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Chili Chocolate Tart

If you’re a chocolate lover, you would always crave a perfect chocolate tart that reminds you of why you ARE CRAZYYY about chocolate in the first place – This Chili Chocolate Tart is IT. It is simple, decadent, and rich in chocolate flavours with a slight kick of chilli. It has a tender chocolate sweet pastry filled with chili chocolate custard filling, finishing off with a shiny cocoa gaze and chocolate shards. The taste of chili is very subtle in this recipe as I personally can’t take spicy very well. However, If you aren’t a big fan of chili, simply substitute it with dark chocolate and it will work just fine!

Chili Chocolate Tart

Chili Chocolate Tart

Chilli Chocolate Tart3.jpg

Chilli Chocolate Tart

I don’t know about you but I have a thing for tarts. As simple as they look, there’s actually so much knowledge, hard work and effort behind to achieve a satisfying result. This is why the sense of accomplishment of finishing a gorgeous tart can be overwhelming (for me).

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Chilli Chocolate Tart2

In this post, I am going to tell you the tips of making the best chocolate tart in the simplest way!

    1. Use a food processor (no mess) 
      I was taught various ways of making sweet pastry i.e. cutting method, creamy method etc, but here I want to show you the easier way without getting your hand dirty – using a food processor. All you have to do is to process COLD butter cubes with dry ingredients until fine crumbs, then add in the egg and process until a smooth dough is formed. There’s minimum handling of the dough and you can avoid developing too much gluten in the dough, hence avoid pastry shrinkage when baked.

 

    1. Rest the sweet pastry dough (no shrinkage)
      One thing that you must have heard when it comes to tarts making is REST THE DOUGH. The reason is that when you need to give time for the gluten that was formed during the dough making process to relax. When making this tart, you will be resting the pastry twice – first, to rest it in a rectangular flat form wrapped by plastic in refrigerator for at least 30 mins before rolling the pastry out for lining; second, to rest the pastry lined in tart rings in refrigerator for another 30 mins to relax the gluten formed during the rolling process. Relaxed gluten won’t shrink as badly (sometimes doesn’t shrink at all) during baking, and you will have a more tender and consistent sweet pastry.
    2. Use a non-stick perforated baking mat when blind baking (no baking beans needed!)
      Have you ever experienced the frustration that even if you have poked thousands of holes in the sweet pastry and even putting baking beans on, your pastry still annoyingly puff up a lot in the oven? Here is the solution for you – use a non-stick perforated baking mat. These perforated mats are amazing that they allow air to escape underneath the pastry and provide optimal destruction of heat. They give a much more consistent baking result and that’s why people are using it for baking a lot of items such as tarts, short bread cookies, macarons etc.
    3. Bake the custard filling at low temperature 
      I know we all love ganache, I mean who doesn’t? But sometimes pure ganache filling can be too heavy as a filling. For my chocolate tart, I used a chocolate custard filling recipe that is slightly different from ganache due to the addition of eggs and milk. The eggs and milk sort of “lighten up” the ganache and make it custard-like. However if you want a smooth finish of the custard filling, you have to bake it at low temperature (120C). I baked my filling at 120C for 10mins and there were no cracks on the surface at all as the filling was cooked slowly and evenly.

 

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Ingredients:

Chocolate Sweet Pastry

  • 240g all purpose flour
  • 95g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder (I used Callebautchocolate ‘s cocoa powder)
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 50g whole eggs (around 1 egg)

Chilli Chocolate Custard Filling 

  • 180g pure cream
  • 180g Lindt’s chili chocolate (break into small pieces)
  • 15g butter
  • 40g eggs
  • 40g cold milk

Cocoa glaze

  • 70g water
  • 65g sugar
  • 20g neutral glaze
  • 8g glucose
  • 30g cream
  • 15g cocoa powder (I used Callebautchocolate ‘s cocoa powder)
  • 1.5 gelatine sheet (titanium)
  • 40ml water

Instructions:

Make the Chocolate Sweet Pastry , put all purpose flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder, salt and cold butter cubes into a food processor (handle with care and never put your hand near the blade when the machine is on), process on medium speed until fine crumbs. Add in the egg and process on medium speed until a smooth dough is formed. Put the dough on your working surface dusted with flour, flatten it with your hand and shape into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.

