I will…I can ! Earl Grey-Milk Chocolate and Lemon Mousse Duo

‘As I see it. . . .
I can and I will
Everyday I tell myself that I can and I will.
I find the reasons why I can and why I will succeed.
I paint the vision of my future in my mind and I can see myself standing in the winners circle.
My success starts in my mind and I make it happen as I see it in my visions.’
-Lou Ludwig

That was my healthy dose of optimism for you!

There are days when I rely heavily on some borrowed positivity to get my act together. For a person who once took pride in being determined, planned and organised with everything, life is anything but ‘organised’ at the moment. Life with two young kids can be demanding. And leave you exhausted.

On reminiscing I often wonder where all the “I wills’ of my willpower have disappeared. Funny how situations can transform you. How easy is it for any of us to get knocked down by life at times? But the good news is that I am not done with them yet. The ‘I will-s’ have been replaced with “I can-s’.

Those who have been reading my posts would know by now my weakness for desserts especially cold ones. Mousse comes right at the top of my list of ‘things that make my day’. And this duo has been on my mind for days. I have made them many times individually or in a combination with other flavours. Chocolate and lemon admittedly are not my ‘to die for’ combo. But the addition of Bergamot from the Earl Grey balances it out beautifully. Dark chocolate could be overpowering so I used milk chocolate.

In other news, the kids are excited. Daddy is back tomorrow after a long travel. A huge relief for the family. All are going to benefit from this including you. Maybe I can throw in a few more sweet treats for you here and there.

I can…I can..I CAN!

What that means is i am still somewhere on that track. If i am not running, I am still walking.

Hey…’I can’ rocks!

 



Earl Grey- Milk Chocolate and Lemon Mousse

Serves 4

Earl Grey-Milk Chocolate Mousse

3 Egg Yolks
¼ Cup Sugar(or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup heavy cream for the custard (Crème Anglaise)
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/2 Cup Milk chocolate chopped or broken into cubes
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
¾ Cup Heavy Cream for whipping

Heat the ½ cup cream with the Earl Grey teabag in a saucepan. Beat the egg yolks,sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl. When the cream reaches boiling point take it off the heat and let the flavours infuse for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bag, add the gelatine, reheat the cream till warm and slowly pour it over the egg mixture whisking constantly. Return the egg-cream mixture to the pan.
Heat the mixture under a medium-low flame, whisking constantly till the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Place the milk chocolate in a bowl. Remove the custard from heat and pass it through a sieve into the bowl of chocolate. Let the mixture remain undisturbed for a while. Stir to smoothen out the chocolate. Cool to room temperature.
While the custard is cooling, whip the remaining ¾ cup cream to stiff peaks. Store in the refrigerator till needed.
When the chocolate mixture has cooled down completely add it to the whipped cream gradually & fold in till no white streaks appear. Pour into serving glasses till half full. Refrigerate till set, about 4 hours or longer.
Lemon Mousse
3/4 cup lemon curd, cold (recipe below)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Cup whipping cream
 
Whisk the cream and sugar together till you reach soft peaks. Fold in the lemon curd slowly. Pour into the serving glasses on top of the Earl grey-milk chocolate mousse. Refrigerate till set, about 4 hours.
Note: to get a stronger flavour of lemon mousse increase the lemon curd by half a cup more. I did not want the lemon flavour to be too strong in the mousse.
 
Lemon Curd
 
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (150gms) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (4 gms) finely shredded lemon zest
 
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended. Cook stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate for up to a week.
 
To serve: Decorate with meringue and/or piped chocolate or a dusting of cocoa powder.
 


 

 

 


 

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Big Sisters and Little Brothers. And Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting.

Many years ago, I met a little boy. He had an angelic face with the cutest curls around them, eyes that told stories of twinkling stars and a smile that could melt the strongest of hearts. Like most little boys, he adored everything with wheels. Toy cars, big cars and makeshift cars (the ones that are generally meant to carry belongings but at times can carry a toddler or two…Suitcases).

