Spring Break: A Photo Diary Part I

“NOTHING COMES CLOSE TO THE GOLDEN COAST” – the smarmy line from that Katy Perry song Aaron texted me when I arrived in Gold Coast. I don’t know how Gold Coast would compare with California but that said, the first thing I noticed about the city was how freakishly similar it was to the other coastal areas I’ve been to. It reminded me of Malacca, Marine Parade, and Sentosa all at once and perhaps we’re looking at a trait inherent to most coastal cities: they gravitate towards nearly identical architectural styles and have a relaxing vibe that comes naturally with beachfront living.

My spring break didn’t start out so great. I had to sit next to the most insufferable people on the plane: two other girls, one of whom started complaining when asked to put her bag below the seat in front of her – “I can’t put my LONGCHAMP on the floorrrrr.” Girl, it’s hard to believe you don’t know it’s standard protocol to have all bags on the floor before take-off so stop playing the victim and let the stewardess do her damn job. A long string of expletives played out in my head every time she looked in my direction and finally, an hour into the flight, bitch went to sleep. I tried to look at the positive side of things; I may not be able to push this chick off the plane but at least I’d have one terrific flight story to tell Nad when I’d arrived.

Many things have changed since my last trip there (I was 8!) but to all intents and purposes, Gold Coast remains much the same as it was then. The beaches are as spectacular as I remember, just cleaner and more modernized. The coastline is still cramped with apartment hotels either fathered by the nondescript global hotel chain or the ones that are too indie to be clustered with the mainstreamers. I devised a little game to see if we could spot the most ridiculously named hotel but it was forgotten shortly after a seafood dinner of the grandest scale. Freshly shucked oysters, delightful baby octopus dressed in a light oil and vinegar dressing, lobsters, battered fish and shrimp on a terrifying bed of fries – it was carb hell but we were in heaven.

Unlike Melbourne, Gold Coast isn’t really the place for great coffee. Let’s be frank: nobody goes to Gold Coast for coffee. They’re there for the beaches, hot surfer boys, girls in bikinis overdoing the tanning oil, overpriced buffets, and amusement parks. But I am a coffee fiend who likes the occasional challenge. After some google-sleuthing, I scoped out two chic cafes with decent beans: Bumbles and Elk Espresso.

Bumbles is conveniently tucked away at the back of our hotel and after a 7-hour flight, Nad, understandably needed some caffeine and nosh in her system. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee after that plane episode so we split some prawn sandwiches, truffle fries, and a mocha between us. The prawn sandwiches weren’t just dressed in grandma’s old mayo but had some paprika and lemon juice mixed in as far as I could tell. It was blistering hot and those sandwiches were a cool food refuge from the sun, yum. The truffle fries were great too and came topped with parmesan shavings but honestly, they were expensive for the little amount we got. Still, money needs to be spent during a holiday and spend it all we did LOL.

My favourite between the two has to be Elk Espresso, this – dare I say it – Melbournesque cafe located in Broadbeach. Admittedly, it’s very hipster-y with a mural of an elk on its specked green walls and wood trimmings but god, it’s so pretty I didn’t mind being identified as a hipster for an hour. Nad ordered a beautiful lemon tart with a side of cream and a coffee. As for me, I had read reviews prior to my visit and everyone was saying the same thing: do not leave Elk’s without trying their crème brûlee milkshake. And it gets better. While they did have regular milkshakes on the menu, the crème brûlee flavour exists only as a colossal food monument you often see on Man V. Food: THE THICKSHAKE. It’s scoops of smooth vanilla-caramel ice cream, milk and white chocolate shavings blended into the thickest, most decadent milkshake in the entire gold/east/west coast. I don’t know how many calories went into one thickshake but nothing succeeds like excess. Kelis, it’s time to update your song girl – this thickshake is going to bring more than boys to the yard.

Stay tuned for part II!

Bumbles
19 River Drive
Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217

Elk Espresso
16 Chelsea Ave
Broadbeach QLD 4218

Salted Caramel Sugar Loaf

Few things make me happier than salted caramel and chicken rice. Chicken rice, while very ubiquitous in Singapore, is something that I find very hard to make well. Salted caramel, that beautifully French combination that oscillates between savory and sweet? Not so much molecular gastronomy as adding salt to caramelised sugar and cream. Making something with salted caramel has been on my cards since I met one of my readers turned amazing friend, Sher Reen (miss you hon!), for coffee last year where we debated over who and who sold the best salted caramel cupcakes in Melbourne. That debate naturally turned into a web quest for the best salted caramel cupcakes recipe that we found and oohed over.

