Sweets

HONEY WHIPPED RICOTTA-STUFFED SCONES

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THE THICKENED AND EMBRACIVE RICOTTA-MASCARPONE MOISTENS THE CRUMBS LIKE A SCONE CARRYING ITS OWN CLOTTED-CREAM

  
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Sometimes, we wait for the perfect recipe-publishing moment to present itself.  Iced dairies to fend off the heat in August… festivities to baste in the spirit of October… chocolates to sweeten the tones of February, and austerities to bring in those bikini-lines in May.  Recipes, like romance, like good stories.  I get it.  But sometimes, most times actually, the birth of a certain recipe comes as forcefully and inevitably as the bad news it carries.  Sometimes, we just have to make something, quite simply, because it’s Monday.

I hate Mondays.  And please note, that coming from someone who is technically unemployed, that is saying a lot.  Because Monday feels like standing at the bottom of an endless stairwell, and a monkey is holding a $20-bill at the top.  Monday feels like watching the prelude of a documentary on counting alphabets in a foreign language without subtitles.  Monday feels like powering through the infuriating hunger on the last day of a juice-cleanse, but only that it is still the first day.  Monday feels like a brand new sandbag.  Monday makes my coffee tired.  So even though I’ve came up with this buttery scone stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta a while back, and have been waiting for the perfect timing to tell you all about it, it dawned on me that today, which is a Monday, is actually when your joy-deprived souls will need it the most.

This time-tested, my go-to scone-dough (or biscuit dough, whatever, who knows the difference really) is crispy and flakey on the surface, but its moist and crumbly interior houses a good dollop of creamy, slightly salty, zesty whole milk ricotta whipped with mascarpone and floral honey.  Eaten hot out of the oven, the oozy filling bursts enthusiastically to lift your most stagnant Monday-blues.  Eaten cooled with rewarded patience, and the thickened and embracive ricotta-mascarpone will moisten the crumbs like a scone carrying its own clotted cream.  I don’t know about you, but my Monday is nearing its end, and I haven’t yet raised the first thought to smash my computer on the pale wall.  And I say no human should go another Monday without it.

  
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FIGS AND RICOTTA CHEESECAKE POPSICLE

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IS IT ME OR THERE’S A ZINNGG INSIDE MY HEAD?

Leaving you quickly today with this beautiful inspiration I got from Erin Ireland on Instagram, gorgeous cross-sections of sweet figs being encased in a thick and creamy, lightly sea-salted ricotta “cheesecake” mixture, like frozen eternal jewels!  And we are not just talking about figs here.  Think peaches, summer berries, tropical dragon fruits or pineapples, KIWIS!  How pretty are those gonna be huh?!!

OK.  That’s about as much enthusiasm as I can spare today.  Is it me or do you hear a zinnnngg inside my head, too?  Now this head-aching zombie must go lay down.


  
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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

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YES, CHURRO WAFFLES

Gotta run today!  Leaving you quickly with yet another inbred waffle abomination.  Churros + waffles = churroffles.  Yes, apparently, churro waffles, too.  A clear proof that I spotted on Instagram, from Monochrome Bistro in Singapore, where they serve it with what looks like a huge scoop of cookies’n cream ice cream.  But you know, call me romantic.  I’d like to think that even after being barbarically deformed in between the burning metal teeth of a waffle griddle, that even when its own mother couldn’t recognise him anymore, that even when his previously tall and slender physique now seem like the mirage from another life… that deep down, churro still wants chocolate.  And chocolate still wants churro too, stubby and crooked as he is.  It’s true love.

So here it is.  Churroffles tumbled in light brown sugar spiced with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then go on to hug his soulmate, deep dark chocolate ice cream in a summer reunion.  Love is in the air.  Can you feel it?

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CHURROFFLE AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

Yield: 4 small sandwiches

The churro dough is adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

    CHURRO DOUGH:
  • 1 cup (235 grams) water
  • 5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp (45 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • SPICED SUGAR:
  • 1/4 cup (44 grams) light brown sugar, or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • TO FINISH:
  • 1~2 tbsp melted unsalted butter for brushing
  • Good chocolate ice cream