After the resting time, flour your working surface and roll out your dough into 3mm. During the rolling process, you have to move the pastry around constantly and dust flour underneath the dough to ensure that the dough is not sticking to the bench. Poke holes into the pastries evenly with a fork and use a circular cutter to cut out circles that are around 3 cm bigger than the base of your tart rings. Fit the pastry into your tart ring and ensure to check if nice edges are formed at the base. Use a knife to cut off the excess pastry hanging out of the tart rings. Put the tart rings onto a perforated baking mat and rest in the refrigerator for 30 mins. Preheat your oven to 180C.

After the second resting time, bake the tart shells for 10mins. Take out from the oven, let cool slightly, and remove the tart rings carefully.  Brings the oven temperature down to 120C.

Make the Chilli Chocolate Custard Fillingput chocolate pieces into a mixing bowl and set aside. Meanwhile. bring cream to a boil in a sauce pan, immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for one min, then stir with a whisk until completely melted. Stir in the butter butter and and stir until melted. Add in cold milk , then egg into the ganache. Mix with a whisk until just incorporated. Fill the tart shells with the custard filling until it’s just 4mm away from the tart shell top edge. Bake at 120C for 10mins. Let cool in room temperature for 10 mins then put in refrigerator while you prepare the cocoa glaze.

Make the Cocoa glazebloom gelatine sheet with 40ml water, set aside. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, off heat, stir in the bloomed gelatine and whisk until completely dissolved (try to avoid making any bubbles). Cool in room temperature for 15 mins. Take out the cooled tarts from the refrigerator, pour the glaze carefully on the set custard filling until it’s just full. Refrigerate the tart for at least 1 hour to set completely. Decorate with chocolate shards and gold leaves if desired. These tarts are best to consume within three days.

 

2 comments
Yuen Yeung – Hong Kong Style Milk Tea & Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake and Feuilletine

This stunning Hong Kong-inspired Milk Tea and Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake is a winner – smooth and creamy in every bite as it harmoniously combines the flavours of coffee and milk tea!   

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The inspiration of this dessert comes from the famous, humble Yuen Yeung well beloved by all Hong Kongers. Yuen Yeung (in Cantonese pronunciation), commonly known as Kopi Cham in Malaysia, is a popular beverage in Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng. Mixing strong coffee and Hong Kong style milk tea in the right ratio, you get a sweet and creamy drink that’s perfect served either hot or cold.

I transformed the concept into a two-layer panna cotta with the addition of flourless chocolate cake and some golden feuilletine. I always like the idea of making panna cotta in a wine glass, well, maybe because to me the shine of the glass automatically elevates the look of the final result.  Am I right? 

Yuen Yeung - Milk Tea Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake

Just a little update of my recent life – I’ve been working hard for my placement and my body apparently wasn’t used to the high physical demand from work and it crashed… So here I am, snuggling up in blanket resting, while writing this post after much delay.

 

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My friend mentioned the word “adulting” when we chatted a few days ago, and the word just hits me. I guess “adulting” is something that can only be understood when experienced yourself. After I got my full time job, my life has been so preoccupied that my days seem to be set on repeat. Workplace is so much different from school – at school, when you screw up, it is all expected and there’ll be teachers to correct you and show you the right ways to do things; but in workplace, you got more responsibility on your shoulders and when you screw up, you screw up. It makes me feel the need to pay more attention to details while multitasking in the kitchen. Well.. at the end of the day, one thing that doesn’t change is that pastry fuels me.

