Friday, May 15, 2015

Culinary Confessions

Peeves, preferences, confessions, pets - triggered by a decade (wow!) old David Lebovitz post. Somehow stumbled upon it while browsing for a brownie recipe, but I digress. 

1. I refuse to set foot into a restaurant when the hostess who takes my reservation over the phone is inexplicably rude.

2. Unless butter is a star ingredient, I bake with a combination of Butler margarine / butter from Phoon Huat. A kind, elderly homebaker confidently reassured me - 'Don't worry! No difference, UNLESS you make a sugee cake. Or butter cake..' So my wallet and cakes take her wise words to heart.

3. Had my first taste of foie gras the other day. Tried to go in with an open mind, failed abysmally . Prefer my intestines (Kway Chap! Soondae!) chewy. 

4. The difference between store brand chocolate cookies and Oreos are indistinguishable to me. 

5. Some of my favourite places to dine out in Singapore are no frills, unpretentious chains that have been around for years. HELLO SWENSENS! Try their meatball spaghetti bake, THEN YOU JUDGE.

6. Because I'm such a skinflint, I almost never pay $10 for a slice of cake at homegrown patisseries and head instead to Four Leaves or Rive Gauche Bakery for the Coco Exotic / Guanaja slices. So chocolatey, so crunchy, so rich, so CHEAP!

7. I judge restaurants by the quality of their bread baskets. 

8. I love making and eating my own cakes best (who doesn't?) but am slavishly loyal to Cedele's cakes. DARK CHOCOLATE FUDGE FTW.

9. I would revisit a restaurant with average food but excellent, warm service over one that has delicious food and crappy waitstaff. 

10. Ordering food that you can make yourself at home in restaurants BEFUDDLES ME. You hear that, $18 scrambled eggs on toast? 

11. I love Asian drinks more than Western brews. Milo, Thai iced tea, banana milk, soya bean milk, herbal grass jelly, lemon tea, longan tea, bubble tea. SO MANY TEAS! 

12. Some of my best travelling memories are interwoven with food. Especially when the weather is cold and rainy, and you have a steaming bowl of miso soup, sour kimchi and a bursting roll of spicy meat kimbap with seasoned vegetables in front of you. And your best friend. Because what's food without company to share it with?

13. Every country I visit, I make it a point to study their McDonalds' menu. France has baguettes, Germany has bagels, Korea has red bean pie but Singapore's McSpicy has MY HEART. 

Those are off the top of my head... What are yours? 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gianduja Mousse Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

An ode to Nutella.

That’s what this tart is to me, at least. Some of my acquaintances bake frequently, but don’t eat their desserts. Now this befuddles my raging sweet tooth. Why bake, stir, mix, fold, frost IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DEVOUR THE CREAMY, LUSCIOUS PUDDING DESSERT ( See below) IF YOU’RE GOING TO ABSTAIN? Granted, my enthusiasm for all sweets makes gym sessions more frequent (Sigh), but I share the loo0o0ove with my family. So obviously I have to marry the Cheangs’ familial tastes into a singular dessert.


Such a mouthful but only when you PUT THE WHOLE DAMN THING IN YOUR MOUTH… (Strongly suggested). When your whole family loves meat and dessert was always a far far afterthought in the household, you know something is a keeper when the WHOLE MOUSSE PIE VANISHES THE NEXT DAY.  

The star really is the hazelnut mousse, made with pure hazelnuts instead of just Nutella – creamy, luscious and melts with every mouthful. The crust is a no brainer press in, so don’t skip the extra steps to make this nutty, boozey confection! 

Gianduja Mousse Pie with Oreo Cookie Crust

For the Oreo cookie crust
·    24 Oreo cookies
·    ¼ cup melted butter
In a medium-sized bowl or a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and blend until the texture of coarse meal or crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until well combined.

Place the ground crumb mixture into a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and press onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Tip : I like to use a measuring cup to make layers even.
To make the hazelnut butter
2 cups roasted and skinned hazelnuts (Can be bought from Phoon Huat)
Process the nuts until smooth and blended. This will make a helluva lot of noise as it takes 12-15 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides occasionally. Continue until you have a runny, smooth paste.
For the Gianduja mousse
·       6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
·       1-1/2 cups heavy cream
·       2/3 cup hazelnut butter at room temperature
·       2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
·       2 tablespoons Baileys’ liquor
·       2 bananas, sliced thinly
·       2 tablespoons Nutella, microwaved till runny
·       2 teaspoons lemon / lime juice

To make the mousse

Melt chocolate in a microwaveable bowl in 30 second bursts, until smooth and melted. Stir. In a separate small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the cream over medium heat to just below the boiling point. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and stir together with the spatula until well blended. Using a handheld mixer, add the hazelnut butter and vanilla, Baileys and mix till smooth. 
In a chilled mixing bowl, using chilled beaters, beat the remaining 1 cup cream until it holds soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in four batches, blending thoroughly after each addition. Pour the mousse into the prepared individual cookie crusts.
Garnish with thinly sliced bananas and chopped hazelnuts. Using a fork, drizzle the pies with a melted Nutella sauce. Brush the bananas with lime juice to prevent them from browning. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. 
Baker’s Notes
1.    This dessert is best made in stages, as there are many steps. I’d suggest making the Oreo cookie crust and nut butter on day 1. Finish the mousse and filling the tarts on day 2.
2.    Yellow bananas that just ripe are perfect as a firm garnish. Their brown, spotty counterparts are too mushy. If you are making these ahead, brush the bananas with lemon / lime juice. The acid prevents them from browning.

3.    I love love love Baileys’ and they gave such a boozy kick to the mousse. You can also add Frangelico liquor to punch up the hazelnut flavour.