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Banana Salted Caramel Mascarpone Parfait




This banana salted caramel mascarpone parfait is everything you’re looking for as a party dessert or romantic dessert for two – it has its own visual impact while pleasing your palate to the last bit. It is intricately layered with light mascarpone cream, banana slices, biscuit crumbs, salted caramel, and topped with salted caramel cream and cocoa powder.




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The idea of making this parfait came up more than a month ago, but I was hesitant to make it because I didn’t have (and didn’t want to spend extra money to buy) the glasses that I thought were the best fit for the parfait. Students’ problems. However, for some reasons, I gave in as the urge of making this dessert became irresistbably strong when I was making tiramisu at work. As you can see, the plastic containers that I decided to use surprisingly looked good in the end!

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This mascarpone cream is essentially the cream used for tiramisu – it’s light and airy using just the simplest ingredients for baking. The recipe for the mascarpone cream is not sweet at all so it’s preferable to use riped bananas and, of course, you can go a little bit crazy with the salted caramel drizzles! To me, the key to a heart-winning parfait is having different layers and textures that well complement each other. For this reason, I added biscuit crumbs in the middle layer as the needed crunch among the smooth. Also, just to accentuate the flavours of salted caramel, I mixed it with the remaining mascarpone cream and pipe little cute blobs dusted with cocoa powder on top as the finishing touch. A small reminder: as the cocoa powder absorbs moisture very quickly after dusting, you should only dust it right before serving.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 50g  salted caramel* (to mix with cream)
  • 80g salted caramel (to drizzle)
  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 70g biscuit, crushed
    * I used the Homemade Salted Caramel recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction for this parfait.

Mascarpone cream

  • 350 mascarpone cheese
  • 250g pure cream (semi-whipped)
  • Sabayon:
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 100g caster sugar  
  • Meringue:
    • 2 egg white
    • 35g caster sugar

 

Instructions:

  1. Semi-whip cream and keep it in fridge until ready to use.
  2. Make meringue by whipping egg white and caster sugar until stiff peak. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. While the meringue is whipping. Put and whisk well egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in bowl. Heat the mixture over bain marie while stirring occasionally to 65C. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on high speed to make sabayon (it’s also called the ribbon stage when the egg mixture becomes pale yellow and thick).
  4. Turn to low speed, add mascarpone cheese to sabayon and mix until incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, gently fold in the meringue in 2 times until just incorporated. Then, gently fold in the whipped cream just until the mixture becomes homogeneous.
  6. Reserve 200g of cream in the mixing bowl, transfer the remaining mixture to a piping bag topped with a round nozzle.
  7. Add 50g salted caramel to the mixing bowl, mix with the reserved cream on medium cream until well mixed. Set aside.  

Assemble:

  1. Pipe a layer of mascarpone cream into each mould.
  2. Sprinkle biscuit crumbs.
  3. Arrange a layer of banana slices.
  4. Generously drizzle salted caramel.
  5. Pipe another layer of mascarpone cream until it fllls up the mould.
  6. Smoothen the surface with a palette knife.
  7. Squeeze out any remaining cream from the piping bag, and transfer the salted caramel mascarpone cream into the same piping bag. Pipe cream on top.  
  8. Dust with cocoa powder.

Yum




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Boozy Bite – Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies



Guinness Double Chocolate BrowniesGuinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Another chocolate dessert for you all! These Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies are luxuriously rich and moist, carrying a hint of roasted malt taste from Guinness that intensifies the chocolate flavour of these brownies. If you haven’t noticed, I really like adding alcohol to my desserts for some boozy, delicious treats, and this time I choose to use Guinness – an Irish dry stout that has a distinctive burnt, malty flavour from roasted barley. If you’re interested in alcohol infused desserts, feel free to check out my other posts:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse with Baileys Ladyfingers (topped with chocolate soil)

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

White Wine Poached Pear Almond Tart

Coffee Liqueur Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin

Lemon Curd Limoncello Meringue Éclair

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

As I planned to use this brownie as the base for my Salted Caramel Stuffed Brownie Truffle (recipe coming soon!), I purposely toned down the sweetness of these brownies through using smaller amount of sugar, as well as using chopped dark chocolate that oozes out from the brownies when baked. With the addition of the Guinness, these brownies have a strong malt,  and bittersweet chocolaty finish which I personally love. However, if you have a serious sweet tooth, free feel to adjust the sweetness by adding an extra 50g white sugar to the batter. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll have fun making these delicious brownies for a special occasion! (or anytime really- I mean, who needs a reason to eat brownies?)

Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 200g white sugar
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature  
  • 180ml guinness
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 180g all-purpose flour
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a square or rectangular baking tray and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sieve and add flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, vegetable oil, white sugar, brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the mixing bowl in between if needed. This is will about 5 mins.
  4. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs ( one at a time) and beat until well combined.
  5. Add guinness and vanilla, mix until well combined.
  6. Add the prepared flour and cocoa powder, mix until just incorporated.
  7. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray. Bake for 25 mins or until until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Do not overbake. Set aside to cool. Enjoy!

 
Yum




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Layers of goodness – Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse Sphere (with Coffee Creme Patissiere & White Wine Poached Pear & Crispy Chocolate Base)

This post is all about celebration – about finishing my first basic term @LCB passing all my assessment, about flying to Brisbane in a few days for vacation, and about finally successfully making a mousse sphere for the first time (after contemplating on it for a thousand years). This hazelnut chocolate mousse sphere is my cup of tea, hands down – it marries my favourite flavours into one dessert that tastes absolutely divine. I’ve always wanted to make mousse spheres but I was too scared to, until I recently watched Zumbo’s just dessert which motivated me to be a better “dessert maker”. While I was watching all those amatuer home-bakers produce their eye-opening, beautiful desserts, my heart ached for creating some of my own.

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As I said, this dessert is celebratory, so I decided to apply some of the skills I learnt from school to it. It is also inspired by the Shiny Mirror Glaze Mousse Dome with Crispy Chocolate Base and Ganache Topping created by Cupcake Savvy’s Kitchen. Cutting through the sphere, you get a smooth French hazelnut chocolate mousse, creamy coffee creme patissiere, and a layer of refreshing poached pear that balances the richness & sweetness of chocolate. The dessert’s crunchy texture is provided by a crispy rice puff chocolate base (who doesn’t like indulging him/herself in loads of cocoa rice puffs???), and I finished it off with a shiny chocolate mirror glaze that renders the dessert a sophisticated look. How does that not sound heavenly?

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Special thanks to my friend who made me this stunning board with my baking motto – Simple Ideas, Big Whisks – written on it. <3 hazelnut_mousse_sphere_with_mirror_glaze10

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Realistically speaking, baking at home can be a bit tricky at times because you don’t always get the equipment or tools you need for your recipe. Like this time, I didn’t have a smaller sphere mold for my coffee creme patissiere so I had to carefully spoon it into the large mold, which could create a bit of a problem in terms of even layerings. But well, as as a pastry chef wanna-be, I need to be adaptive and make use of what I’ve got at home. Although the end result isn’t as perfect as I wanted, I am already quite happy with it. Anyway, give this recipe a go – If you are a hard-core chocolate fans, I think you will fall in love with it. Have a good weekend!

Ingredients:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 35 caster sugar
  • 25g nutella

Coffee Creme Patissiere (coffee pastry cream)

  • 150g milk + 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp coffee liqueur
  • 25g egg yolk
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 10g corn flour
  • 10g butter

White Wine Poached Pear

  • 2 fresh pear, cored
  • 300ml white wine
  • 300ml water
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 orange, zest of
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick

Crispy Chocolate Base

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g choco rice puff

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

  • 100g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 40g water
  • 70g double cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water

Instructions:

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Mousse

  1. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate on low heat until melted. Let it cool slightly. Stir in butter and nutella. Set aside.
  2. Using a whisk, lightly beat egg yolks until pale and creamy. Add to the chocolate mixture, mix well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg white until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat egg white to stiff peaks.
  4. Gently stir in the chocolate-egg yolk mixture (in three additions) into the egg whites, mix until no obvious egg white is visible.  
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Coffee Creme Patissiere (coffee pastry cream)

  1. Using a saucepan, heat milk and instant coffee powder over medium heat and bring it to boil.
  2. While the milk is being heated, add egg yolk, sifted corn flour, caster sugar in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk until you can a thick, creamy consistency.
  3. With a steady mixing motion, pour 1/3 of the milk mixture to the egg mix to temper the egg.
  4. Pour the above mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat while whisking vigorously for at least 3 mins, until all starch is cooked. You will know it’s almost ready when it starts to bubble. Continue cooking for 1-2 mins. Remove it from the heat.
  5. Whisk in the butter and coffee liqueur until incorporated.
  6. Pour the custard into a bowl and cover the custard surface with a plastic wrap. This will prevent a skin from forming on top.
  7. Let the custard cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

