Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cherry Rose Coconut Ice Cream

I love waxing lyrical over food, especially desserts. When I've discovered a new dish, new flavour or a new combination that left a deep impression on my mind, I can't get it out of my head and have a tendency to crave for it. This happened to me when I tasted this Cherry Rose Coconut Ice Cream.

Well, sidetrack first. This week was a pretty busy week for me. I had sooo many things going on and was basically rushing from place to place the whole week. Though busy, I really enjoyed all the activities and am very thankful for the people who are placed in my life. I'm also really looking forward to camp, which is coming in in slightly more than a week's time....excited!!

Ok, back to the yummy ice cream. At first, I was skeptical about trying out this flavour. I don't like coconut...and I normally steer away from it as far as possible. However, I had a feeling that my family will enjoy this refreshing flavour hence I went ahead with it. 

Boy, was I majorly surprised. I fell in love with it at my first spoonful - the creamy, fragrant coconut milk melding with the slightly tart cherries like a dream. I could hardly taste the rose but it doesn't really matter, this was absolutely delicious.

It's a must to use fresh coconut milk for this as the packaged ones have an overly strong coconut flavour that I don't quite like. Oh, and use good cherries too. The dark cherries I use were absolutely delightful.

If you'd like an added crunch, sprinkle some cocoa nibs over the ice cream. I love how the cocoa nibs provide an interesting added dimension to this gorgeous  flavour :).

Cherry Rose Coconut Ice Cream
adapted from Tartlette

For the Rose-infused Cherries
145 grams pitted and quartered cherries
60 ml water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100 grams sugar
12 food-grade dried rose buds (more or less depending on your own liking)

1. Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat off and let steep one hour (longer for an even intense rose flavor). Remove the rose buds and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Ice Cream
250 ml heavy cream
250 ml whole milk
250 ml whole coconut milk
200 grams granulated sugar

1. In a large saucepan set over medium low heat, bring the cream, milk, coconut milk and sugar to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, preferably overnight.
2. Process the mixture into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's intructions.
3. Once the ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, pour into a freezable container. With a spatula, swirl in the cherries and a few tablespoons of their liquid. Freeze a couple of hours before serving.

Yields slightly less than 1 quart.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Macaron au Chocolat Amer

Macarons, macarons, macarons...I wonder when will my fascination with them will end. To be honest, I didn't expect to fall in love with them at all. When I first saw them at Canele Patisserie, I was drawn by the lovely spectrum of colours they came in, yet at the same time I was put off by all the colouring that went into these delicate cookies. I can still recall my very first bite into a macaron...and my impression of it wasn't great. To me, it was just an overly sweet cookie with a slight chew to it, very unlike the kind of cookies I normally love.

So when did my love for macarons start? Honestly, I can't remember. My first two tries to make macarons using the French method turned out to be total disasters. I took a one year hiatus from them until I mustered enough courage to try them again. During that one year, I read many online posts on this finicky cookie - how it's extremely sensitive to temperature and folding and humidity...almost as temperamental as a woman like me. However as I tried to understand it more, I began to fall in love with it...and know more about the intricacies of what makes it tick and what doesn't. Though I do have a couple of successful batches under my belt now, I'm still very much an amateur yearning to grow in my understanding and knowledge of this temperamental ice princess.

In my quest to understand the art and science of macarons, I decided to experiment with Pierre Herme's Macaron au Chocolat Amer recipe. Adding melted cocoa mass into the shells was an extremely scary process! My meringue turned out really flat and soft compared to my previous tries! "There it goes..." I thought to myself...and I thought the batch will never make it. I was prepared to chuck everything into the bin if it did fail me, but thankfully it didn't. My macarons had feet (though weird ones) and tasted pretty good! They aren't as pretty as the previous batches, but they do look like they're safe for consumption.

I whipped up the bittersweet ganache filling as directed, making use of unsweetened chocolate. After assembling the macarons and allowing them to rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, I tasted them. I was pleasantly surprised at how the addition of unsweetened chocolate rounds off the sweetness nicely. My mum even commented that the shells aren't as sweet as before (which was a common grouse among my older relatives). This was really encouraging, even though they didn't turn out as pretty as I would have liked.

Besides unsweetened chocolate, I used Valrhona Guanaja and added butter to the bittersweet ganache. Personally, I prefer the Guanaja-based ganache to the Manjari. This has a more intense chocolate favour and balances out the sweetness of the shells very nicely.

If you'd like to experiment for yourself, the recipe is taken from here. I'd love to be able to make the perfect Macaron au Chocolat Amer like Veronica from Kitchen Musings one day...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies - Healthy, Wholesome Goodness

This week is a very exciting and eventful week for me. Not only is my week filled with many fun activities, it also includes a trip to watch the Youth Olympic Games yesterday! To me, this event is really special as it is like a mini version of my dream happening right in my own backyard. I've been longing to, yet putting it off for the longest time, to travel overseas to watch the Summer Olympics. It hasn't quite happened yet (it will eventually), but I'm really thankful and glad that we have our own mini version right here in Singapore. To many, it probably doesn't mean alot to them but it shows how far we've come since independence, how strong we've grown and how developed we've become despite our small size. It's easy to just brush it off as just another sporting event when you're not a sports fan, but really, if you think about it, it's much more than just sport.

