Category Archives: desserts

Recipe: Saffron and Cardamon Yoghurt (Shrikhand)

I originally encountered this recipe in a pack from the glorious (and sadly, now on hold) Curry Delights startup.  It is a beautiful, pale-yellow-tinted, cooling yoghurt dessert flavoured with cardamom and the honey-like scent of saffron, and I absolutely loved it – so much that I made it two nights running, in fact. 

Ambika and Vikram’s version of this dish was super-easy and very quick, but relied on a couple of products that I was unable to source in Australia, so once I ran out (i.e., about four days after first encountering the recipe), I was out of luck.  I did have recipes for Shrikhand in other books, but none of them looked quite right (though I *highly* approve of the one that suggests adding popping candy, and I will be doing this at the first opportunity), and most of them, being more traditional, required a longer preparation time, as the recipes relied on drained yoghurt.

But I was really craving those lovely, cooling flavours again this week, so I decided that it was time to see if I could cross the various recipes, modified slightly to my tastes, and make a version that was feasible here.

Short version?  I did, and it was glorious, and I’m writing it up right now, so that I don’t forget the quantities…

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saffron strands – a big pinch, crumbled between your fingers into a little bowl
250 g light cream cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar (slightly heaped, to be honest)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder, also heaped
350 g low fat Greek Yoghurt (nothing wrong with full fat, but the low fat Black Swan one is nicer than the full fat anyway, and frankly, this dessert does not need to be any richer than it is)
200g raspberries, to serve.  Trust me, you want something fresh and acidic. Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Franco-Australian Berry Trifle

It is no secret on this blog that I am very fond of Josephine’s beautiful French tea shop in Brunswick.  What I have perhaps not mentioned about Josephine’s is that in addition to her beautiful macarons, crème brulées, tarts, savouries and other handmade goodies, she also stocks a small collection of imported French goodies.

Among other things, these include Rose de Reims biscuits, which are a pink biscuit, rather like a small, elegant sponge finger, designed to be dipped in champagne.  They do not, alas, taste like roses, but they did instantly inspire in me a desire to make a pink version of my berry-mi-su trifle (which I could have sworn I wrote about here, but can no longer find anywhere on this site), spiked with rosewater and champagne.

So I did.  I dipped the pink biscuits into champagne from a tiny bottle I was given a few years ago, combined mascarpone and ricotta with a little sugar, and layered the whole lot with mixed berries tossed a little rose syrup.

And it was delicious – light and fresh and unexpectedly alcoholic, a delicious meal for a hot day.

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600 g mixed berries (prepared weight, any kind)
2 tsp rose syrup
250 mascarpone
250 ricotta (light ricotta works and then you can pretend this is healthy!)
50 g sugar
200ml champagne or chardonnay or any sparkling white
125g rose de renne biscuits (or sponge fingers)

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Recipe: Fruits in Liqueur

A couple of years ago, Diana Henry put out a book called Salt Sugar Smoke, which is all about preserving things.

I’m terrified of preserving things, because my kitchen is always full of dirty dishes and I’m convinced that no matter how careful I am about sterilising jars, I’m going to give everyone botulism.

However.  There was one collection of recipes that that looked so simple that it was basically irresistible.  Also, they are completely full of alcohol, and I defy any botulism bacteria to find a way in to something that is basically alcohol and sugar.

Lots of alcohol.  Lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol.  And sugar.

Lots of alcohol. Lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol. And sugar.

Also also, it’s November, and I’m about to get consumed by Christmas singing.  If I don’t get onto Christmas now, I’m basically stuffed.  And what could be more Christmassy than fruit preserved in excessive quantities of alcohol and sugar?

So on Sunday morning I hied me to the Farmers’ Market for stone fruits, and then to the bottle shop, where I proceeded to buy more alcohol than I have ever seen before (and probably considerably more than I have consumed in my lifetime to date, come to think of it), under the helpful supervision of the kindly Hannah at Dan Murphy’s, who took pity on my complete confusion about what eau de vie was and which kind of rum might work better in Confiture Vieux Garçon, and helped me find options that were not too outrageously expensive.