Still, I didn’t have an inclination to try the recipe out for myself. I may have become more enthusiastic about baking these past few months but I draw the line at cupcakes. They’re too much work for one lazy person and their nature as “perfectly portioned” treats (nobody stops at one, nobody!) makes them the best ill-disguised waistline trolls since donuts.

This salted caramel loaf takes the bitch out of making itty bitty cupcakes yet retains all of that luscious flavour. I was tempted to make a cupcake frosting for my loaf but went for the glaze instead since it’ll last longer and any remains would make an amazing spread over slices of toast. Also, frosting makes me do very bad things that I wouldn’t care to repeat post-sugar rehab. This recipe was based on a combination of two recipes: my matcha tea loaf recipe (no matcha and replaces the white sugar with the brown variant) and The Truffle Honey’s salted caramel bundt cake (the glaze).

Salted Caramel Sugar Loaf
Recipe adapted from Spoonful & The Truffle Honey

Ingredients

Brown Sugar Loaf
1⁄2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature (or yoghurt if you’re out of sour cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 stick of butter
1/4 cup whipping cream* (Not really an accurate measurement since I kinda eyeballed this, the trick is not to add too much or you’ll end up with syrupy sauce instead of a glaze so be careful when adding the cream!)
Sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

2. Butter a loaf pan. Line with a piece of parchment paper that covers bottom and long sides (leave some poking up from the pan to facilitate lifting the loaf out later). Butter the parchment paper.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream. Add vanilla, and mix 1 minute.

4. Pour into loaf pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire cooking rack for a few minutes. Lift cake out by the parchment handles and allow to cool completely on rack.

For the caramel glaze:

1. Pour the sugar into a medium sized sauce pan and heat on the stove over medium-low heat, allowing the sugar to melt, whisking often. This will take forever. Just kidding – it’ll take about 5-7 minutes.

2. When the sugar becomes slightly sticky and golden brown in color, add the butter and whisk quickly and constantly. Once the butter and sugar are well combined, which will take about 5 minutes, remove this mixture from the heat.

3. Add the cream to the pot with the caramel and stir well until the caramel is thick and creamy. Pour the glaze into a bowl and set aside to cool a bit.

4. Pour the caramel glaze over the cake (the glaze can still be warm when you do this, but it shouldn’t be burning hot), and sprinkle with sea salt.

A cautionary tale for like-minded finger-dipping taste testers such as myself: Do not attempt to dip your finger into the caramelizing sugar! Even though it doesn’t look like it, trust my blistered forefinger that it is pretty damn askldjsakdlj hot.

Sorry you haven’t seen an entry from me in over a month, guys! There comes a few moments in a semester when assignments are timed to be submitted in the same week. It is a sly and terrible thing to do to university students but such is life. Happy Eid by the way!! I’m a little sad Ramadhan’s over but oh my gosh yes food, hello! Before I say goodbye, here’s some extra delicious reading material from the New York Times: How Caramel Developed a Taste For Salt. Don’t say this blog ain’t educational.

Matcha Tea Loaf

GROAAAANNN. I did it. I heeded the siren calls of my oven, made a mess in my kitchen and despite wanting to stab something every time I spotted a new renegade flour spot on the table, I have to confess I want to do it all over again. Fine, you got me: it is pretty damn satisfying getting a beautifully risen loaf out of the oven, smoothing nutella over the first slice and welcoming it in your tummy.

Apart from having a room door strategically located in front of the oven (BAKECEPTION thoughts being planted in my subconscious everyday smh), there was one other catalyst that spurred me to embrace the rolling pin: a forgotten canister of matcha buried behind my tea collection. Drinking matcha in the morning used to be quite the breakfast ritual for me but this year I’ve ditched the green tea for its more hipster cousin, the spicy chai HAHA! Soy milk chai lattes are amazing btw, especially made with this soy milk I found in the super last week. I used to love soy milk as a kid but got sick of its cloying sweetness….a bit much coming from a girl with a terrible bubble tea fixation LOL. Anyway, that soy milk I’m drinking now has a thicker consistency and is sweetened with barley and pear juice. It’s even got kombu in it :o Really good stuff, I hope you guys can find it in Singapore!