P.S And you might have noticed that the styling of this series of pictures is different from the rest. It is all thanks to my newly bought “photography box” with its own LED lights. It is an immense help to me with my busy schedule, in the sense that I no longer have to solely rely on the sunlight as my light source for my photoshoot! But obviously I still need to learn more about how to use it properly. I hope you will enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients:

Milk Tea Jelly

  • 20g caster sugar
  • 250g water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 250g evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50g cold water

Coffee Panna Cotta

  • 50g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 300g cream
  • 100g full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50 g cold water

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 80g egg yolks
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 120g egg white
  • 140g almond meal

Notes:

  1. I created the layer effect by positioning the glass on a circular cutter in a way that the glass tilts. Therefore, before you start doing anything, make sure you have the right glass and a cutter that serves the purpose.
  2. The bottom layer has to set completely (which takes about 4 hours) before the second layer is poured in. So you need to plan ahead.

Directions:

Milk Tea Jelly

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water.
  2. Put caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Put the tea bag into the water-gelatin mixture, and let the tea infuse for 20-30 mins. After the infusion, squeeze out all the liquid inside the tea bag before throwing them away.
  4. Add evaporated milk and mix gently.
  5. Pour the mixture into the glasses, and put the glass onto a circular cutter, and tilt it to an angle that you want. Keep in fridge to set for around 4 hours. (you can prepare the flourless chocolate cake meanwhile)

Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water
  2. Put brown sugar, coffee powder, cream in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Add in the milk and mix gently. 
  4. When the milk tea jelly is set. Remove the cutter and pour the mixture into the glass. Keep in fridge to set for another 4 hours.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Note: as we are just using pieces of this chocolate cake as the topping, you can use whatever cake mould you want to suit your purposes. I used a 23cm square cake tin.

  1. Grease and line your cake tin. Set aisde. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt butter. Add dark chocolate and whisk until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add in brown sugar and egg yolks. Whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
  4. Make meringue (soft peak) with egg whites and caster sugar.
  5. Fold ⅓ of the meringue into the chocolate mixture and combine well.
  6. Fold in the almond meal.
  7. Fold in the remaining ⅔ meringue into the mixture and combine well.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake at 160C for 45-50mins, or until a skewered inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Assembly:

  1. Take out some pieces from the flourless chocolate cakes with your hand and carefully put on top of the panna cotta. If desired, put some Feuilletine coated with gold lustre powder like I did.
  2. Enjoy the dessert cold.

 

2 comments
Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache

This ginger lemon naked cake with lemon swiss meringue buttercream frosting, ginger molasses cookies, and caramelised white chocolate ganache is scrumptiously packed with the delightful aroma of ginger and lemon. It’s a treat that shall be enjoyed around the year! 

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache2Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache6

I made this cake to celebrate my friend’s and my 23rd birthday together. Yes, however reluctant I want to deny it, I just turned 23 and I don’t want time to pass so quickly just yet. Anyway, I had one mission for myself and that is the fact that this cake’s flavour profile had to revolve around her duo favourites: ginger and lemon.  Of course, it would be a crime not to add some soft, chewy ginger molasses cookies to the party. Given the cake’s Christmas vibe, It seems a bit early to make this post but hey, don’t forget there’s “Christmas in July” in Australia so I might as well jump on the bandwagon. That said, my friend, who is always my creative muse, did the cookie antlers and they look absolutely amazing. 

I don’t post pictures of myself here often but I guess birthday is a pretty good excuse huh? 

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache10

The cake itself is addictively delicious – it is buttery, moist and rich with a hint of freshness. To be honest, it’s hard for this flavour combination to go wrong. Let’s talk about a classic ginger cake with tangy lemon icing that you wouldn’t miss at Christmas time. 

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache9

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache4

To make the cake a little bit more interesting, I decided to caramelised white chocolate ganache as the dripping. Why caramelised? I find white chocolate itself too sweet, but caramelising the chocolate makes it taste deeper and toasty. You may want to use a good quality white chocolate with a high cocoa butter percentage for this job. In case you’re wondering, I simply flipped the cake over when the ganache has set on the cake, and you can have this cool reverse drip effect. I hope you all enjoy the cake if you make it! 