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Split 1/3 of vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and pods into a pot, along with water, unsalted butter, dark brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean pods and discard, then add the all-purpose flour all at once. Keep on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture has come into a thick paste/dough. Keep cooking and stirring for another min, until a thin film of dough starts to form on the sides and bottom of the pot. Now turn off the heat and continue to stir for another 30 sec to release excess moisture/steam. Set aside for at least 5 min until cool (so it doesn't cook the egg, or activate the baking soda prematurely before cooking).
  2. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients under "SPICED SUGAR" until even, and set aside. Preheat your Belgian-style waffle griddle on medium-high heat according to instructions. Now, beat the egg into the cooled dough with a whisk until very smooth (or with a handheld mixer with whisk attachment), then sprinkle the baking soda on top, and whisk again until even. Add about 2 tbsp of dough in the centre of the griddle, close the lid, and cook for 6~7 min until browned and crispy. The churroffles take slightly longer than other types of waffles, so if you don't mind them not being "round-ish", you can cook 2 at once on each side of the griddle (this dough won't expand much during cooking). Repeat until you're done with all the doughs, which should give you about 8 small churroffles.
  3. Let the churroffles cool on a cooling rack for 5~8 min, then brush very thinly with a bit of melted butter, then drench in the spiced sugar (spoon the sugar over the top so it gets into the folds). IT'S IMPORTANT to let them cool for at least 10~15 min before eating. The centre of the churroffles will appear gummy while hot, then once they cool down, will become light and airy. Sandwich a big scoop of good chocolate ice cream in between and dig in.

Notes

Because of the cooking method, the extra baking soda will help lift the dough and give the churroffles more air-bubbles in the centre.

https://ladyandpups.com/2015/07/08/churroffle-and-chocolate-ice-cream-sandwich/
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OMBRE SALTED CARAMEL FLAN POPSICLES

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IN A COOK’S UNIVERSE, THE BAKER’S REALM IS A MYSTICAL AND DANGEROUS WORLD

Recently, someone asked me what’s the typical number of trials I have to go through before arriving on a satisfying recipe.  And to that I said, “Two, I guess?  Most likely?”.  Well… in all honesty, I didn’t mean to lie.  I just forgot to ask, if they were asking the cook?  Or the baker?

I’m definitely more cook than a baker.  And as a more-cook, relatively speaking, I have a more optimistic repertoire of savoury things where I have demonstrated slightly more competence in not screwing up.  But in reality, if I were to take into account of the other side of the fence as well, the wild and parched, the untamed and unpredictable, the land of where the sweet things are… then my friend, I don’t think I have hairs enough to count my failures.  In a cook’s universe, the realm of the bakers is a mystical and dangerous world, governed by a whole different set of laws and physics and creatures who look beautifully from afar like a herd of pink unicorns, but once approached, will vaporize into a cloud of black smokes and swallow my expectations in whole.  It is scary.  And it is real.  And it is a place, unless guided by other wizards specializing in this black magic, that I do not like to enter lightly.

But sometimes the universe, especially my universe, is not perfect.  Sometimes there’s no precedent, or magic potion to follow for what I wanted to create, or more accurately, re-create.  For this instance, a childhood treat that Jason and I practically grew up with and hold dearly in our heart, the caramel flan popsicle (or as they called it in Taiwan, “pudding popsicle”) that we used to be able to buy in almost every convenient stores, but mysteriously vanished in the past decade.  And in times like these, I just had to hood up, bid the loved ones farewell, climbed over the fence, into the woods, and hoped that something, anything, would make it back in one piece.

Well, it didn’t.

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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

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THEY MELTED… THEY BUBBLED… THEN THEY GOT ABSORBED IN THE SWELLING CUSHIONS OF THE CRISPY EDGED, SOFT HEARTED, BUTTERY AND CHEWY BRIOCHE WAFFLES

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You know how like in the movies, when they really want to make you feel sorry for a certain character, let it be the sweetest human being or the most hated villain, doesn’t matter, that all they have to do is to show you a scene where he/she comes home to a dimly lit kitchen, where his/her inner loneliness get stripped naked in front of an even emptier fridge?  Yes, empty fridge.  What is it about an empty fridge that so tenderly strokes our sympathy?  I mean that trick works every time.  I mean, even the most stone-hearted audiences would feel something, must feel something, if they see… I don’t know, Darth Vader, after slaughtering a whole village of Ewoks, comes back to his space-chamber behind closed doors, and starts eating a half-empty jar of mustard with stale crackers (with that labored breathing oh god I’m gonna cry…).  I mean, that shit is just sad.

But lately, I’m starting to feel the opposite about my fridge.