I told him stories at bedtime, made him laugh during the day with faces and expressions that only we could read, filled up his stockings with little presents during Christmas Eve and made him cry when he played with my dolls.
We walked together a zillion roads, his fingers tightly clutching mine. Till one day he became the ‘cool guy’. Cool guys don’t hold hands. He morphed into a teenager. Fiercely independent..with an understanding of the world that was so rare of his age..who kept a lot to himself but was always ready to offer a lending a hand. Under the pretext of doing homework we spent many afternoons together, sharing secrets, cracking jokes, hiding behind windows and spraying water on innocent passersby and sneaking into the kitchen to do the ‘great taste test’ for dishes that were meant to be served to guests. Needless to say there were other days when we drove each other crazy and fought over every little thing under the sun. My heart aches to think that those moments can never come back.

Before we realised, the spirited teenager grew into a handsome man with a heart of gold. The responsible son, the doting brother…wise, quick witted, generous, loving…and set out to conquer the world. He made our hearts swell up with pride as he went on achieving milestones. He found himself a partner, equally spirited and loving. A beautiful addition to the family.

I made these cupcakes for my brother’s birthday back in January.While going through a few folders on the laptop, i found these bright pictures during the weekend. I thought they were decent enough to post though very few. I could have taken more had i known I would have a blog someday.
A simple chocolate cupcake made extra chocolaty with the addition of chocolate chips. The frosting is gorgeous.

I did not bake a cake as he was not around to eat it. My brother lives on the other side of the world where the sun sets as it rises here in Sydney. Perhaps he will be here on one of his birthdays to perform the ‘great taste test’ with me.
But our hearts are ever so close and securely fastened with a bond called family. A bond that celebrates childhood, big dreams, secrets and adventures. A bond that lives outside the touch of time.

A bond unique to a Big Sister and her Little Brother.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting (adapted with a small variation from Joy of Baking)

Chocolate Cupcakes
Yields 16

1/2 cup (50 gms) dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
11/3 cups (175 gms) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (113 gms) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 gms) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling water and cocoa powder. let cool to room temperature. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips.
Then in the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will come out dry). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a small spatula or pipe lovely swirls.
These cupcakes are best the day they are made but can be stored for a few days.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

120 gms unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (150 gms) unsalted butter, room temperature
11/3 cups (160 gms) icing sugar sifted
11/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy(about 1 min). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy(about 2 min). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2-3 min).

 

If its a Sticky Date Pudding it has to be sticky!

This morning as I was cleaning my refrigerator I found myself conflicted. There were bits of this and that everywhere. Egg whites, egg yolks, a cup of lemon curd, some ganache, dates, nuts, shortcrust pastry and a lot of others. I gave my brains a workout and it came up with a world of possibilities all of which were cold. Not surprising! Normally I wouldn’t want to waste a second once i make a decision especially if the outcome excites me. But today was different. The younger twin contracted an infection 3 days ago and has been down with fever and cold ever since.
 
Naturally, i had to make a warm dessert. Something I myself would enjoy during minimal taste sensations. No chocolate this time though.

Before I come to the dessert, there is something else I wanted to convey. Since I write so often about my boys, for the sake of blog identity henceforth I will refer to them as Twin 1 and Twin 2. I don’t feel I am justified in calling them older and younger. And incidentally that is how they were addressed after birth for hospital and immunisation records before they had a name.
Lets talk pudding now. There are two parts to my association with Sticky Date Pudding. Before Australia and after Australia. There were a few recipes I followed before moving to Australia which were alright back then. After I ate it at a cafe in Sydney slathered with sauce and downright delicious, I realised that my puddings were not sticky enough. What! It was a Sticky Date Pudding after all. It had to be sticky. 
That one was stuck in my head for a fact.

I kept looking for the perfect recipe that would be close to the one I had till i found till one. The butterscotch sauce is what makes the difference. I have made this on a number of occasions and I love the simplicity of the recipe. Make it for your guests and try to stop them from licking the plates. At least don’t risk inviting me over.

The boys joined me in the kitchen. Twin 1 counted the dates while Twin 2 whisked the batter with utmost care. Before we realised the puddings were happily rising in the oven as we waited impatiently trying to save some of the butterscotch sauce. Most of it disappeared before the puddings came out. It was a lot of fun.
A day that started with coughs, sneezes, gloomy faces ended on a delicious note between snuggles, cuddles, mischievous grins and a good deal of spoon licking. Such is the magic of food when made and shared together.
 
 The puddings were for my little boys and the praline for the blog.
I did tell you that I am mothering a new responsibility lately…didn’t I?
 
Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and Almond Praline (Adapted from the Masterchef Australia Cookbook)
Makes 8
180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups (310ml) water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
60g butter, softened chopped
2 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour               
Almond praline
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (35g) slivered almonds               
Butterscotch sauce
50g butter
1 cup (220g) brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan-forced). Lightly grease eight (1/2 cup capacity) metal dariole moulds. Place dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Remove from the heat. Add bicarbonate of soda, stir until dates start to break down, set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.               
Beat butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand beater, gradually add eggs one at a time, beat until light and fluffy. Add date mixture, stir to combine. Carefully fold through sifted flour, divide mixture evenly between the eight moulds, until 2/3 full.
Place moulds in a baking tray, carefully pour water in tray until it comes up 1/3 of the sides of the mould. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden and skewer comes out clean.
Meanwhile for the almond praline, combine sugar and 2 tbsp water in a saucepan and cook caramel over medium heat without stirring, swirling pan until deep golden. Scatter almonds onto a baking paper lined tray. Pour caramel and cool until set. Break praline into pieces.
For the butterscotch sauce combine butter, sugar, cream and vanilla extract in a saucepan over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.  
To serve, invert the hot pudding onto a serving plate, top with butterscotch sauce and shards of praline.

             

 

 

Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta with Mango,Blackberries and Candied Lime Leaves. And a confession!

I wanted to let you in on a little secret.
I have this ridiculous urge to look at everything with pastry eyes! What I mean by that is quite often when I come across a food item or ingredient..herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits..anything. I start to imagine how it would turn out mixed with sugar, whisked with eggs, added to cream, baked, frozen, torched, candied and so on. Until lately I thought this was weird. And people around me thought I was ‘stressed out’ and ‘needed a break’.

A Thai lunch and I was all about Kaffir Lime. Not that this was the first time Kaffir Lime had caught my attention. Before this I was probably paying more attention to something else..Lemongrass I think. I enjoyed the dish I was eating but I enjoyed thinking about the little experiments that I was going to carry out more.

‘This is so good’ one of my friends remarked between mouthfuls of Thai curry.

Oh yes, it is..imagine pairing it with mango…I smiled at myself.

‘I had something similar in ABC restaurant but this one is better’ another one spoke out.

It will be great in a Panna Cotta. And blackberries..lovely…white, yellow, black…i was already planning.

I looked at the watch. 1.10 pm…just enough time to go back home, get the kids to nap and run to the Asian Market to get hold of Kaffir Lime leaves and create something.

  That is exactly what I did. Kaffir lime…I had to get some…I NEED Kaffir lime, I told myself. This word ‘NEED’ is more than familiar to me at the moment. Apparently, it has assumed a place of great significance in my little boy’s life and vocabulary (the older twin..to be precise 38 seconds older). He does not ‘like’ or ‘want’ things. He NEEDS them. How well I can trace it back to his genes.

I spent the afternoon at the market and later in my kitchen. The Panna Cotta was exactly the way I had imagined it to be. Light, refreshing, fragrant with a distinct taste of Kaffir Lime. While they were setting up, i made the candied lime leaves.

All this while I have questioned my sanity, my thrill at spending hours at a fruit market, the ability to bake a cake at 2 am after a tiring day with two preschoolers, my obsession with food. But not anymore. I am not alone. Ever since I started this little blog, I am coming across people every day who eat, sleep and breathe ingredients..who live flavours..rejoice and celebrate food. This is my place…this is my world. This is where I belong…where I  have always belonged. I no longer do things that I have to do..but things that bring me joy. It is all making perfect sense to me now..I feel liberated. Every day is exciting…every moment is beautiful.

This is my world…bright, brilliant, beautiful…of Sugar…et al..

 

Kaffir Lime Panna Cotta with Mango and Blackberries
Yields 4-5

11/2 cups Single cream
11/2 Cups Milk
1/2 cup castor sugar
6 kaffir lime leaves finely shredded
2 tsp powdered gelatine
2 tablespoon warm water.
1 mango, sliced
1/2 cup blackberries

Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine. Set aside till it blooms i.e absorbed all the water. Heat the cream over medium heat in a saucepan and add the lime leaves. Bring it to a boil and then remove from heat. Let infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture to remove the leaves. Put the infused cream, milk and sugar back in the saucepan and heat gently. Add the gelatine and stir to dissolve.