(She also very kindly did not look at me as though I was a total lush, though, to be fair, my obvious ignorance of what most of the things I was buying actually tasted like probably made it clear that I wasn’t a very promising candidate for alcoholism.  Though I did get quite distracted by a Sicilian blood orange liqueur which I could absolutely not justify buying…)

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Anyway, first, I want you to know that putting fruit in alcohol is awesome, and so is Diana Henry’s book.  My personal favourite recipe so far is the aforementioned Confiture Vieux Garçon, which is essentially a thing where you take fruit as it is ripe, mix it with sugar and cover it with brandy, kirsch or rum, and then leave it until the next round of fruit is ripe, at which point you sugar that and add it and cover it with more alcohol, and so on, until your jar is full of layers of different kinds of fruit, all thoroughly sozzled.

But the reason I’m really writing this post, the magic, glorious thing that I discovered this weekend is because I have discovered the ultimate Christmas gift recipe.  You can make it in November and then forget about it while you do all your mad Christmas parties and singing in December.  In fact, you want to make it in November, because it needs time to steep and become glorious.  It looks beautiful.  It tastes divine.  It is luxurious.  And it takes less than five minutes to make.

Do I have your attention?

Here it is:

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500 g dried nectarines
750 ml white muscat Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Australian Strawberry Trifle

This is one of those recipes that sort of evolved as I wandered along Sydney Road on the weekend, and then started poking around in my pantry at home. 

First, I fell for the beautiful tiny strawberries at La Manna, which were just begging to find their way into a dessert of some sort.  Then, my eyes were seduced by the enormous, glowingly-pink rosewater meringues at Josephine’s.  I pictured a sort of hot pink Eton Mess.  But as I came back from my walk today, I found myself drawn to the beautiful handmade sponge fingers at the Pasticceria on the corner of my street.  So I started thinking trifling thoughts… but trifle is very rich, and I really didn’t feel like making custard – especially when I already had meringues in the house and thus no simple use for all those extra egg whites…

A peek into my fridge, however, reminded me that I still had a bit of low-fat ricotta leftover from another recipe last week, as well as half a tub of mascarpone and a lot of low fat Greek yoghurt.    So that was the creamy part taken care of, though it was a little bit bland… which is when I remembered that I had a sachet of powdered strawberry gum, an Australian native ingredient from a Eucalypt with a sweet, fruity, floral sort of flavour that goes well with strawberries.

All that remained was to find a suitable soaking liquid for the sponge fingers, preferably something not too sweet and not too alcoholic – how fortunate that I had most of a bottle of Wild Dog Natural Produce‘s strawberry vinegar in the house.

The result?  A surprisingly light, fresh-tasting dessert with a wild pink topping.  I am not absolutely certain that the meringue was necessary to this recipe, but it certainly gave it a pizzaz it wouldn’t have had otherwise!  The strawberry gum made the ricotta mascarpone cream rather grey-looking, but the flavour was superb – and it complemented the strawberries beautifully.  I’ll be making this again.

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100g mascarpone
100 g low fat ricotta
100 g low fat Greek yoghurt
20 g brown sugar
15 ml powdered strawberry gum (optional, but magnificent if you can get it)
6 bit sponge fingers
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
2 punnets of strawberries (about 400 g once you’ve hulled them)1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 gigantic pink meringue (vanilla, rosewater, raspberry or another berry flavour)

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Recipe: Apricot Mousse, or possibly cold soufflé – a reconstruction

Happy Easter! I have heard the words ‘Christ is Risen’ in at least twelve languages, and have learned how having faith in the Resurrection is quite a lot like barracking for the Melbourne Demons, except that one’s hopes are more likely to be fulfilled in the former case.  (Apparently, our minister has been a Melbourne supporter since the mid-sixties.  During that time, Melbourne has won precisely zero premierships, and is mostly found holding up the ladder, or, as my father would have it, ‘lulling you into a false sense of security which may well turn out to be a true one…’).

Also, I finally got to sing a descant, so now I really feel like it’s Easter.  You can’t have a resurrection unless you spend serious time above the stave, that’s what I always say.  It’s possible that my doctrine is a little suspect…

My family used to have a big get together every Easter, with roast lamb and all the trimmings, followed by some sort of spectacular dessert, always provided by my Oma.  The year I was ten or so, she produced this amazing cold apricot soufflé, a beautiful, light, pale orange concoction, made even more exciting to my ten year old mind by the little Easter Eggs decorating it.

