Vanilla Bean Icebox Cheesecake

When the weather is sweltering hot outside, there is nothing quite like a slice of cool, creamy melt-in-your mouth cheesecake.

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Ice-cream Sandwiches

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Who ever invented the ice-cream sandwich was such a genius! I grew up eating our local version sold by the ice-cream uncle, whose arrival was signalled by the unmistakable tinkling of the bell (which never failed to excite the kid in everybody) He would retrieve giant blocks of ice-cream from the mobile freezer, depending on your chosen flavour (raspberry ripple, red bean & choc mint were my favourites!), before slicing a neat rectangle and sandwiching it between two layers of crispy wafer or rainbow bread if you like. Mmmm.

Here it is, my very own take on the classic ice-cream sandwich. Instead of the huge round chewy cookies used in the American version, these feature my favourite chocolate shortbread cookies. This was closer in appearance to the frozen treats sold by our ice-cream man, just a tad more substantial and flavourful (the thin wafers were unfortunately, pretty tasteless). What better filling for my sandwiches than some homemade gelato – Dark Cherry and Espresso – made a few days earlier. Too much effort for something that disappears in a single bite? Well, these are certainly worth it and would make an awesome idea for your dinner party DIY dessert bar!  Continue reading

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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Cake for breakfast? Well, yes. I love cinnamon-anything. Put them together and I’m a happy camper. Crunchy, crumbly sweet topping covers the top of the fluffy and moist cake, with more swirls of cinnamon within. A slice served alongside some yogurt and fresh berries is (one of of my many ideas of) breakfast nirvana. This is also great for tea time or a snack whenever a craving creeps up on you. I’ve made this cake countless times and it has since become a family favourite!
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Edit: The last week or so, was crazy — throw together 2 presentations, law musical, SUNIG netball matches and rounding it all of with a quiz and 2 midterm exams. Woah. That pretty much explains the short hiatus from this space and the fact that I’ve had no time at all, let alone bake. Thankfully, I’ve got a few back-up recipes and here’s one which was made early last year. Enjoy!

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Orange Almond Cake

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Here’s my first attempt at a gluten-free cake – however, this one was merely coincidental. It was inspired by the one I had at Dean & Deluca @ Mandarin Gallery. It was moist, full of zesty orange flavour and had an interesting crumbly texture to it (thanks to the almonds). Sadly, it was a whopping $9 for a teeny wedge. Gosh. Did someone say overpriced? My quick search online for ‘orange almond cake’ turned up 2,700,000 results. After comparing the recipes, I realised it was only made from 4 ingredients. Yes, four ingredients! It was pretty simple too – begin by boiling the orange, then blending it down before adding whipped eggs, sugar and ground almonds. The final result was utterly delicious, pretty darn close to the one at Dean & Deluca I must say! (Hehehe this totally sound like I’m blowing my own horn here) Their version had a glaze which helps to keep the cake moist for longer, especially when stored behind the glass display. I skipped that to keep it super simple. Looks like I’ll be making this again and again!  Continue reading

How To: Tiramisu

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Tiramisu. What’s not to love about layers of soft sponge fingers soaked in espresso and a boozy mixture of Marsala wine, rum and brandy. Swathed in a lush, velvetly and delectable Italian custard and mascarpone filling. It’s like all the good things in life (edible, of course) came together in a single dessert. Well to be honest, I’ve had some truly unforgettable ones, others that were mediocre and a couple of unfortunate times which could only be described as disastrous. All these while, making tiramisu seemed so intimidating that I’ve never thought about making it myself.

It all started when I was thinking about what dessert to bake for a New Year’s party. Now, there’s no way I’m gonna cheat here and take the easy way out (aka store bought savoiardi or ladyfinger biscuits). Baking the ladyfingers was easy – basically a sponge cake batter piped into little ‘fingers’, dusted with a little powdered sugar and baked. I like my Tiramisu to be intense. So in went the espresso, liquors and copious amounts of them. 3 attempts later, I must say that they have gotten closer to the Tiramisu of my dreams but, not mhmm.. perfect yet. I’ve gotten quite a few compliments that night and had request to make them again. So for now, I’ll just have to keep tweaking the recipe to satisfy the perfectionist in me!