Remove from heat once the mixture begins to boil and let cool to room temperature. Pour into serving glasses and refrigerate till set. About 4-5 hours. Before serving top with sliced mangoes and blackberries. I mascerated the sliced mangoes in 1 tsp sugar to release its juices.

Candied Kaffir Lime leaves
1 egg white
1/2 cup castor sugar
5-6 Kaffir lime leaves

Whisk the egg white till frothy. Place the sugar on a plate. Line a baking tray or plate with baking paper. Dip each leaf into the egg white and hold it by the tip till the excess falls out. Dip it again into the sugar till it is evenly coated. Dust off excess sugar. Place the leaves on the parchment paper to dry. About 2 hours later turn the leaves around for the other side (the one which was not exposed)to dry. They become hard when dried.

Embracing Green. Indian Herbed Chicken Skewers and Spiced Onion Jam

Ever since my last act of chocolate indulgence few days ago, I am finding solace in green. I have jumped on the weighing scale every day waiting for the ugly truth to unfold but for once i have to say it has let me down…in a positive way. The last of the little spikey monster has survived the weekend and i am trying my best to avoid eye contact each time i open the refrigerator. The weather has been looking up too, in contrast to the dark wet week that was. And that is also showing on the bright faces at home who love nothing more than the outdoors. All in all, a good week.

Speaking of greens, this is one of my favourite healthy recipes usually following a guilt trip when I am a little tired of eating salad. But actually guilt or no guilt, this is a must try if you wanted to make an easy, no fuss Indian dish. The chicken is moist and packed with herby goodness, not to mention the wonderful aromas that emanate when you are baking it. Tikkas or Kababs, as they are popularly called in India, form a part of every restaurant menu, big or small. My version is a bit more simpler and oil free.

Onions are an integral part of Indian cooking, so leaving it out completely almost makes you want to compensate its absence in a dish. In fact, in many Indian households they take precedence over herbs as garnishes.

 

The spiced onion jam compliments the flavours of the chicken beautifully. I have married the ingredients and techniques of an onion jam with that of a traditional Indian chutney to create this recipie. And ah..was I pleased with the end result…very pleased indeed!
Most onion jam recipes call for red onions but I have used both red and brown as I personally like the flavour that the brown ones add to the dish.

 

Serve them as skewers with a salad and a few lemon wedges. Leave out the onion jam if you want to stick to what the post intended to convey…healthy!

Did you say you like pretty plates…like me?


 
 Herbed Chicken Skewers
Yields 5-6 skewers

400 g chicken skinless thigh fillet cubed
11/2 tbsp garlic paste
11/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
2 green chillies (optional)
1/2 cup thick yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp chaat masala (optional, available in Indian grocery stores)
Salt to taste
5-6 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 mins

Prepare the marinade. Grind the ginger, garlic, coriander, mint and green chillies to a smooth paste in a food processor. Pour the mix into a large bowl and add the yogurt. Add the cubed chicken and spices, salt and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours for the flavours to blend together.
Preheat oven to 200 C
Thread the chicken onto skewers. Place the skewers horizontally on the edges of rimmed baking dish with a foil underneath to catch the drippings. (See pic) I had run out of foil so had some extra cleaning to do. Cook the chicken on the grill mode turning once after 10 mins till evenly browned and tender about 20-25 mins. Sprinkle chaat masala when out of the oven.
Serve with spiced onion jam, lemon wedges and salad.

Spiced Onion Jam
Yields about a cup


2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium yellow/brown onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies(optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp salt or to taste

Melt butter in a pan. Add the mustard, cumin and red chillies and cook till they splutter (about 1 min).Add the onions and cook till they soften(about 5 mins). Add the brown sugar and vinegars and reduce the mixture till it darkens and becomes a thick consistency. Add in the cumin powder. Add salt as per taste.

 

A Chocolate craving ! Double Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle and Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse

I have been craving chocolate…craving for a while now. Not a bar or two. Not even a cake or an ice cream. A wicked craving. Shut myself away from the world, sitting with knees folded on the couch, my favourite music playing in the background, a rich..luscious..sinful dessert in my hands, savoring each mouthful.