Having tea with a slice of cake is a better mood lifter than drinking tea by itself (tho drinking tea alone is better for skinny jeans but I have since moved on to chinos so fork that) so I wanted to bake something that was slightly crumbly and light. I found this matcha tea cake on Spoonful and almost every ingredient in the recipe I had in the pantry so ++ points for frugality! Except I didn’t have baking soda and had to lug back half a kilo’s worth because that was the smallest size they had .____. Half a kilo……when I only needed one teaspoon GDI. Yes, I did think of breaking the packet open and stealing a teaspoon’s worth but ultimately, I am a god-fearing Muslim! (yes, really). Also this means I should bake more to get my money’s worth, oui?

A few changes I made to Spoonful’s recipe: again, like my truffles, I used Splenda instead of white sugar and instead of setting aside 1/3 of the batter to mix with the matcha, I increased this and used half the batter instead for a stronger tea flavour. You know I love my green tea so I upped the matcha measurements by er..a lot. I didn’t take any precise measurements but I was very generous: I just heaped it on and stirred until it became a shade of green I liked HAHAHA 8D Also if it’s your first time doing a marble cake like me, don’t worry about the marbling so much. My marbling didn’t turn out as pretty as Spoonful’s but I suppose one gets better with practice? Otherwise, temporarily shut the perfectionist in the laundry room and repeat to self, “AS LONG AS CAN SEE, CAN LIAO” (translated in standard English for readers outside Singapore: as long as you can see it, it’s good to go).

Matcha Tea Scented Loaf
adapted from Spoonful

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1.5 teaspoons matcha powder or more, if you’re matcha-obsessed like me
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

2. Butter a loaf pan. Line with a piece of parchment paper that covers bottom and long sides (leave some poking up from the pan to facilitate lifting the loaf out later). Butter the parchment paper.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream. Add vanilla, and mix 1 minute.

4. Portion out 1/2 of the batter into a small bowl. Mix in matcha powder, stirring well to combine.

5. Spread 1/4 of the plain batter into prepared pan. Use a small offset spatula to ensure an even, flat layer. Dollop with 1/4 of matcha batter and use a spatula to gently spread the matcha layer on the top of the other. Spread another fourth of the plain batter on top, followed by another fourth of the matcha batter. Repeat one more time so that the final layer is the rest of the matcha batter. Run a thin knife through batter to marbleize. Run spatula over top to ensure the batter is flat in the end.

6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire cooking rack for a few minutes. Lift cake out by the parchment handles and allow to cool completely on rack.

K no more food entries until I write a beauty one LOL, thanks for reading guys! x

p.s I almost died taking that second photo (I had to stand on a very high chair), so please appreciate it more now that you know my neck nearly got snapped in half. WE MUST DIE FOR ART, or I should really get a damn tripod.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pseudo Truffles

When I saw this recipe on Bakerella the night before my final essay was due, making these truffles went straight up the list of Things To Do When I Get My Life Back. I am that person who enjoys eating cake batter more than the actual cake itself (well, sometimes) so I say with no exaggeration that this IS the recipe I’ve been waiting for all my life. I also noticed that all my dessert recipes on this blog, including this one, have strictly no baking involved and I wonder if it makes you think if I really am against baking rofl. Well, I don’t hate baking per se; I just hate the inevitable mess: the fine rain of flour/sugar/cocoa powder on the table, cleaning the baking sheets crusted with butter and washing the damn mixer and all its attachments – no, thank you, I’m happier buying my cakes and cookies from real bakers, knowing that somewhere out there, someone’s kitchen is being dirtied and it ain’t mine TROLOLOL. What I love about this recipe is that cleaning up merely involves eating whatever’s left in the bowl – genius.

I didn’t have enough chocolate on hand to coat these truffles completely but I’m thankful I didn’t because I only had milk chocolate so drizzling it lightly on these rolled balls of cookie dough was sweet enough. If you intend to coat the truffle entirely in chocolate, I would suggest using dark chocolate instead. Oh yes, I also used Splenda in place of the white sugar, my feeble attempt to shave off a few calories from this bowl of MOTHER OF GOD goodness. So if you want to use Splenda or EQUAL, cut only the white sugar measurements in half.