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Hokkaido Milk Bread Loaf

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I’ve never tasted this strange and interesting ‘Hokkaido Milk Bread’, ever. The thing that drew me to it was the promise of a soft, light moist loaf that would stay that way for up to 3 days – this could only be achieved by using the tangzhong method. This is essentially a water-flour roux heated to 65C before being added to the rest of the dough. Wow, it was amazing. The bread rose perfectly, evenly and had the famed chewy-soft texture. Pillowy-soft, plush and incredibly fluffy. There was also a distinct milky aroma and lingering sweetness to the loaf (thankfully, not too rich or overpowering). Worlds apart from those hearty, artisanal breads, but still sooo good in its own way. It you love those lightly sweetened, fluffy white Japanese-style breads, this is definitely for you!

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Persimmon & Chocolate Cupcakes

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Cupcake baking yet again, and this time more fruit pairings. This is really becoming somewhat of a Cupcake Chronicle. Anyway, it’s the time of the year again when these orange-hued juicy fruits, bursting with sweetness come back into season. I used hate persimmons because of their pulpy and squishy flesh but I’ve since grown to like its unique taste and best of all, it’s supposed to be really good for you! It was my first time baking with persimmons, so I wanted to keep it really simple to let the natural sweetness of the fruit shine. Vanilla Bean & Honey Cupcakes were filled with a persimmon puree centre and topped off with more sliced persimmons. Sugar was sparingly used and floral honey was added to barely sweeten them. For the frosting, a rosette of whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache was piped on each cupcake to temper the sweetness of the fruit. Biting in one, the fudgy melt-in-your-mouth frosting gives way to a light cake which surrounds a jam-like centre, infusing the cake with flavour. On hindsight, I should have added more persimmon puree to the middle (to achieve a runny oozy salted egg custard bun effect) but oh well, there’s always next time!

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Fruit & Nut Granola

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Breakfast is definitely the meal I cannot go without, no matter how late I eventually crawl out from underneath the covers. Hooray for all-day breakfast!! Since the semester has began, (with that comes the mad rush to get to uni on time) my to-go breakfast has been granola + yogurt and a cup of coffee. As much as pre-packaged cereals (my fav has got to be the Sweet Home Farm granola) are convenient and so darn tasty, nothing beats an organic home-made batch with only the things you love!

Easy, I promise this is possibly the simplest recipe here. Organic rolled oats, sunflower seed kernels, macadamias, walnuts and sesame are measured out. Combine some organic molasses cane sugar, maple syrup, olive oil, honey and a little water over the stove until it becomes smooth. Mix in a generous tablespoon each of pure vanilla and cinnamon, with a pinch of sea salt. Stir everything together to coat the oats and nuts evenly. Spread evenly on a baking pan and baked at 160C til they all turn golden brown, crunchy and delicious (: Finally, toss in the organic raisins and dried cranberries. I like have mine with yogurt and sliced bananas on top, enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake + Guanaja Mousse

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Death by chocolate. Think, a dense, fudgy base of flourless dark chocolate torte. Top that off with an ethereal layer of rich silky Guanaja chocolate mousse. Rich and lush as it melts in the mouth. The circle of fresh blueberries, with their burst of tanginess refreshes the palate between mouthfuls. Mhmm.. there is a reason why this cake is tiny, about 4.5 inches in diameter.

The contrast between the two components somehow works beautifully together. Oh, not forgetting the mix of bailey’s irish cream, whiskey and kahlua thoroughly infused into the cake. Next is the Guanaja mousse which, despite it delicate whipped texture, packs some pretty intense flavour. The smooth, velvety nature enhances the bittersweet flavours of this indulgent cake. Something which I felt was lacking was a crunch or crisp — maybe a praline feuilletine layer at the base the next time?

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Tarte au Citron

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There are a million and one different lemon desserts out there but my favourite has got to be the humble lemon tart. Just the plain ol’ lemon tart without all that fancy schmancy burnished crown of meringue. It scores with its minimalistic and elegant appearance. Not to mention the beautiful sunny, pastel-yellow filling. Sometimes, I do a ‘cheater’s version’ by simply topping a baked tart shell with homemade lemon curd. However, this French Lemon Tart totally knocks it out of the park.

A buttery crisp shortcrust tart, imbued with the unmistakable scent of vanilla, surrounds a softly-set, lemony custard filing. I used my absolute favourite Pâte Sucrée and adapted Thomas Keller’s recipe for the lemon filling (I’m such a fan of Kelle! French Laundry, Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery are on my to-visit/eat list/bucket list) This lemon tart is deceptively simple to make – which is unfortunately both a good and dangerous thing. A slice of the tart, plain and unadorned is yummy on its own. Sifted powdered sugar or a drizzle of chocolate across the top would add a nice touch, but why go to such lengths? Now, I think I have found the lemon tart.
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