I think, no, I believe, that if I were to take a photo from the inside of my fridge at any given moment in the past several months, it would probably strike a close resemblance of a jacuzzi pool, inside the Playboy’s Mansion, on a New Year’s Eve in the 80’s, right before countdown.  Or at the very least, the kind of chaotic and repulsive glut that I would imagine it to be…  There had been clearly some management issues, I admit.  It had gotten to a point where I actually cracked an egg with just my index finger, in the failed effort to rest it in between a head of cabbage and a jar of peanut butter, which sat on top a pot of stew next to 3 bags of kimchi.  I mean, it’s not the same kind of sadness, but this shit is just as bad.

So yesterday, I had to do something.  I committed what I would call, an inventory genocide, where I killed half of the population inside my fridge, ruthlessly, purely based on the justification of… well, illogical madness.  Anything that I couldn’t remember who or what or when or how it got here, or simply because it looked at me the wrong way, must go.  Just 5 minutes in, I could already see a ray of the fridge-light breaking through a cloud of blackened asparagus.  But just when I was red-eyed amidst my efficient bloodbath, I reached deep down to a corner of the fridge, and something stopped me dead on my track.

A box of forgotten but pristinely delicious, ground peanut brittle from the making of this.  I couldn’t… I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It looked so innocent, so sinless, in fact, completely filled with scrumptious roasted peanut flavours and practically, did I mention, ground salted caramels!  What kind soulless human being would I be if I put ground salted caramel to sleep!?  I must figure out a way to do them justice… and in a way, looking back now, I think that I have always known what it would be, the most buttery brioche waffle I have been wanting to sink my fingers in for quite some time now.  They call it, the liège waffles, the Belgian waffles, the yeasted dough practically drowned in butter then strangled with pearl sugar, browned and melted in between the searing teeth of a hot waffle-griddle, and it sounded just like the beautiful, alternative death for my well deserved victim.  I mean, what is a pile of ground roasted peanuts and crushed salted caramel, but the perfect brioche stuffing?

They melted… they bubbled… then they got absorbed into the swelling cushions of the crispy edged, soft hearted, buttery and chewy brioche waffles, while the rest of the undeserving fridge-scraps watched, howling in jealousy.  Not a bad way to go… not a bad way to go at all.

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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

Yield: 8 small waffles

Brioche/liege waffle dough is halved and slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

    BRIOCHE/LIEGE WAFFLE DOUGH:
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) whole mik
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp (12 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • FOR STUFFING:
  • Ground peanut brittle as instructed here, or you can ground any type of store-bought brittles the same way
  • Honey to drizzle

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine whole milk and water in a glass, then microwave on high for approx 50 seconds. It should feel very warm but doesn't burn, around 110F/43C (this will help the dough start faster). Transfer into a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hooks, or large bowl with hand-held mixer with dough-hooks, along with all-purpose flour, egg, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast, vanilla extract and salt. Knead on low until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, then on medium speed for 3 min until smooth and elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky at this point. Start kneading in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Only add the next when the previous addition has been fully incorporated, about 2 min for each tbsp. Once all the butter's been added, knead on high speed for 3~4 min, until very shiny, smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover with plastic-wrap and let proof for 1:30 ~ 2 hours, until fully doubled, then punch out the air and transfer to a working surface (the dough is so buttered up, you won't need to flour), and divide into 8 equal portions. Flatten 1 portion out into a flat disk about 1/4" thick (7 mm), then set on top of a small bowl (the natural dent will make the stuffing easier). Place 2 tbsp of ground peanut brittle in the center, then bring the edges of the dough together over the top and pinch tightly to seal. Try to make sure there's no holes or tears. Set aside and repeat with the rest (if there seems to be butter oozing out of the dough, it's totally fine).
  3. You can now either let the stuffed brioche proof again at room-temperature for 40 min, or space them over a sheet-pan covered with plastic-wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. I did this at room-temperature, but the overnight-method will result in better flavours. The brioche will expand and almost doubled again.
  4. TO COOK: Preheat your Belgian-style waffle-griddle on medium-high heat. There's no need to oil the griddle. Place 1 brioche in the center and cook according to the manufacture's instruction, for about 5~6 min until golden browned on both sides. If any peanut brittle oozed out of the waffle during cooking, just wipe them away before cooking the next. Place the cooked brioche on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest. Serve immediately with drizzled honey.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/06/26/brioche-waffle-stuffed-w-ground-peanut-brittle/

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APPLE FUNNEL CAKE W/ APPLE YOGURT SORBET

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The yellow bowl, my recent favourite for everything, is from Dishes Only.