Bakerella’s truffles are elaborate versions of what I have here, with little ice cream sticks in them so check out her site if you want to make her version ;D The recipe she uses is from a book called..wait for it..The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook OMG SHAKING AND CRYING AT ITS INGENUITY! The author is the blogger behind my newly-discovered food read of the week: Love and Olive Oil. I don’t know her but I think I’m in love. Anyone who has the artistry to make an egg-free, safe to eat chocolate chip cookie dough and then turning it into an entire cookbook deserves all the love in the world. Thank you Lindsay, thank you.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
adapted from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook & Bakerella

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips + some chips for drizzling

1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). I didn’t have a mixer so I used my poor hand and whisk instead. Be prepared for aching hands and make sure you have some patience. Everything clumped together in the whisk so I had to clean it each time with a spoon. A wee bit irksome but it’s k, the results are well worth it.

2. Mix in milk and vanilla.

3. Add flour and salt and mix on low until combined.

4. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm enough to roll or scoop into 1-inch balls. Place rolled balls on a wax paper lined baking sheet (I just sprinkled parchment paper with some flour) and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

6. Heat some chips in a bowl in short bursts of 30 seconds in the microwave, stirring each time. Drizzle over the rolled balls and place in the fridge to firm up.

I think this recipe makes about 25-30 truffles, depending on how big you make them. My roommate and I polished off 10 last night while watching movies wtf. I passed some to my girl Amy and she is equally enamoured: “OMG DUDE THESE ARE SO GOOD!”. I have about 10 left and roomie’s gone off to get some vanilla ice cream now…yep, we’re going to do just that ;p

P.S HOW PRECIOUS ARE MY TEASPOON AND CAKE FORK?! They’re from Daiso :3

This is fact, not fiction.

I have never met my best friend in real life. Ours is a profound friendship bordering on ingenuity and slight insanity. We met in that bizarre universe people called the internet through the unlikeliest of people, two friends – one known for her promiscuous ways and the other, a gay designer friend I used to be close to. This is really starting to sound like a cliched rehash of The Devil Wears Prada lol but bear with me.

We bonded over a common love for fashion, design and caramel lattes with two sugars. It was almost cosmic. It still baffles me how we have managed to forge a close friendship despite living in two different countries. We both had strong personalities and I remember him telling me once, “The only reason why we’re best friends is because no one else can stand us.”

Have you ever met someone you feel instantly drawn to on an emotional level? A friend you can divulge even the most sordid secret with, someone who takes your side no matter how much of a bitch you were to your ex-boyfriend (true story!), makes fun of you when you do something stupid but immediately puts you at ease after he’s done? Aaron has been a pivotal part of my life for the last 3 years and somewhere in the middle of that, despite having only talked online, we dropped the “friend” label and became best friends.

Naturally, we often talked about meeting each other and sometimes we’d dream up these dramatic scenarios of our first meeting taking place in Champs-Élysées where we’d run from opposite ends dressed in McQueen to meet in the middle LOL. The funny thing is our first meeting was more anti-climatic than we had imagined, the Earth didn’t implode/explode and Katy Perry wasn’t around to do a medley of Teenage Dream/Firework. It felt like we’ve been going out forever and it was great to see that we were the same online and offline. Inside jokes were shared, insults were traded and significant events were retold with a strange note of familiarity. This is quite possibly the most surreal experience I’ve ever had.

Quoting Aaron, “It felt like the physical manifestation of texting you throughout the day.”

I was in KL for 3 days and he graciously rearranged his schedule so we could hang out everyday so nice omg ;__; On our last day we went to Whisk, a little cafe he’s fond of that serves some damn good red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. We tried a little bit of everything and drowned it all with sips of caramel milkshake. I’ll let the photos speak for the amount of sugar we consumed that day lol.

The last couple of photos are of Aaron‘s recent design project! Isn’t he immensely talented? I love surrounding myself with creative people and seeing his work for the first time in the flesh instead of on my computer screen was definitely a highlight of the trip. Thank you for your time bb, it was perfect – YOU are perfect! I wish I could stay longer but really, as long as we talk online it probably won’t make much of a difference lol. MISS CHU BB <333333333333 MOVE TO SINGAPORE PLX.

in all its pinkness

marshmallow

Marshmallow Pie

Ingredients

16 graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup butter
30 large marshmallows
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup hot milk
1/2 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate, grated

1. Mix crushed graham crackers with butter or margarine. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this mixture for the top of the pie. Press remaining mixture in pie pan.