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache5

Ginger Lemon Naked Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Ginger Molasses Cookies and Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache8

Ingredients:

Ginger Lemon Cake

  • 380g all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp ground ginger 
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 400g unsalted butter, softened 
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 250g molasses
  • 4 eggs, room temperature 
  • 180ml milk
  • 120ml sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of

Ginger Molasses Cookie

  • 270g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g brown sugar 
  • 80g molasses 
  • 1 egg, room temperature 

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream 

  • 150g egg white
  • 225g caster sugar 
  • Pinch of cream of tar tar 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 Lemon, zest of 
  • 350g unsalted butter, room temperature

Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache 

  • 100g good quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 150g pure cream 
  • 15g soften unsalted butter 

Instructions:

For the ginger lemon cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour,   ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. This is your dry ingredients.
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter, brown sugar and molasses at a medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixture, and continue to beat until well incorporated. Scrap the bowl when necessary. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sour cream and milk and mix until incorporated. 
  5. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly into the three prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for around 35 -40  mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. When the cakes are cooled completely, use a serrated knife to trim the top of each cake until they are all of the same height (around 2-2.5cm), and the top is levelled and smooth. Set aside until ready to use. 
For the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Add egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 60C (140F).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Add cream of tar tar to it and whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-high speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrap the bowl when necessary.The buttercream may split at first but panic, just continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add lemon juice and zest, and beat until well combined. 
  4. Put the buttercream in a piping bag with a round nozzle until ready to use. 
Ginger Molasses Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  2. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. These are your dry ingredients. 
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses on medium high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and creamy. 
  4. Add egg  to the mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed until well mixed. 
  5. Add the prepared dry ingredients. Beat for another 1-2 mins until well incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 mins until it firms up a bit for easy rolling later. 
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. After refrigeration, roll the chilled dough into balls, 40g each, and space each one about 2-inches apart on the sheet to allow space for spreading. Flatten the dough a bit with a spoon or your palm. Feel free to reserve some dough to make the butlers or any other shapes to your liking. 
  8. Bake for 8-10 mins (depending on thickness and shape, don’t overbake). The cookies will feel soft when out of the oven but it will account for the chewiness when they cool down. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache
  1. Preheat your oven to 120C (250F). 
  2. Break your white chocolate Into small pieces and place them in a baking tray. Bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven and use a spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer. 
  3. Continue to bake and stir every 10 mins, for around 30-40 mins until the chocolate has turned caramelised and golden brown. 
  4. Transfer the caramelised white chocolate into a mixing bowl. 
  5. Heat cream in a saucepan and bring it to almost boil. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate. Let it sit for 2 mins, and whisk until the chocolate emulsifies and becomes completely smooth. 
  6. When the ganache has cooled down to 40C. Whisk in the soften butter until fully incorporated. 
  7. Set aside in room temperature until ready to use.
    *Put the ganache into a squeeze bottle if you have one for easier control 
Assemble
  1. Pipe a dollop of buttercream on the centre of the cake stand and place one cake layer on it to secure it. 
  2. Using your piping bag filled with buttercream, pipe a swirl of buttercream on the cake. Using an off set spatula, spread the buttercream carefully to level it out and top it with the second cake layer. 
  3. Repeat Step 2, and top it with the third cake layer. 
  4. Spread the remaining frosting on top and all around the sides using an offset spatular. Use a large bench scraper to smooth out the frosting on the sides of the cake to create the “naked” effect. *Reserve some for frosting the top after you flip the cake and reserve some more to stick the cookies on the cake* 
  5. Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 mins to set.
  6. When the buttercream is set, it’s time to do the dripping. 
  7. If you have prepared the squeeze bottle, apply appropriate pressure to squeeze out ganache on the edge of the cake and let it drop naturally. Alternatively, you can carefully use a spoon for the job. *please check the consistency of ganache at this step – if it’s too firm, microwave for 10 seconds each time until it reaches the right consistency. If it’s too runny, refrigerate until ready to use. *
  8. When the ganache is set on the cake, carefully flip the cake over and use the remaining buttercream to frost the top.
  9. Break the ginger cookies in pieces and stick it on the side of the cake with the reserved buttercream.
  10. Decorate the cake as you like. I painted my ganache drip with gold paint and I used sprinkles, shredded coconut, and shaved chocolate as the toppings. Enjoy! 
2 comments
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