White Wine Poached Pear

  1. Put all ingredients (except the pears) in a pan.
  2. Peel and core pears, gently poach (NOT boil) pears in syrup.
  3. Cook the pears for about 1 hour until they are soft. Use a stick to test every once in a while to see if the pears are done.
  4. When done, take out the pears from the pan to stop the cooking process.
  5. Cut one poached pear into small cubes, and blend the another one into puree or mash it with a fork. Pour the pear cubes into the puree and mix well. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Crispy Chocolate Base

  1. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate on low heat until melted. Pour the chocolate onto the rice puff and shape the mixture into a 2-cm thick layer.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins, and use a circular cutter that fits the size of the spheres to cut 6 circular bases. Refrigerate until ready to use. (If the base is too hard to cut through, run the cutter in a hot water bath and dry it before usage.)

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

  1. Add gelatin and cold water into a bowl. Stir and set aside until ready to use.
  2. In a saucepan, add sugar, cocoa powder, water and cream. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to boil while stirring continuously. Cook for about 2 mins until the mixture is smooth and no lump is visible.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the gelatin mix and stir well.
  5. Set aside and let cool to at least 35 C for usage.

Assembly

  1. Put the hazelnut chocolate mousse into the mold. Smoothen out the surface with a spoon until you can an even layer as the outer layer of the sphere. Freeze for 15 mins.
  2. Then, put the coffee creme patissiere in the mold. Freeze for 15 mins.
  3. Then, pour the pear mixture into the mold. Leave some space for the next step of closing the sphere with the hazelnut chocolate mousse. Freeze for 15 mins.
  4. Then, close all the spheres with a thin layer of the hazelnut chocolate mousse. Smoothen the surface with a off-set spatula. Freeze for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight to let it set completely.
  5. Carefully push the spheres out of the mold and put them on to a cooling rack. Pour the mirror glaze (at 35 C). Set it set. And put the glazed sphere on to the circular chocolate base.
  6. Sprinkle some chopped hazelnut on top as decorations.

Yum




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Zuger Kirschtorte with a raspberry twist (with review of the 1st week of final practical assessment @LCB)



Hello again, I’m quite excited about this post because I just had my first practical assessment week and I could do a little review (YAYY!!). One major part of this week’s assessment is making French puff pastry, which was needed to make vol-au-vent, bouchee, and palmier. Learning to make puff pastry myself was quite a journey; yes, it is a long and technical process but hey, it’s actually very fun and rewarding when you see the result. Although I still panicked everytime I used the dough sheeter ( the chance of dropping the pastry on the ground is so high, well at least for me, if you don’t pay enough attention), I successfully produced puff pastry products that rose beautifully and were flaky and buttery :). Sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of them as I was too preoccupied that day.

Other assessment items for the week include linzer torte, baklava, coffee eclairs and fruit flan. I didn’t get to practise on linzer torte because I got sick last week; luckily, it was a rather straightforward dessert with an elegant look. Also, we had to make baklava, a rich buttery dessert made of layers of filo pastry filled with grinded nuts soaked with syrup. I wasn’t a big fan of baklava as I found it too heavy when I first tasted it a few weeks back then, but I realised that it tasted so much better when served cool/cold.

Linzer Torte

Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 3

Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 6

Coffee eclairs and fruit flan were the last assessment items for this week. As we did a lot of mise en place the day before (i.e. pastry cream and sweet pastry dough), it was the most relaxing day among all. When I made my eclairs yesterday, my choux pastry got too liquidy as I added too much egg. So I had to quickly make another choux pastry without falling behind my schedule too much. Luckily I got back on track and got to finish and present my items on time. What a relief!

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At this point, you may wonder what we will be mainly making for our final assessment next monday. It’s Zuger Kirschtorte. Zuger Kirschtorte is a traditional layer cake from Switzerland with layered with japonaise (almond-meringue),  kirschwasser flavoured génoise  sponge, and buttercream. Normally, the outer layer of the cake is coated with flaked almond as well. I absolutely love this cake because of its intricate complexity – it is layered with various elements working together to create beautiful textures and flavour combinations.

Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 5

For the recipe I am sharing here*, it holds the essence of the cake with a raspberry twist. I decided to incorporate raspberry to the cake for three reasons. Firstly, the buttercream has to be pink for the final assessment, maybe for aesthetic reasons (?), so I reckon raspberry would be a good choice to fit the color. Secondly, the tangy and sweet flavours of raspberry would complement the richness of buttercream perfectly. Thirdly, they look so damn good as decoration no? This cake is perfect for celebration, especially when it’s in this ridiculously adorable pink color haha. Finger crossed that I can successfully finish making this cake next monday! Enjoy the weekend 🙂

*Recipe and Instructions given are adapted from those provided by Le Cordon Bleu.Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 2

Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 4Zuger Kirsch Torte (with raspberry twist) 1

Génoise  sponge

Ingredients:

 

  • 100g whole eggs, room temperature
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 65g plain flour
  • 20g melted butter

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Preheat oven at 190C.
  2. Grease and line a 6 inch pan.
  3. Using an electric mixter, mix eggs, vanilla, and sugar on medium speed until thick and pale (or ribbon stage is reached).
  4. Fold in sifted flour and melted butter alternatively. Gently mix until no flour is visible.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
  6. Bake at 190C for 15-18 mins until golden brown, or when a skewer inserted into the cake’s centre comes out clean. Let cool and unmold the cake. Cut a slice of the cake (around 2 cm thick) with a serrated knife; set aside.

 

Japonaise

Ingredients:

 

  • 95g egg whites
  • 60g caster sugar
  • pinch of cream of tar tar
  • 20g corn flour, sifted
  • 95g ground almond
  • 70g caster sugar

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Preheat oven at 170C.
  2. Using an electric mixer (make sure the whisk and bowl are oil-free), beat egg whites and cream of tar tar on high speed until stiff. Gradually add in sugar and mix for another 2 mins.
  3. Mix corn flour, ground almond, and caster sugar in a bowl. These are your dry ingredients; set aside.
  4. Fold in half of the egg white mix to the dry ingredients. Mix gently.
  5. Add the remaining egg white mix and gently blend until just incorporated. Important: be as gentle as you can in this step. Don’t overmix to avoid the mixture from becoming too thin.Put the batter into a piping bag with a plain round nozzle. Pipe two 6 inch discs onto silicone paper.
  6. Bake at 170C for 20-25 mins until golden brown.

 

Kirsch syrup

Ingredients:

 

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g water
  • 30ml kirsch

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Bring the sugar and water to the boil.
  2. When cooled, add the Kirsch.

 

Raspberry vanilla italian buttercream

Ingredients:

 

  • 160g caster sugar
  • 40ml water
  • 100g egg white
  • 250g unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped to small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
  • few drops of red food coloring

 

Instructions:

 

  • In a medium pot, boil sugar and water.
  • When syrup reaches 110 C, start whisking egg whites with an electic mixer on high speed.
  • When syrup reaches 118C, add syrup in a fast stream (be careful with the hot syrup!) to the egg whites. Continue whisking until the mixture is light and cooled to room temperature.
  • Add butter to the italian meringue piece by piece. Add raspberry jam. Continue mixing until no butter cubes are visible, and the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
  • Set aside for frosting.

 

Homemade raspberry jam (can substitute store-bought jam):

Ingredients:

 

  • 125g fresh raspberry
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

 

Instructions:

 

  • Bring sugar and raspberries in a saucepan on high heat for around 2 mins until all sugar has dissolved. Mash raspberries with a fork as you go.
  • Turn to medium heat, continue to cook the jam until it’s thickened enough to your liking.
  • Turn off heat. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  • Transfer the jam into airtight jar for later use.

 

Assembly

  • Assemble gateau using two discs of japonaise sandwiched with raspberry jam, buttercream and Genoise sponge soaked with kirsch syrup.

In other words,

 

  1. Firstly put a disc of japonaise as the cake base.
  2. Then, pipe 1 cm thick of italian buttercream. Spread raspberry jam on top of italian buttercream.
  3. Add the sponge cake. Generously brush the kirsch syrup onto the sponge cake until it’s well soaked.
  4. Repeat step 2.
  5. Put the 2nd disc of japonaise on top of the sponge cake.
  6. Frost the cake with italian buttercream and decorate it with garnishes to your liking.

 

Choice of garnish

 

  • Flaked almond
  • Fresh raspberry
  • Chopped roasted pistachios

 

 Yum




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