I have been trying to put away this chocolate hankering for a long time now…saving it for the orange hued months that are to follow. I can only blame it on summer…I have been trying too hard to take advantage of the beautiful summer fruits. It almost saddens me to think that summer is officially over. Berries..no berries.. 

A little note from a cousin along similar lines was enough to ignite the fire..or should  I say an explosion. Before I could gather my thoughts together, I was weighing, whisking, stirring, piping with a vengeance. A self-proclaimed Pastry chef and Chocolate..its a bittersweet symbiotic relationship.

Dark, milk or white…I debated for a while. Then I decided to go with all three. Unsure of what the final dessert would be, I baked the brownie bases in ramekins. White chocolate is not really a favourite in its regular form but caramelized white chocolate..I could kill for that one. It is a simple technique but patience is the key. You need to be cooking it at a low temperature, checking the oven every 10 minutes till the white turns to the colour of Peanut butter. It is, I think, the most gorgeous and delicious thing on Earth…tastes and looks almost like Dulce de Leche.

One cup of caramelized white chocolate..sent my mind racing in all directions. I decided it has to be a mousse.

Quite pleased with myself, I started to think about a little surprise hiding between the brownie and the mousse. Finally I made a quick ganache and spooned out truffles.

While the mousse and truffles were setting up in the refrigerator, I baked a batch of doughnuts to use the white chocolate as a glaze. I was in a frenzy…an overpowering chocolate madness. The colour of the glaze was almost identical to the colour of the doughnuts which I was not too happy with. So out came more dark chocolate to drizzle. I will post the recipe of baked doughnuts with the caramelised white chocolate on another day.

 

By the end of it, I was so drained…physically and emotionally. Too much chocolate to deal with on one day. But that was the story behind creating it. I was so looking forward to assembling it. I love piping…there were days when I piped on the entire kitchen counter to practise and perfect the art.

And..then the much awaited moment. Time to reap the rewards of my labour.
Shut myself away from the world, sitting with knees folded on the couch,my favourite music playing in the background, a rich..luscious..sinful dessert in my hands, savouring each mouthful.

 

Brownies, Truffles, Mousse, Doughnuts..and a little left over gorgeous Caramelised White Chocolate. I am in Chocolate Heaven right now !

 

Double Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle and Caramelized White Chocolate Dessert

Double Chocolate Brownie (adapted from here)

Yields 4-5 brownies baked in ramekins

227 g semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a small saucepan or a bowl in the microwave, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat. Stir until smooth and if you used a pot, pour into a bowl.

Stir in the sugar, vanilla and eggs; blend well. Add the flour, cocoa and salt and stir just until blended.

Spoon the batter into buttered ramekins, filling them about half. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. (A toothpick inserted will come out with lots of moist crumbs sticking to it.) Cool completely before removing from the pan.

Once completely cooled cut out the tops to get a even surface. Then refrigerate till needed.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Yields 6-7 truffles

I halved the recipe from Joy of Baking and included whole and chopped toasted Hazelnuts.

50 g Dark chocolate
60 g Milk Chocolate
60 ml (about 1/4 cup) whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into small pieces
6-7 whole toasted hazelnuts.
1 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts or any nut of your choice for coating.

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a minute or two. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or over a saucepan of simmering water,just until melted). Cover and place in refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm.(This may take several hours).

Place the chopped nuts for coating on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, a small ice cream scoop, a melon baller or a small spoon drop 3/4 inch mounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place one hazelnut in the centre of each mound and roll mounds into smooth balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the chopped hazelnut coating and place them back on the baking sheet. Cover and place in the refrigerator till firm. Bring them to room temperature before serving.

Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4-5

I followed David Lebovitz technique for caramelising the white chocolate. The process has been explained very well and produces consistent results every time. Recipe here. Yields about a cup.

3 Egg Yolks
¼ Cup Sugar(or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup heavy cream for the custard (Crème Anglaise)
5 tablespoons of the caramelised white chocolate
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
¾ Cup Heavy Cream for whipping

Heat the ½ cup cream and caramelised white chocolate in a saucepan. Beat the egg yolks,sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl. When the cream reaches boiling point take it off the heat and slowly pour it over the egg mixture whisking constantly. Return the egg-cream mixture to the pan.

Heat the mixture under a medium-low flame, whisking constantly till the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and pass it through a sieve into another bowl. Cool to room temperature.