I STARED HATEFULLY INTO THE FUNNEL CAKE LADEN IN CINNAMON SUGAR AND MELTED CREAM, THEN REACHED OUT MY TENTACLES AND TOOK ANOTHER “ONE LAST BITE”

I think we’ve all been there.  There, every year in the first week of June, when the temperature abruptly severs from the safe briskness that was Spring, and ready or not, takes a sudden dive into the skin-binding, armpit-greasing humidity and heat that lays the red carpet for the bikini-season to come.  When we realize that it’s already too hot to cuddle with the safety of our long-sleeves and sweatpants, but when we look down upon the masses that used to hanged so discreetly underneath the winter-coats around our waists, thighs and oh-fuck-everywhere, we see the rings of humiliations, as if in an awkward smile, still hanging.  And for the epic beach vacation forever in planning and the sleeveless dress that’s been waiting since 2005, that it is once again, all too late.

That moment came, or shall I say, ambushed me last weekend while I was spending an otherwise lovely afternoon on the patio of our favourite hang-out, The Taco Bar.  As usual, after an epic feast, we sat there rounding up the finale on their fantastic funnel cake with vanilla ice cream, which came in an oversized Chinese porcelain bowl as big as the size of our winter delusions, and all of a sudden, the sky clouded up and a low thunder roared deeply in the air (I’m not shitting you).  Right then and there, in a time-freezing moment amidst the pre-summer warmth, as shocking and hollowing as any unanticipated bad news, I felt the tip of my multi-rimmed belly and the surface of my bulging thighs behind the veil of the thin fabrics, unexpectedly… touched.  Yes, touched I said.  There are you who would either laugh this off completely as science fiction, the normal people.  Or there are you who would nod profusely in empathy, most of whom have been through a pregnancy of some sorts.  But me?  I’m just the f-word.  In the awakening, I stared hatefully into the funnel cake laden in cinnamon sugar and melted cream, but instead of pushing it away, I reached out my tentacles and took another “one last bite”…

That.  That was the moment when I realized… I had to come up with a version that is at least 5% healthier.

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THE PARADOX OF ICE CREAM-SPRING ROLL W GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

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…BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE.  THE REAL MIND-BLOWING PART IS THE LAST DESCENDING SPRIGS OF THE UNIMAGINABLE… FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES

If you were those who like to travel to unfamiliar places, see unfamiliar pictures, eat unfamiliar things, chances are that for many times, you have been caught up in moments where I’d like to call – the encounters of food paradox.  Foods that don’t make sense, shouldn’t make sense, but the moment we put one in our mouth, the argument between logics and instincts all quiets down, and the only sensation left with any capacity for thoughts, is how defiantly delicious it stood against our prejudice.   It changes everything, on top of the very least, our palette henceforth, will never be the same.  This post, I hope, is about exactly that.

I have been longing to find a way, an accessible angle, to tell you about a thing called, ice cream-spring roll.  It’s a common street-food in Taiwan, not particularly flashy or groundbreaking.  In fact, among the immensely competitive and ever evolving Taiwanese street-foodscape, one may even argue, standard stuff.  But if you have no affiliation with the food-culture from this island proud for nothing but, the concept of this ice cream-spring roll, with its deceivingly predictable name, may just very well be your next big revelation.  Up front, what is expected surely is that there’s ice creams, most likely local flavours like taro or mango but could also include strawberry and vanilla, which are rolled inside a chewy crepe made with simply flour, water and salt.  No innovation there.  But to make things more interesting, a tall pile of sweet nutty and salty ” sandy streusels” is being shaved directly from a ginormous brick of peanut and caramel brittle, matching its proportion to the ice creams to almost 1:2.  The shaved/ground peanut caramel brittle alone, already completely push the texture and flavour of the spring roll to another dimension, but, it doesn’t stop there.  The real mind-blowing part, is the last descending sprigs of the unimaginable, the last to belong in the dessert isle, the controversially pungent… fresh cilantro leaves.  What?!  

You know I would describe it to you if I could.  I’d say it’s melty, creamy, sandy and crunchy all encased inside a film of chewiness.  I’d say that it’s sweet with pops of saltiness, the permeation of powdered peanuts and caramel and a whiff of herbs in the back-note.  But for the life of me, I cannot describe to you the immense confusion upon the impact of the first bite, then the gentle surrendering into the next, then a breeze of exhilaration on the last.  So I won’t.  You’ll have to try this one out yourself.  Because, that’s the beauty of a food-paradox isn’t it?  One that does and should be lived outside the limitation of words.  Maybe you’ll hate it.  Maybe you’ll love it.  Whatever it is, we will celebrate the forever-forward exploration that is eating.

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