2. Cook milk and marshmallows in a double boiler until marshmallows are melted.

3. Cool marshmallow mixture. Fold in whipped cream, and add grated chocolate.

4. Pour chocolate marshmallow mixture into graham cracker pie shell, and put reserved crumbs on top. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Recipe taken from here.

You can be sure it’s mostly guilt that drives me to post food recipes on this blog. It’s my way of saying “Hey guys, sorry for disappearing but I’m still here, werqing what my momma gave me.” You guys are probably used to my disappearing acts anyway, try 12 weeks of intense essay-writing and you’d probably want to do as I do on my free weekends: lie in bed and pretend you have a life outside school.

The story behind this lurid pink marshmallow pie is quite simple: I was watching Nigella’s new show, Kitchen, and in one of the episodes, she makes a “grasshopper” pie out of marshmallows and some green-tinged Crème De Menthe. I was transfixed the whole time, fascinated by the almost tacky inclusion of marshmallows. Marshmallow…pie? DUH! My childhood fantasies and cotton candy dreams in a pie; easily the best thing ever. Plus, there’s no baking involved which means no mess! I must confess that I didn’t follow the recipe too strictly: the marshmallows we get here are small and come in pink & white which sheds some light on why my pie is pink lol (too lazy to separate the whites from the pinks!)

Classes are done for the year, I just submitted a couple of essays (7,500 words in total what the flying f-) today and I have an exam in about 3 weeks. But really, why delay the celebrations? I’M FREEEEEEEEE. Now I just need to get my life back but first, some pie for the road.

Pâtisserie Monday

I know everyone’s expecting a beauty entry from me and I do have new stuff to share but I haven’t had time to photograph them yet because my roomie’s mom is here for a week so we’ve both been playing glorified tour guides paid for our trade in what a poor university student considers gold: free meals and the occasional ice cream. We dropped by Brunetti’s yesterday so I’m going to be civil and share some of my old shots of the place plus new ones of the desserts we had – yeah, you can think of this as a ‘filler’ entry of sorts lol. You guys prolly realised from my previous Brunetti’s entry that I am completely inept at remembering cake names so I’m going to stop pretending I know Italian and stick to typing what I can remember about each cake ;p

biscotti

Biscotti on display!

cafe2

The interior of the main store at Lygon St which is strategically built 15 mins away from my campus. It’s also a strategic way to get fat if you’re not careful.

cafe

Yummy. (And just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about the cakes/interior design of the place meheh)

hotcho

Nothing warms the bitter heart like a cup of hot chocolate.

raspberry

Raspberry vanilla cake thing which tasted like it was meant to be ice cream in a former life but someone thought it would be fascinating to translate that into a cake; in simpler terms: IT WAS HELLA GOOD.

cake

Crap I don’t even remember what was in this cake. Can I go by aesthetics alone and guess what’s inside the cake? A triple layer of chocolate, coffee and er more chocolate (??) mousse topped with cream + hazelnuts. God, I fail at life. Don’t judge me, just look at the damn picture and marvel at how awesome it must have tasted mmkay.

royale

The Royale cake (hey hey I finally remembered something!) Hazelnut, chocolate praline and this amazing crumbly wafer-like base = easily my fave chocolate cake.

fruit-tart

FRUIT TART. There, that was easy.

profiterole

The mini profiterole. It’s called a ‘mini’ because they actually sell a version that’s taller than a pair of Louboutins. Mini choux pastry coated in a dark chocolate, filled with a light vanilla bean-infused cream and stacked on a mound of more cream!

profiterole2

The inner workings of an amazing profiterole; just sublime!

Green tea tiramisu I would sell my Guccis for.

tiramisu2

I’m really not much of a baking person, I’m not one to fret over precise measurements of different types of flour, yeasts etc and I’m completely not bothered with the large-scale clean up that comes after the cake has been served. I love cooking because you’re allowed a sense of control when it comes to recipes, you can play around with the ingredients because there really is no need for accuracy (which is why most of my recipes don’t really have accurate measurements)

I like my food cooked fast and my desserts fuss-free. If I wanted anything fancier, I’d just eat out at a restaurant you know? My green tea tiramisu is something I’m very proud of- it’s a no-bake dessert, has everything i’ve ever dreamed (the only thing it lacks is a hot date to share it with but I guess my BFF Dejiki would suffice for now XD)