7 comments
Sunflower Love – Japanese Mini Cheese Tart with Milo Crust




Good news – there are finally some good tarts made in Charlotte’s kitchen!! I haven’t updated the blog for nearly two weeks, because 1) life outside was so eventful that my kitchen lost its allure to me temporarily (trust me it’s really big thing for someone like me who always prefers to stay home) and 2) I had been trying to figure out the best method of making these little japanese cheese tarts so that I can share this recipe with you guys.

Japenese-mini-cheese-tart-with-milo-crust

If you are a fan of Japanese desserts, cheese tart shouldn’t sound unfamiliar to you. People are crazy about it, but who can blame them? Taste wise, the tart marries sweet and salty brilliantly. Texture wise, the contrast between the buttery crispy crust and the lava-like cheesy filling probably creates the most unforgettable tart eating experience. I once tried it in Japan, and I simply couldn’t get over it ever since.

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My take on this tart overall is pretty straightforward, except that I added some milo powder into the crust for a little malty, chocolate twist. If you follow the instructions carefully, making the tart filling shouldn’t be hard either – it basically resembles making custard with the use of a double boiler, so that things can be cooked evenly and gently without cooking the egg. The cornflour and egg will thicken the mixture considerably so that you can easily brush egg yolk on it before baking.

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One thing I must remind you here is, that no matter how eager you want to see the result, please be patient to let tart crusts cool and dry up before filling them up. I was impatient before and the tart ended up tragically soggy (yeah you don’t want that). Thanks for reading and I hope you will make them soon!

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Make 10-12 mini tart

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cup (188g) all purpose flour (+ 2 tbsp for kneading)
  • 25g milo powder
  • 1/2 cup (115g) cold butter, cut into small cubes  
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • salt

For the filling:

  • 110g cream cheese
  • 110g mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp (28g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 50g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 egg
  • 12g cornstarch (corn flour) (sifted)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Extra egg yolk for brushing

Instructions:

For the filling:

  1. Using a double boiler, heat and melt cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter until smooth.
  2. Add sifted cornflour and icing sugar, and mix well.
  3. Add egg, and mix well.
  4. Stir in milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, and mix well.
  5. Let the custard cool for at least 15 mins before putting them into a piping bag tipped with a round nozzle. Chill it in the refrigerator for later use.

For the crust:

  1. Blend together flour, milo powder, sugar, salt, butter with a pastry cutter or a food processor, until the mixture becomes coarse meal with spea-size butter lumps.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and stir until incorporated.  
  3. Put the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Add the extra 2 tbsp flour onto the dough surface. Knead the dough for a few times until the dough is brought together and no longer sticky. Press it into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins until firm.
  4. Roll out dough into 3-4mm thick with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface and fit into tart pans. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Now, Preheat your oven to 375F/190C.
  6. Bake tart shell for 15-18 mins . Let them cool in the pan until they’re cool enough to handle. Take the shells out of the pan and let them cool completely on a wrack.
  7. Now turn up the heat of your oven to 446F/230C.

Assemble:

  1. Pipe custard into the cooled tart shells, brush egg yolk on the surface.
  2. Bake for 6 mins on the top shelf (to facilitate browning). If you prefer a runnier texture, try 4 or 5 mins. Enjoy!