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I’m not sure why this recipe, of all the recipes Oma ever made, stayed with me, but it did.  And, of course, I have no idea what the recipe was.  I had hoped it would be in Margaret Fulton (I have found a number of Oma’s recipes, suitably adapted, in the pages of my Margaret Fulton cookbook), but the only apricot soufflé in her pages was a baked one – not ideal for when one is expecting guests, really.  I did, however, have a recipe for Apple Nougat Soufflé in a Family Circle cookbook from my childhood, and the combination of whipped cream, egg-whites and gelatine sounded about right for the effect I remember. (No, this recipe is not vegan.  Not even a little bit.  Sorry.  In fact, this might well be the least allergy-friendly recipe I’ve ever done – oh no, wait, it *is* gluten free, so that’s something!)

So it was just a matter of changing a lot of flavours.  And some of the method.  And… well, you know by now what I’m like with recipes.  The result is not Oma’s soufflé – I don’t think Oma would have used orange flower water, and she certainly wouldn’t have used peach schnapps or made a praline garnish – but it is light and fluffy and apricot-flavoured, and it does have little pastel Easter eggs on top.  The spirit is right, even if the actuality is a little altered.

(We lit candles at the service today for those who were no longer with us, and were told of the Latin American tradition of saying ‘presente’ as the names of the dead were read out, to indicate that they were still with us.  This is a tradition I like very much, and I hope it will be continued.  But for me, Oma is far closer to me in the making of this soufflé than in the lighting of a candle.  Presente!)

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1 1/2 cups of dried apricots
90 g butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon honey1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup peach schnapps
3 tsp gelatine
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp orange flower water
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup cream
small chocolate eggs in foil
 

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Recipe: Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

The trouble with hot days like this is that all the really *easy* desserts involve dairy.  So if you have someone visiting who can’t eat dairy, then you have a problem.  In the hope of solving this problem, I recently bought The Vegan Scoop, an entire recipe book devoted to dairy- and egg-free ice-creams.  There are some beautiful flavour ideas in there, but there’s just one little difficulty – all the recipes rely on soy creamer, which is relatively hard to get in Australia.  Also, I really don’t like the taste of soy.  Fortunately, almond milk and oat milk make lovely soymilk substitutes, and there’s always that standby, coconut cream, to provide that little extra bit of fat that makes ice-cream properly creamy.

The rhubarb crumble flavour was pretty much a matter of what I had on hand.  I’d made a sort of oat, almond and coconut granola to go with my breakfasts this week, and I’d roasted a lot of rhubarb to make Foolish Mess, so bringing the two together in an ice-cream was irresistible.  Also, I figured that the oat, almond and coconut flavours of the crumble would bring out the subtle flavours of these ingredients in the milk – and that way I could pretend I planned it all along!

The results are very pleasing, if I say so myself – rhubarb flavoured ice-cream with bits of chewy, slightly crunchy, sweet almond and coconut and oats throughout.  In fact, it tastes exactly like frozen rhubarb crumble, which is a little strange, actually. Weirdly wholesome for an ice-cream.  Which does allow you to pretend it’s healthy, of course…

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Your shopping list

500 g rhubarb
75 g vanilla sugar
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar or maple syrup
50 g rolled oats
50 g flaked almonds
25 g shredded or flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp tapioca or arrowroot powder
1 cup oat milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
150 g sugar

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Recipe: Foolish Mess

I am posting this recipe solely for the sake of being able to use this title.  Really, who wouldn’t want to eat something with such a silly name?  But it is also a logical name, because Foolish Mess is essentially a cross between Eton Mess and Rhubarb Fool – or it would be if I could bear to use that much cream.  It’s essentially a mixture of yoghurt and whipped cream with puréed rhubarb, fresh strawberries and pieces of meringue.

Which is another way of saying, it’s basically the perfect dessert.  Enjoy.

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500 g  rhubarb
75 g vanilla sugar
350 g low fat Greek yoghurt
150 g thickened or double cream
150 g strawberries, sliced
50 g meringues, crumbled

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Recipe: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

I blame FaceBook for this recipe.  I was just minding my own business, girding my loins for the next battle with spreadsheets, when FaceBook reminded me that this is strawberry season, and wouldn’t it be nice to make strawberry ice-cream?  As it happens, I had about three punnets of tiny strawberries in my fridge, waiting for me to think of something clever to do with them, and my first thought was that really easy strawberry frozen yoghurt recipe by David Lebovitz.  A sensible choice for a weeknight.  

