavours of ricotta, chocolate, lemon & orange juice and orange zest… ;-)

And this? No, it’s not a quirky dessert; it’s salad! Salad with arugula, feta, pistachio nuts, cranberry sprinkle, sliced almonds, plump dried apricots, onion, snow pea shoots, orange zest, and just for fun – chocolate bits (inspired by Molly Wizenberg’s book, “A Homemade Life”).

We also had filo parcels filled with chicken, apricots, brie, chutney, garlic, onions, cashew nuts, basil, parsley, salt & pepper… but I neglected to take photos of those.

I was a little sleepy as we sat in the lounge afterwards, so I missed out on quality engagement with the others… but it was an enjoyable night nevertheless and I’m glad everyone else got to see each other, eat, relax, spend time together. Super.

[edit] It is now Saturday morning, and I’ve just had a lovely surprise.

The ricotta tart has somehow improved greatly in taste and texture overnight (I just a small slice of it for breakfast). I’m not a fan of leftovers most of the time, but in making a few of Tessa’s desserts, I have been finding that they taste a million times better when they are given time to sit in the fridge or on the kitchen bench, depending on the dessert in question of course. [/edit]

A sort of tiramisu

I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream.
~ William Shakespeare

Were I as vigilant as Shakespeare, I would have had some cream at home. As it is though, I did not, so I made some impromptu tiramisu-inspired layered something with trim milk instead and poured it into 5 ramekins which are now sitting in the fridge.

I did not cook with method or precision tonight. Ingredients used: amaretti biscuits, shredded coconut, 2 eggs, strong coffee, drizzle of kahlua, 1 tbsp sugar, some mascarpone cheese, some cream cheese, some trim milk, chocolate bits. I’m mostly optimistic about the results.

[edit] It tasted perfect, but it was very wet! I strongly advise the use of sponge fingers (as opposed to amaretti biscuits) and cream (as opposed to milk). [/edit]