Yum

1 comment
Because Why Not – Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting




This joyful looking cake came into existence for two reasons. First, apparently I loved making chocolate desserts too much and I must stay away from it (right?). Second, it doesn’t hurt to go for some classic sometimes. By classic, I mean the marriage of salty and sweet – Peanut Butter & Jelly – made famous by Americans. Of course, this combination shouldn’t be limited to a breakfast/snack sandwich; think about it, if it works brilliantly between two slices of bread, it surely can make a great cake too.

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I originally designed this layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and this is a new recipe modified mainly to improve the cake’s texture. My first PB&J cake was bit on the dry and tough side. Therefore, in my second attempt, I put in more eggs and oil, and I also decided to fold meringue into the cake batter at last instead of incorporating whole eggs. Such changes increased the volume of the cake with richer taste and finer structure.

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One indispensable component of this cake is the jam. The slightly tart strawberry jam with a citrus touch perfectly undercuts the richness of the buttercream. People who have been in my baking life would know that I always prefer making things from scratch, for I want to have great control of my baked goods (here comes the even greater satisfaction afterwards!). I couldn’t resist making my own strawberry jam for the cake (see note for instructions), but again, you can by all means purchase your favourite jam :). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

(make one 6-inch cake)

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cup (188g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites + 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tar tar
  • 1 ½ ( (345g) cups unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter

For the homemade strawberry jam (or ½ cup store bought jam)

  • 250g  strawberries
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Toppings:

  • Fresh strawberry slices
  • Extra peanut butter swiss buttercream

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line one 6 inch cake with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tar tar. Using an electric beater, beat on high speed until soft peak forms. Transfer the meringue into another bowl; set aside.  
  5. Using the same mixing bowl you used to make the meringue, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  6. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Continue to beat at medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Mix on low speed until no flour can be seen.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared meringue into the cake batter with a spatula. Mix gently with folding motion until just incorporated.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 50 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the peanut butter swiss buttercream.

For the Peanut butter Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with a round tip for later use.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Cut the cake into three even layers.
  3. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  4. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  5. Pipe a generous amount of frosting evenly on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it a thin layer of strawberry jam.
  6. Top it with the second cake layer and repeat step 5, and top it with the third cake layer.
  7. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  8. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  9. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, put thin strawberry slices and spinkle cocoa powder as garnish if desired.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

Note:
Instructions for the homemade strawberry jam: 

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing them and drying them with a kitchen towel. Remove their stems. Crush strawberries in batches or cut them into small cubes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C, then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Put the jam into jars and refrigerate until ready for use.

Yum




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Mint Chocolate Cupcake

Same as every other post, this starts with a declaration of love, and today it’s about my favourite dessert flavour combo – Mint Chocolate. I believe everyone has his/her own weakness in food choice; and no matter how hard I try to resist it, mint chocolate is beyond doubt mine. This is especially true when it comes to ice-cream flavour. Why? It is equal parts cool and sweet, and the best ones are so refreshing that they’d brighten up my day and clear my mind.

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Despite how mouthwatering and delicate they look, cupcakes are not something I’d usually order outside. Yet, as it’s one of my goals to try out as many kinds of desserts as possible on this blog of mine, I might as well give it a go, right? 

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From the base to the top of each cupcake, this recipe delivers great textural fun and flavour layering that I always strive for in baking. First, there’s an oreo biscuit added at the bottom as a nice, crunchy surprise. Thanks to the melted mint chocolate and coffee, the cupcake base is moist and rich, with just enough mint hit coming through. Finally, together with the mint-flavoured buttercream as well as the finishing touch of a cheeky little Andes mint chocolate chip, what you have here is a daydream literally packed with minty goodness. Hmm, too cool to be true. (:

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Ingredients (make 18 cupcakes):

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2  cup (188g) plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 18 Oreo biscuits
  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter,  softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil ( I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup (113g) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) coffee, room temperature (2 tsp instant coffee powder melted in 1/4 cup (60ml) of water)
  • 50g Andes chocolate mint, melted
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla

For the buttercream frosting: 

  • 2 cups (250g) icing  sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (30m1) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 18  Andes chocolate mints

Instructions:

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add coffee, milk and melted mint chocolate, and continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until just incorporated. Do NOT overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the buttercream frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Finally, add milk, vanilla, mint extract, food coloring, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 30 mins before piping.
  5. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with your favourite piping tip, and put an Andes chocolate mint on top as decoration if desired.

Yum




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Hopeless Romantic – Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




Red Velvet Cake – always alluring by how romantic and gorgeous it looks. This is a recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; her method of separating the eggs into yorks and whites in the process rendered the cake extra light and fluffy. Also, given that it’s my second time making it, I’m proud to say that I’ve adjusted the recipe to get the texture, flavour, and sweetness just right to my taste. My apologies, but how can I miss this chance to declare, that it’s indeed a BLOODY good cake :p?

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You are the one who’s in control of how red the cake should appear: rose, crimson, or even blood red. Start with a few drops of coloring and eyeball it as you go. Just be extra careful when handling with food coloring; otherwise, you may create a domestic crime scene and end up spending a day trying to clean your kitchen (which i may or may not have done it myself).

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In fact , I had difficulties trying to pinpoint what a red velvet cake tasted like. In the most basic terms, its sponge cake’s flavour profile contains three major components, namely vanilla, chocolate, and buttermilk, working with and complementing one another. Essentially, together with the rich cream cheese frosting, a red velvet cake is a light chocolate cake with a little citrus kick. Still a bit confused? Well, I guess the only way to find that out is to try it out yourself, and win the heart of your special someone.

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Ingredients:

Cake

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2  tbsp (30ml) vanilla extract
  • liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature/ or 1 cup (240ml) whole milk + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 500g full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt (i.e. everything listed under dry ingredients).
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  5. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, and beat at medium speed until well combined. Meanwhile, use a hand whisk to vigorous beat egg whites until floamy and thick; set aside.
  6. Add buttermilk (or milk + lemon juice) and vanilla extract to thin out the mixture.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared egg whites into the cake batter with a spatula.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter (at room temperature) at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour to get firm so as to hold its shape while you work on it later.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface (reserve and crumble the unwanted cake parts into small pieces for decoration).
  2. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  3. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  4. Put a generous amount of frosting on the middle of the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it with the second cake layer. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  5. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  6. Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a tip that you prefer. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, sprinkle cake crumbles, stick thin strawberry slices to the side as garnish if desired.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!




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A Taste of Heaven @Janice Wong Dessert Bar

You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t update my blog much the past three weeks. The reason being a rainy getaway in Tokyo. The next thing you might notice is that this post is deliberately poetic. It can’t be helped – I felt obligated to express my feelings here after my visit to Janice Wong Dessert Bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Truth be told, I miss being a university student studying English and films a bit too much at the moment.

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Janice Wong, my idol, so bold, so brave, so adventurous, for her my admiration is like a tidal wave – unstoppable and recurring. A renowned Singaporean pastry chef, forever changing and challenging people’s perception of food. What she offers to the world is an edible form of art; she artfully puts forward a performance full of surprises, one that simultaneously stuns and mesmerises her “audience” in the most devilish ways. That said, looking through her dessert menu was eye-opening enough, for every dessert seemed so heavenly and well-designed that I couldn’t wait to devour all of them.

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After some intense struggles, I decided to order Chocolate H2O (please tell me who doesn’t find chocolate irresistible). One of the main factors of the unique eating experience here is that you, as the curious customers, get to witness/engage in the dessert-making process – I could see the focus and passion in the staff’s eyes when they brought the desserts into life, attending to every single detail of the final dish. As I watched, my hungry soul was already aching to have a taste.

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Chocolate H2O (Bitter chocolate water mousse/Salted caramel/ Yuzu kalamansi gel/ Yuzu sorbe) definitely made its presence felt through its visual aesthetics. One thing I can’t resist about Janice Wong’s dessert is how every single element of the dish maneuvers its ways into creating some sheer magic. The bitterness of the chocolate was effectively elevated by the salted caramel, but then balanced by the slightly sour yuzu components. Such a fine combination of flavours made every bite an absolute pleasure – it instantly filled my heart with happiness, as if some sort of ecstasy flew through my blood.