The Olympics embodies a unique spirit - one of excellence, perseverance, strength, unity and camaraderie. As the papers aptly put it, winning is not everything, it's about putting your best foot forward wherever you're from. Sometimes I feel this applies to many situations, not just in sport. As long as we've put in our utmost best despite what our circumstances say, I think we can say without a doubt, that we've achieved.

Pardon the contemplative me today...perhaps I'm just feeling much more excited about life than usual...haha! Had a cookie craving earlier this week and hence I made a batch of Oatmeal Cookies. This all started with a not-so-recent trip to Phoon Huat when I spotted a packet of oatmeal going for a real good price. So without hesitating, I grabbed a pack and resolved to make oatmeal cookies one day. With soooo many good oatmeal cookie recipes out there, I was totally spoilt for choice. I've been meaning to try the oatmeal cookie recipes by Sherry Yard and Dorie Greenspan, but after some perusing, I settled on the one by Happy Homebaker, which she highly recommended on her blog. Since the ingredients can all be found in my baking stash, I put these together fairly quickly and easily!

I baked these for a much longer time, around 20 minutes in total at a lower temperature of 175 degrees and they turned out beautiful! Remember to toast the nuts first before you add them in too as it really brings out the nutty flavour. Taste-wise, these cookies are delish! Crunchy yet not too sweet, the perfect "healthy" afternoon snack. Well, to me, no cookies are healthy even though they may taste so...haha. But these cookies does contain less butter and sugar so they can pass off as "healthier choice" cookies!

The recipe can be found here. One more recipe for keeps in my cookie jar!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lemon Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

The past two weeks has been full of ups and downs for me. Many things going through my mind - interests, distractions, possibilities, issues etc. caused me to struggle for clarity of mind. Yesterday, all these came to a standstill. The word was clear, the focus came back - it was so simple. Thank God for placing so many dear people in my life who in one way or another, played a crucial role in bringing clarity back.

Earlier this week was my dad's birthday. Since my family loves mousse cakes, I decided to go with a simple Lemon Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake seen here. I love this blog, her taste is always so refined and classy and the photos are gorgeous.

This cake was pretty easy to put together despite the multiple components. I left out the creme chantilly at the end as I had some problems with it. Mum volunteered to help decorate the cake and I came back to see that she sprinkled rose petals over the top and finished it with a layer of jelly glaze...haha. Though I think they look more like dried cranberries here, I was pleasantly surprised yet amused at her improvisation. Seems like my leftover rose petals from the cookies and macarons came in very useful!

Taste-wise, this was lovely. I like the lemon-chocolate combination that adds a tinge of sourness to the rich dark chocolate flavour. The lemon cream was especially yummy, though I feel it would taste best with French butter instead of the one I used. This is one recipe for keeps. I think I may make it again and try to do it better next time :).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rose Macarons - With White or Dark Chocolate?

Finally, I understand why mac-fanatics do the things they do - churn out tray after tray of macarons in a spectrum of colours with various fillings ranging from ganache to buttercream to jam, curd and mascarpone cheese. It's hard not to get hooked on these delicate treats once you've fallen in love with them. I used to prowl places that make good macarons here, like Canele Patisserie, Obolo and the recently opened Jewel Artisans. But after discovering that my little oven can also churn out these babies, there's no more reason to go unless I'm exploring new flavours.

Since my last try, my mum brought some over to my grandma and relatives' place for them to try. Interestingly, they loved it! Considering that they normally don't fancy sweet desserts, this was a first! Hence, we decided to make another batch and this time I left the choice of flavour to mum. Gave her two options and she took the second one, which was to make Rose Macarons. It wasn't hard to predict or guess as she normally would want me to veer away from chocolate, which I'm practically obsessed over.

This time round, I used the same Italian Meringue recipe and added 3g of rose pink powder colouring. I think I was a little heavy handed as my macarons turned out bright pink! These were a joy to photograph, despite the not-so-cooperative weather (it was raining outside this morning). I also sprinkled some rose petals on the shells before baking them, just for that added romantic touch :). These were then sandwiched with two different ganaches - the first is a rose-flavoured white chocolate ganache, which didn't sit too well with me as I didn't go for the best chocolate I could find, and the second is a dark chocolate ganache made with Varhona Manjari. Trust me, the type of chocolate you use makes a whole world of difference. Don't compromise if you can as the results will be worth it.

Fillings-wise, there's definitely alot more room for improvement. I won't be posting the recipe until I'm happy with it. This means, back to the drawing board for more experimenting. One thing for sure, this won't be the end of my macaron series. There's still the other option which has been on my mind for some time and I can't wait to try it out. I'll leave you with these till then!


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