I’m really happy when someone requests for a chocolate cake. And Jane did just that for her 17th birthday this year.
I knew exactly which cake to bake for her. It was one of those…never baked before but looks extremely good from the recipe and have been bookmarked for ages…kind of cake. Not surprisingly, this cake is one of Pierre Herme’s – the Autumn Meringue Cake. This cake was described as a simple cake that “tantalises, satisfies, and delights your five senses” in Pierre Herme’s cookbook and I’ve no doubt that this cake did just that.
Yesterday was Singapore’s 48th birthday. For my immediate and extended family, it is a day where we get together, have a feast and watch the national day parade on television. It is actually pretty exciting because from where I stay, we can hear a little of the activities going on, such as the helicopters and when the F16s flown by the Singapore Air Force flies by the house. Year on year, the sequence of the national day parade is somewhat predictable, which in my opinion makes it quite fun. We’ll always ask questions like “has the contingent marched out?” “is the President out yet?” just to ensure we don’t miss out on anything.
The first time I made truffles was when I was in Seattle. I’ve always been a big fan of dark chocolates. I’m not a milk chocolate kind of person, and definitely not a white chocolate kind of person – I love my cocoa!
Getting to eat a chocolate truffle is a real treat since it is really decadent, but also really expensive. The first time I made champagne truffles, I was mesmerized at how easy and decadent it is. Unfortunately, I’ve to say that while it is easy to make truffles in the US, it is tough to do it back in Singapore. Since moving back, I’ve always had trouble sourcing for chocolate. They are either mediocre chocolate, or really really expensive. Once, when I decided to make Pierre Herme’s Riviera for my mom’s birthday, his recipe suggested to use a particular type of Valrhona chocolate. In an attempt to make it perfect, I went to the store to see how much it would cost. After some calculations, the cost of chocolate alone for a 9-inch cake would be more than a whopping SGD$100 (USD$78) – absolutely ridiculous and crazy. From then on, my siblings, whenever they go in and out of the US, would carry 10lb blocks of chocolate for me. I would in turn bake them awesome goodies :)
To me, birthday cakes are an integral part to any birthday celebration. I am quite sticky about this, and maybe a tad too opinionated. I always feel that no matter how great a birthday celebration is, something is always missing when there is no birthday cake.
Just as I am thinking a little more about why I feel this way, I guess what makes a birthday really special is during that couple minutes where the whole group, as one, dedicates a birthday song to that person. It is really that couple of minutes that everyone comes as one, and focuses on wanting to give joy to someone else. In a society where we many a time take things for granted and move too quickly, stopping for a couple of minutes to appreciate someone’s life really makes a difference.
For the longest time, I had been struggling with my cuisinart ice cream machine. It worked well when I was in US but since I brought it home, it has been giving me a multitude of problems. At home, we have quite a few american appliances and due to different voltage, we have a huge voltage transformer. My kitchenaid, and many other american appliances have worked great but the cuisinart was a different story. Sometimes, nothing would be wrong and I would churn out ice cream fine. Sometimes, it would run for 15 minutes and switch off by itself and not be able to turn on again. At other times, the same thing would happen for 10 minutes. One day, it decided to not turn on again, and I guess it was gone forever.
This time when I went back to Seattle, I decided to bid the voltage problems goodbye, and get the kitchenaid ice cream maker attachment. I must say that in terms of churning out good consistency ice cream, this attachment is really really awesome. I must say though, my only problem with it is pouring the mixture in. Due to all the stirring and cooling involved, I tend to place the mixture in wide mouth bowls and containers so that they would cool faster. It is actually quite hard to pour the mixture in while the machine is turned on (which is what you’re supposed to do) since the space available to pour the mixture in is very limited. Hence, it has been quite a feat so far with me holding the mixture and another person holding a funnel, positioning it strategically over the bowl but not touching the moving parts – sounds complicated, right! So, until I find a better way, I love my new ice cream maker attachment just about 99%.
David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop ice cream book is highly recommended for anyone who loves making ice cream. It is the only recipe book I have that’s dedicated to ice cream and it has served me very well so far. I like it that the book has a combination of very easy to make recipes when you feel like whipping something up in 10 minutes, Yet, the book also has complicated recipes if you’re looking for a challenge or for a recipe to impress.
When I first flipped open the book, the first recipe that caught my eye is the gianduja gelato! I always pick a hazelnut ice cream when I go to gelato shops and I just couldn’t wait to try making it myself.
Sometimes, I enjoy the challenge of making large, towering, gravity defying cakes. At other times, I enjoy using interesting ingredients to making sophisticated cakes with delicate flavors. Not to forget, there are other times where I’m looking for a simple yet satisfying cake. For me, that cake is none other than david lebovitz’s chocolate pavé.
I crave chocolate…a lot.
Many people tend to stay away from chocolate desserts at restaurants. As for me, I’ll choose a chocolate dessert 9 out of 10 times for the simple fact that… I LOVE chocolate. (that’s an understatement by the way)
I like chocolate on its own. It is nice to have some other simple ingredients complement chocolate BUT, I really just like chocolate, chocolate. Hence, David Lebovitz’s devil’s food cake is one of my favorites because its just… chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. (I just realized that I’ve used the word “chocolate” 11 times :P)