The only thing hard about it is probably the 5 hours you need to wait for it to chill. Aah that’s another reason why I’m not such fan of baking; I’m severely lacking in the patience department (something I have in common with 70% of the male population) I just can’t sit and fiddle in front of the oven waiting for the damn cake to rise.. I honestly admire and applaud you homebakers, how do you guys do it??

mascarpone

Mascarpone cheese has this perfect thick, whipped consistency right out of the container – don’t you think it looks heavenly already?

sponges2

Purists would probably scoff at the idea of having a non-espresso, kahlua based tiramisu but I love my green tea and I don’t care for opinions made by old men who drink coffee in their sweats and catch flies all day (that’s how I’d imagine tiramisu purists to look like) Green tea tiramisu isn’t something new and the basic essentials of making a tiramisu still remain; I’m using lady fingers like all tiramisu recipes – italian sugar-coated sponge biscuits with a slight hint of vanilla.

cream2

You need to steep the lady fingers in a cup of matcha green tea and arrange them to make a base for your tiramisu. Try not to go overboard with the steeping like I did lol or the tiramisu would be overly moist…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smooth over the first layer of mascarpone..remember we are not aiming for perfection here people. If I was aiming for perfection, I would have opened a patisserie a long time ago selling slices of tiramisu at an inflated price of $9.99 ;D

tiramisu-1

Green Tea Tiramisu

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
300g mascarpone cheese
1 packet lady finger biscuits
the best matcha powder you can buy
200ml hot water

1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and the vanilla essence until it turns a light yellow.

2. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and mix till smooth (it’s best to leave it out of the fridge for a bit so you don’t have to beat the heck out of a solid chunk of cheese.)

3. Make your green tea with the hot water and lightly soak the lady fingers in the tea.

4. Arrange the biscuits in the dish to make a base for the tiramisu.

5. Cover the biscuits with half of the mascarpone mixture and dust some matcha powder on it.

6. Repeat steps 3-5 until you get a duo layer tiramisu!

7. Cover with cling wrap and chill it in the fridge for 5 hours at least (no cheating guys, I’m watching you.)

scoop

The BFF LOVES this tiramisu and only eats it when I make it – he also happens to be the pickiest eater I know so it makes me feel almost godly whenever I give him a slice LOL. If you have any questions pertaining to the recipe, ask me in the comments!

Work’s finally overrrr!! I really should start packing for my move but unfortunately, my mind seems to be more interested in making lunch/dinner dates with my friends haha! I haven’t got the slightest clue on how I’m going to pack all my make-up and shoes x_x I thinking of wrapping everything (make-up, I mean) in bubble wrap and packing them in a box to be checked in as “Fragile”. Anyone have any better ideas?

How to impress your BFF (who has everything) on his birthday

Say you’ve got a BFF who’s of the opposite sex, someone you can talk just about everything to, watches the same shows you watch (except Gossip Girl, bless his heart), has a very healthy saving habit so he can buy whatever his heart desires (which sadly is short of a CHANEL 2.55 for me ;_;) so what the heck do you give someone who most probably has everything he’s ever wanted?

Girl, you do what I do every year: You take him out for a nice meal some place posh and swanky. Trust me, there will be less drama, your sanity will remain intact and all of humanity is saved.

lk2

If the place you’ve chosen happens to have a sorta old English thing going on in their chosen interior design theme then you know it’s a safe bet to take your best friend here especially if he a) also happens to be a designer b) appreciates good brand identity that’s reflected in their store design c) likes all things English.

It’ll be even more awesome if the restaurant has a couple of randomly hung crystal balls around the dining area because that’s just cool and hey it doesn’t matter if the chances of you being impaled by a large, probably very heavy crystal sphere thing just increased ten-fold – IT’S YOUR BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY SO SUCK IT UP!

twg

And you gotta make sure the restaurant specializes in something e.g. french cuisine or whatever. In this particular case, tea is the poison of choice so you betta make sure the menu has over 800 different varieties of tea blends, doesn’t matter if you don’t know or can’t pronounce half of them (wtf is “Happy Flute Tea”? srsly.) because these 800 tea names will be listed out in an excruciatingly small but elegant font spread over 5 pages and that would totally impress the BFF.