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To end this post, I am going to put up Janice Wong’s philosophy about her approach to food as a timely reminder for myself.

“Welcome to our artistic gastronomic world of flawless imperfection and flawed perfection.

It is not to complex. Open your mind as I have and you will, too, see, taste and feel differently.

These seemingly disparate sources of inspiration and the creation that stem from them are all threaded by a commonality a pursuit for perfection in imperfection, and an appreciation of imperfection in perfection.”

Note to self:

  • Be fearless and resilient, because
  • as long as you know what you’re aiming at, the sky is the limit to how far you should go to achieve it.
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Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake decorated with fresh figs

Confession: I have a long love affair with earl grey-infused desserts. This cake is the result of my attempt to give into this love, while also going against the grain by NOT creating one of the obvious fall season treats that are already flooding the food world at the moment (let’s see when I will fail) :p. As with anything tea based, the key to making the flavour work is a reverence for the brewing process. Your focus should be on drawing out the full-bodied flavour that lies within. And being a British tea, this choice of flavour can make for the perfect afternoon drink, as well as the ideal naughty snack.

Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake decorated with fresh figs

As for the cake itself – with its own inherent citrus undertones, the Earl Grey in this cake is ideally accentuated with the addition of fresh lemon juice and zest. On the other hand, throwing in cream cheese is a new idea, as the taste of the first version of this cake was lacking vibrancy, something which I reckon a great cheesecake should possess. When this is then mixed with mascarpone cheese, you get a superbly rounded flavour packing creamy sweetness and multiple layers of sourness. But that’s not all. Did I forget to mention the finishing touch of fresh figs and drizzles of extra honey on top? All this together, well, it’s a rich, vibrant kick of elegant floral flavour in every bite.

Fresh figs atop an Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

In terms of process, just like other cheesecakes, this cake requires a water bath while baking to prevent the cake’s surface from cracking from the heat. Also, it has to be baked at a lower temperature to allow for even heat distribution. This is not a short bake and, I know, I hate to wait just as much as every baker does. But again, patience is the key to everything. How about watching your favourite show on Netflix as you wait? Hope you will enjoy this recipe :)!

A fresh baked Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 500g mascarpone cheese
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 120g good quality honey
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest of
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 450ml whole milk
  • 5 earl grey bag loose leaves
  • 4tbsp cake flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the base:

  • 220g graham biscuit
  • 80g melted butter

Toppings:

  • 2-3 medium sized figs
  • honey

Instructions:

For the base:

  1. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Ground the graham biscuit into a semi-fine texture with some crunch left using a food processor or blender. Add the melted butter and mix well.
  3. Evenly distribute the mixture across the bottom of the pan, before pressing it with a spoon until a firm and even based is formed.

For the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven at 320F (160C)
  2. Add milk and earl grey tea leaves into a saucepan, bring the mixture to boil and mix well. Turn off the heat and let the flavours develop as it cools and then set aside.
  3. Add mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and honey to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix the ingredients on a medium speed until evenly blended and smooth.
  4. One at a time, add eggs to the cheese mixture, mixing at a medium speed until all five are well incorporated.
  5. Add salt, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and the cooled earl grey milk to the mixture and incorporate gently using a spatula.
  6. Finally, sift in cake flour and mix well. Take care not to over mix – the texture should be smooth.
  7. Pour the completed batter over the base in the pre-prepared cake tin.
  8. Bake the cake in a water bath (e.g. a larger pan with hot water inside) at 320F (160C) for 20 mins. Then lower the temperature to 240F (120C) and bake for 90 mins more. When time is up, open the door slightly to let the cake gradually cool down in the oven.
  9. Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  10. Lastly, decorate the cake with fresh figs and honey. Enjoy!
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