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Only then for some reason it occurred to me that this frozen yoghurt doesn’t have eggs, therefore it was my clear duty to make it vegan.  (No, I don’t follow that particular leap of logic either.  This is just the sort of thing that happens in my head sometimes.  It can’t be helped.)  Almond milk seemed like the way to go, especially as I love the combination of strawberries with mint, and coconut milk would have been a bit overpowering.  And then I remembered another ice-cream recipe that I have, for fresh mint ice-cream with dark choc chips…

I wanted the smoothness that one gets from making a sorbet-ish syrup, but I also really like the freshness of an uncooked strawberry ice-cream, so I compromised by blending all the strawberries and then taking out half a cup and boiling them into a syrup with the sugar.  Though not very well, as they were determined to erupt from my slightly-too-small saucepan.  The results weren’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but the texture was somehow pure gelato.  I have no idea how one makes an actual gelato, but I seem to have reverse-engineered it.

It’s good.

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700g hulled strawberries (which is about 3 1/2 punnets before you hull them.  You’ll just have to eat the rest.  It’s a hard life.
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 sprigs of mint
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
100 g good dark chocolate (oh so very compulsory)

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Recipe: Creamy Decadent Quince Ice-Cream

closeI am so proud of this ice-cream – it’s the creamiest, softest, most beautifully textured ice-cream I’ve ever made, and it really is a total and utter fluke, because it was inspired by leftovers.

Every year at quince time, I find myself totally unable to resist buying more quinces than I can eat in a reasonable time frame.  I use them in sweet recipes, in savoury recipes, baked, poached or slow-cooked, and incorporate them into cakes, crumbles or tagines.  Which is odd, because I am never quite sure whether I like them – I’m just totally seduced by their scent.

Nigella Lawson has a wonderful recipe for roasted quinces in her cookbook, Feast.  You basically take a kilo each of water and sugar, make a syrup, halve the quinces, and bake the whole lot for a few hours (the recipe is on the internet, but since it isn’t from Nigella’s own site, I’d rather not link to it).  It’s incredibly sweet – in fact, you’ve pretty much just candied quinces by the time you are done – and you are left with these totally decadent, deep-red quinces in a thick, quince-infused syrup with an almost jammy consistency from the pectin in the fruit. You can only really eat it in small doses. 

Which is why I always end up, weeks or months after the quince season ends, with a little bowl of candied quinces and syrup in the fridge.  They don’t go off – that’s how much sugar we’re talking about – but the quinces do eventually start to harden a bit.  And you have this glorious syrup, which, I know, is just the thing to drizzle over cakes or ice-cream or whatever, except that I just don’t do that.  In fact, I don’t know what to do with it.

quince syrup

Well, I know now.  It makes the most *amazingly* flavoured and textured icing.  I think something about the way the sugar crystals are dissolved and the pectin thickens things changes the way the ice-cream freezes so that you don’t get ice crystals.  In a less fraught week, I’d look up what Harold McGee had to say on the subject, but at the moment, I’m mostly concerned with preserving this recipe while I remember it.

Because this is hands-down the best ice-cream I’ve ever made. I’m already looking forward to next year’s quince season.

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300 ml milk.  I used low-fat milk and it worked just fine.
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
100 g sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom
300 ml cream
2/3 cup thick poaching syrup from Nigella’s quinces
1 cup chopped candied quinces or caramel apples or both, if that’s what your fridge looks like, or neither, because this ice-cream needs no help

Now what will you do with it?

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First, you need to make custard.  Scary!  No, not really scary, because I know you already know how to make lemon curd and this is really no harder than that.

Split your vanilla bean lengthways, scrape out the seeds into a small saucepan, and pop the bean in, too.  And then try to figure out how to get the rest of the little, sticky seeds off your knife and fingers, where they now reside.

Heat the milk until it is nearly boiling, then remove it from the heat, and let cool for 15 minutes, so that the vanilla can infuse.

You could spend this time separating your eggs, actually.  Keep the whites for meringues or macarons, because you only need the yolks today.

Beat together the egg yolks, sugar and cardamom until they are pale and fluffy.  This won’t take very long.  Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture, beating constantly as you go.  You don’t want to cook the eggs, so do make sure the milk isn’t still boiling hot (and if it is, you also haven’t infused it long enough, so be patient!).

There are two ways you can make the custard at this point, because the objective is to heat everything slowly until it thickens, which is just before boiling point.  You want to go slowly so that you don’t get accidental scrambled egg custard, which pleases nobody.  Or at least, nobody that I know.  Traditionally, one whisks the egg mixture in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  I started off doing this, but it was taking *forever* so I got bored and decided to try a microwave method, similar to the one I use for lemon curd – basically, you put the microwave on at 50% power, and heat the proto-custard, taking it out every 60 seconds and whisking it like mad, until it starts to get thick.  Usually the point where you get one big, gloopy bubble and pull the whole thing out in a hurry is what you are aiming for.

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Lay a piece of gladwrap directly on the custard (this prevents it forming a skin), and put in the fridge until the custard is cold.  If you are impatient, like me, you can put it in the freezer, but do check on it every twenty minutes or so – you don’t want to freeze it yet.

Add in the cream, and stir it together well.

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Scrape in the quince syrupy-jam, and try to mix through, but don’t worry if the cold makes it all clump up a bit, because the churning seems to magically take care of that.  I have no idea how, but it does.

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Now you get to churn it!  And I’m afraid I am presuming for this purpose that you have a machine.   I’m sure the still freezing method would work, but my freezer doesn’t get cold enough for it.  Also, I’m lazy.  So.  Churn your ice-cream in your ice-cream maker until it’s beginning to look like soft-serve.

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You can use the churning time to cut up fruit, if you plan to put chunks in.

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If you are planning to put in quincey chunks, do so now.  Mine still had syrup attached to them, and the ice-cream promptly un-set, but it didn’t seem to matter, because I wound up freezing it from quite soft, and it still wound up amazingly creamy.

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Freeze the ice-cream for an hour or two, until solid.  This will never be a very solid ice-cream, it definitely has a soft-serve consistency and starts to melt pretty quickly at room temperature, but that’s OK, because it’s delicious.  It’s also quite sweet – one only needs a small serve.

One is happy, regardless.

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Variations

I can’t actually think of too many flavour variations, I’m afraid.  I mean, this recipe is born out of a fairly unique set of leftovers, and if I had anything else quite like it, it would be a different recipe.  It would be interesting to make something similar with a conventional jam, however.

In terms of food allergies, this is of course nut- and gluten-free and vegetarian, but not low-fructose, low-GI, or egg or dairy free, and certainly not vegan.  You might be able to replace the dairy with almond or soy milk and some sort of soy creamer; I’d certainly go with almond rather than soy if possible, for the flavour.  I would not use coconut milk here.  I’m afraid this would be a whole different ice-cream without the eggs, so I can’t help with that one.

This would be lovely paired with a pistachio cake or shortbread; a sprinkling of toasted pistachios over it would also be lovely (especially lightly salted ones, come to think of it).  But it’s beautiful alone, too.

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Two years ago: Recipe: Steph’s Sticky Date Pudding Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

Recipes: Warm Winter Fruit Salad

swollenThis dessert was inspired by the wintry weather and all that lovely dried fruit I bought from Happy Fruit a few weeks ago at the Coburg Farmers’ Market.  And then I ordered some freeze-dried fruit from TasteBom and it arrived with a little note saying that I was their 200th customer, and a few extra goodies, including the most luscious, plump-looking vanilla beans I’ve ever seen.  A perfect combination.

It’s a bit of a nostalgia dish for me – warm and comforting, and faintly reminiscent of my childhood – I think my mum used to make a more alcoholic version of this for dinner parties back in the 80s.

Best of all, the recipe is very simple, and quite delicious – the dried fruit plumps up and becomes pillowy-soft and infused with flavour from the vanilla and marsala, but mostly it just tastes wonderfully of itself.  And, I have to say, it’s pretty exciting to see the dried nectarines swell up until they actually look like nectarine halves.  But then, I am perhaps easily amused by such things…

dessert

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100 g dried apricots
100 g dried apples
100 g dried pears
100 g dried nectarines or dried peaches
50 g raisins
750 ml water
50 ml sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) marsala
half a vanilla bean
 

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