While the custard is cooling, whip the remaining ¾ cup cream to stiff peaks. Store in the refrigerator till needed.

When the chocolate mixture has cooled down completely add it to the whipped cream gradually & fold in till no white streaks appear. Refrigerate till set, about 4 hours or longer.

To Assemble
Place a chocolate truffle in the centre of a brownie base. Fill up a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip with the caramelised white chocolate. Pipe all around the truffle centre. Dust with cocoa powder. Refrigerate till set

When life gives you apples…and a tree. Apple Blackberry Cake, Fish Tacos and a Parsnip Apple Soup.

Have you ever experienced Nature at such close range that it almost becomes overwhelming..in a comforting sort of way? Walked on a carpet painted red by none but Nature itself? Tasted a juicy, sun-ripened fruit picked straight off the tree?

I have not…..

 Until now..

 A drive to the beautiful countryside with breathtaking views. Signs of an approaching autumn. A lovely weekend afternoon spent in the company of good friends, lots of sunshine and …apple trees. The kids danced with joy, running through the orchard. They set themselves to work, plucking apples and racing back to show their precious little pick. We loved their enthusiasm.


I am over the moon as I share some sweet news with you. We are now the owner of an apple tree. Sounds weird..? Its true! We adopted our little tree.. a  small step to support the Australian farmers, our way of acknowledging our gratitude for food and where it comes from.. Most importantly we did it for the boys…to teach them to appreciate God’s beautiful creation, to learn to care for the environment. Apple lovers, you are now assured of a number of of apple recipes coming your way in forthcoming posts.

I knew what I was going to bake that evening.



A apple and blackberry cake has been on my mind for a while. I couldn’t have got a better opportunity than this.

We had a Parsnip and Apple soup and Fish Tacos with Apple and Avocado salsa for dinner. Light and easy.

The soup is our current favourite. The earthy flavor of parsnip along with the tart- sweet apple makes a lovely pairing. Plus onion, garlic..cannot go wrong. Some fresh chives and cinnamon croutons. A hearty comforting dish to sit together and enjoy.
I did think of a carrot, ginger, apple soup. But I would be accused of posting ginger recipes every time. I hope to post that soon for another wonderful variation.


The fish tacos were easy to put together. A few spices, red chillis and lime. I love Mexican food but am not a fan of Guacamole. In fact I don’t like anything that is mashed up. I enjoy having food with different textures hence a avocado-apple salsa sounded great. And tasted great too. Spicy fish..a sweet-sour salsa..a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

The kids kept talking about the apple trees till they fell asleep while I went through the pictures over and over again. I wanted to pick up the phone and call family and friends to share our beautiful experience. But then i realised, they could live the entire experience on the blog. Yes, I am a blogger now..and a proud one.

Sometimes, simple things in life bring you the biggest pleasures. 
Apple tree, I can’t wait to go back to you!


Apple-Blackberry Cake (adapted with a slight variation from Martha Stewart)
Yields a 8 inch round cake

Granulated sugar, for pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 apples (I used Red delicious), peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1 cup blackberries
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Butter a 8-inch springform pan, and dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, the milk, and eggs in another bowl. Whisk into flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Arrange apple wedges over batter, and sprinkle with blackberries. Gently press fruit into batter. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle over fruit. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until top is dark gold, apples are tender, and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool. Serve with whipped cream if desired
Parsnip and Apple Soup
Serves 4
3 medium Parsnips
1 tart-sweet apple
1/2 Onion
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoon Butter
750 ml milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup single cream
Salt
Ground white pepper
To serve
Fresh chopped chives
Cinnamon croutons (recipe below)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Peel and quarter the parsnips, ensuring you remove any woody centres. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, then peel, core and quarter the apples.Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan until it starts to foam. Add the onions and garlic and cook gently without browning for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsnips and apples and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes .
Pour in the milk to cover the ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the parsnips are tender.
Remove the parsnip and apple soup from the heat and pour in the cream
Purée the parsnip and apple soup in a liquidizer, then pass it through a fine sieve. Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese,chives and Cinnamon croutons. Add a dash of olive oil.
Cinnamon Croutons
2 slices wholegrain bread
1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Slice the bread into cubes, drizzle with cinnamon and olive oil. Toast in the oven.