All you got to do is just squint your eyes, randomly select a tea you think sounds delicious – in my case, the Pomme Prestige tea (cos Pomme is like apple in French duh) and when your BFF asks “Erm what do you recommend?” You clear your throat and smoothly reply like a true tea connoisseur – “You should check out the Happy Birthday tea!” And he orders just that XD

teasets

SO WHAT if the place charges exorbitant amounts of money for their tea time sets (smartly named “Chic” and “Celebration” to justify their prices) which include chi-chi tea sandwiches smaller than the size of your palm?! Remember they’re made from tea-infused crème fraîche and that tiny smile on your BFF’s face when the sets arrive? PRICELESS BB. He’s trying to hide his best to hide his excitement but you can almost see it bubblin’ from deep within LOL.

Ok ok TWG will always be me and the BFF’s favourite tea haunt, we both love tea (dude my domain name has the word tea in it rofl) and although we usually get our tea fix from there, LK/Dejiki/Nicholas (dude has a lot of aliases) and I have never actually sat down and enjoyed one of their infamous tea time sets before so what better excuse to do so than on his birthday right? Depending on which set you order, you get to choose 3 macaroons, 3 tea sandwiches and a patisserie.

I had 2 Cucumber with “Earl Grey Fortune Tea” infused cream cheese sandwiches and a Smoked Salmon with Mascarpone and Chive sandwich, loved both of them but the cucumber one’s my fave! It’s very light and the cucumber + cream cheese made quite a happy marriage of flavours lol.

singapore-surprise

My choice of pattiserie was a slice of their Singapore Surprise cake tart which is apparently their signature cake. LK had a few bites and thought it to be like a “crème brûlée but the EXTREME version” and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s got raspberries in a light, airy cream that’s been infused with their “Vanilla Bourbon” tea and the top is made of burnt brown sugar, love it.

chocolate-meringue

The real star of the show was actually the Chocolate Meringue cake LK chose for himself. It’s essentially made of an insanely smooth and dense semi-dark chocolate cream topped with crumbly layers of…more chocolate! I think TWG chocolate cakes are a force to be reckoned with, I tried the Chocolate Macadamia cake with Hid some time back and it was just as good!

Teas are their main forte of course, I’ve tried a couple and I would seriously recommend the Pomme Prestige tea (black tea with apple), Happy Birthday tea (black tea with berries – order this on your birthday, it’ll make you feel special!), Silver Moon tea (green tea with vanilla and strawberries, my ultimate fave!), Crème Brûlée tea (green tea with vanilla and berries, similar to Silver Moon but is sweeter to resemble the decadent dessert) and Sakura! Sakura! tea (green tea infused with sakura petals, jasmine and berries – very flowery and how adorable is the name?)

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique
Raffles Place, #01 – 22
Republic Plaza
Singapore 048619
Tel: +65 6538 1837

I realized yesterday that I totally forgot to blog about my trip to the KRYOLAN Cosmetics store in Melbourne, geez. I’m so absent-minded D: I’ll talk about that in my next entry + other random beauty stuff. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Thank you so much for reading Tea Noir, it’s been great knowing all of you! Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2010 – cheers to love, peace, beauty and food xoxo

Damn Good Panna Cotta

served

There’s nothing like making your own dessert. Yes, it can get messy and yes, it’s such a pain waiting for it to chill in the fridge but I think it’s an unbeatable awesome feeling to eat something delicious you actually took the time to make!

You probably have to pay maybe $5-6 for a cup of panna cotta in a restaurant? What’s the point when you can actually save some money (yeah right. I used the money saved and invested it in more make-up >D) and make your own? I found this fabulously easy recipe on David Lebovitz (whom I think is the king of decadent desserts!) so I decided to try it out during my slumber party with Nadz last week!

Panna cotta is essentially vanilla flavoured heavy cream set in little cute bowls so this recipe isn’t exactly diet-friendly BUT WHO CARES RIGHT? I DON’T BECAUSE WE ONLY LIVE ONCE BITCHEZZ!

ingredients

mixture

eat

David Lebovitz’s Perfect Panna Cotta

This recipe makes about 8 cups.

4 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)

2. Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.

3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours but I let them stand at least four hours.

If you’re pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.

6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

Many thanks to the very patient hot cream pouring and spoon holding Nadz who had to endure my very anal making-of panna cotta photography session. It’s her birthday today and she’s in Malaysia having the time of her life! Happy birthday darling, I hope you’re enjoying yourself over there – come back safe!

Sorry I disappeared all week, I’ve been busy having too much fun ;D If you’ve been following me on twitter, you’d know payday was yesterday and I bought some beauty-related stuff, can’t wait to show you guys – all will be revealed tomorrow!

Til next time~

recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz