Oct 31, 2008


I made truffles again! But these were the result of total experimentation and randomness, but turned out surprisingly amazingly good that I can't wait to make them again! Do you like nutmeg and chocolate? Well if you do, then these truffles are for you! I personally adore nutmeg and chocolate together, but add a bit of praline chocolate, an orange-y flavour and a crispy dark chocolate shell and you have got what I am posting about today. Unfortunately, I have only one photo to share (lighting was really terrible, I took the photos in the evening!) but it is better then nothing I guess! At least you can see how creamy the interiour remains when you bite into these easy-to-make and lovely to share truffles!

Recipe for Nutmeg & Orange Praline Truffles:

200gr praline chocolate
100gr liquid cream, 30%
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon orange essence
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
150gr dark chocolate, melted in a bain-marie
Caramel crispy bits (and can also be replaced with Praline crispy bits)

Heat the liquid cream in a small pot. Add the orange zest and essence and let the flavours infuse for a good hour. Transfer the liquid cream into another pot using a strainer in order to remove the zest. Heat again, then remove from heat. Add the praline chocolate, and cover pot, leave for 5 mins. Remove cover, and stir the praline ganache until it is smooth and shiny. Place ganache in fridge for about an hour, then shape ganache into small balls. Mix the melted dark chocolate with the caramel crisps in a deep container. Throw in the praline ganache balls so that they are fully coated, and remove with a fork onto a dish covered with parchment paper. The chocolate coating will solidify quite quickly, but the praline interiour will remain rich and creamy!

Oct 27, 2008


Yes I know, I know, Christmas is not here just yet... but... I am starting to feel it's spirit in the kitchen already! And with this approaching feeling of pine trees and festive tables comes the traditional mood of making chocolate truffles, which of course is a staple item to share and enjoy anytime between Christmas and New Years (and any other time of the year too actually). But anyway, my point is that I particularly enjoy making truffles most towards the end of the year, and this time I made jasmine & chocolate truffles. This flavour combination came up after having seen it at famous Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini who includes jasmine & chocolate ganaches amongst his many other incredibly tempting flavours. And by lovely coincidence, I happened to come accross a bottle of jasmine essence while exploring some Asian food shops the other day (because finding jasmine flowers this time of the year and in this geographic part of the world is quite mission impossible). I must say however, that the essence I used was VERY very very strong, that a drop or two is enough to flavour and add a wonderful scent. Really, a drop too much and you can say goodbye to your truffles. You know how I know? Because during a first small batch trial, I did a jasmine overdose and although the kitchen smelt lovely, but taste wise it was too overpowering. So the key here is tasting with each drop you add- literally. The jasmine should complement the chocolate in a discreet and elegant manner. Finally, I rolled half of the truffles in cocoa, and the remaining half in coconut...but I personally felt that the coconut made a better combination with the jasmine. In my opinion, it just added more exoticism without masking the base flavours.
So I sense that this is just the beginning of my seasonal truffle experimentation, and I will certainly be exploring other combinations in the coming weeks & months. One thing I love about truffles is that there is so much versatility to it's core recipe, and even better, everyone loves truffles (I have personally never met anyone who has said "no" to a truffle before!). Before you scroll down to the recipe, I would just like to say that my recipe does not include butter, although many truffle recipes do. The reason I excluded butter was for health reasons and also that it tastes just as good without it!
Recipe for jasmine & chocolate truffles:
350gr dark chocolate, broken into pieces
170gr creme fraiche
300gr dark chocolate for coating, 70%, melted in a bain-marie
100gr bitter cocoa or coconut
Boil the creme fraiche and add a drop of jasmine essence (you will have to control the quantity of essence to add by tasting). Pour the hot creme fraiche onto the dark chocolate pieces. Leave it to melt for about 5 mins. Then stir to obtain a shiny ganache with a consistent texture. Place in fridge for 2 hours. Form balls with the cooled ganache mixture, and pass twice into the melted dark chocolate (the one melted in a bain marie). Place balls in fridge for about 30 mins, then roll in cocoa or/and coconut.

Oct 23, 2008


Years ago, back at school, I have to say my FAVOURITE class ever was chemistry- without a doubt! Not many people enjoyed it, but I thought it was the most interesting class ever and it just made me understand so many things about how things work in life. I absolutely loved all that talk about atoms and electrons and all those lab experiments that ranged from making soap to chlorophyll fluorescence. At one point I actually wanted to pursue a career in chemistry and was ready to wear a lab coat for the rest of my life (specifically in the cosmetic industry- I wanted to understand the science behind mascaras and lipsticks hehe). Well, it turns out that there is one thing we never got to in chem class which was making honeycomb candy. Apparently, this is one of things that all students end up doing in chemistry 101. Well I didn't, and now I am making up for it later on in life. And one day I hope I will take some serious time to read in great depth all the chemistry behind food and cooking, because I am sure it must be incredibly insightful. So for this post there is nothing spectacular really- it's just about making honeycomb candy and is also an opportunity for me to mention a blog that I recently discovered and that I am completely hooked on: Playing with Fire & Water. "Foodplayerlinda" (the author behind the blog) is incredibly talented, and it is off her blog that I picked up the honeycomb recipe. Except I think hers turned out better then mine, hehe. The holes are bigger on hers! Recipe for Honeycomb candy (off Playing with Fire & Water):

3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbspns water
2 Tbspns honey
1 1/2 tsps baking soda

Before starting anything, have all your ingredients ready at hand and a greased baking sheet already covering a deep plate or mould. Place the sugar in a saucepan and place on heat. Then add in the water and honey and let everything melt together. Small bubbles will then form (as in when you make caramel), let those bubbles become larger and watch the colour of the mixture carefully. Once it is of a light golden colour, remove from heat and immediately add in the baking soda, stir for SECONDS (you have to be quick here, once the mixture starts going "poof" you cannot leave it that way for too long! Or else your honeycomb candy will have the tiniest holes ever. Trust me, I messed up on this the first time). Very quickly, dump the mixture onto the baking sheet and let it harden for about 15 mins.
Enjoy on its own, or coated with chocolate, or add bits of it into a chocolate mousse, yoghurt or ice cream.

Oct 20, 2008


Guys, today I am not so much in the mood for writing so I will keep it short and let the pictures speak for themselves.
I am introducing today a different kind of panna cotta. It's not your classic panna cotta served with a raspberry or chocolate coulis. It's a panna cotta that, I feel, represents a lot of who I am and the things I love. First off, you can clearly see my love for Italy in here as panna cotta is obviously an Italian dessert. Secondly, you can see parts of my Middle Eastern & Greek origins with the use of cardamom and mastika (of which I left for you a series of photos, as it turns out that mastika is a very fun item to photograph!). Cardamom and mastika are traditionally used in Middle Eastern desserts, either seperately or both together. I prefer using them both together :-) And lastly, third of all, the use of persimmon represents my spontaneous almost impulsive approach in cuisine as it ended up being a last minute addition to the recipe. It turns out that persimmom, out of all the fruits in this world, tastes wonderful with the milky creaminess of a panna cotta. We just happened to have persimmons lying around in the kitchen, and the minute I set my eyes on them I knew that I had to include them! Voila, that is how my reasoning often works in the kitchen you see :-)

Use your usual "plain" panna cotta recipe, but when boiling the liquids, add in cardamom and mastika (you can usually get this at Greek, Turkish or Middle Eastern food shops). Top off with persimmon slices and a persimmon coulis. Enjoy!
P.S: Mastika can come in two forms: a creamy paste (like the in the pictures above) or in the form of "crystal" grains.

Oct 17, 2008


You know what? It has been ages (I'm talking years here) that I haven't had breakfast. I just happen to be one of those "not breakfast people" persons. I have no problem for sipping a strong coffee in the morning, but anything more then that I just can't. Why? Well I think it comes down to two main reasons:

1) breakfast items are just "boring" to me. Yes people, cereal, milk, croissants, eggs & Co just don't make me excited to get out of bed and eat.

2) breakfast makes me sleepy. So by now you are definately thinking that I am a bit odd, no? Well I don't know, but everytime I "try" to have brekkie, well I get sleepy and something funny happens with my digestion. It's that same sleepy feeling you get after a heavy lunch or dinner.

So voila, now you know something more about me and that I am not one of those breakfast people. The other day however, I found some green tomato jam and exceptionally for once, I had breakfast. It was once, and who knows if it will happen again, but since the day I bought this green tomato jam I have been wanting to do tons of things with it. And the first thing I checked off my list was adding a spoon of it into a yoghurt, muesli and candied ginger mix. I mean some of you breakfast people have yoghurt and muesli for breakfast right? Sometimes with a dab of honey, no? Well here we replace the honey with green tomato jam and add in some to the rescue-homemade-so called-"candied" ginger. Is this making your stomach grumble or is it sounding a bit too overwhelming in a strange kind of way? Well, maybe I don't like breakfast, but I like experimenting around with flavours and this I thought tasted very good. The question now however is, will I start bringing breakfast back into my life again???
Above: green tomato jam is yummy!
Below: so called "candied" ginger which in fact was just a rescue plan made from fresh ginger as I had no candied form at the time.
My once-in-a-lifetime-breakfast:
Green tomato jam
Muesli- and I recommend the crunchy kind
Candied ginger, diced

Mix everything together and set quantities according to your personal preferences. Enjoy!

Oct 16, 2008


Sorry guys, but I don't have the best photos for this post, but let me tell you I think I have found the BEST crème de marrons based cake recipe ever! After chocolate, the next best thing for me has to be anything sweet and chestnut-ey (I cannot wait until it's Christmas time for a marrons glacés sugar-high moment)! So although on photo, these cakes might look plain, boring or "regular", let that not give you the same impression on the taste. And I should add, the texture too (which is divine, moist in a creamy kind of way). I especially noticed that if you wait 24hrs before eating these, they will taste even better... for some unexplicable reason! And on the upside, this recipe is very low in fat as it happens to be that there is no fat in crème de marrons (something I actually just found out recently) and as you will see, butter does not feature in the list of ingredients. So the only fat comes from the egg yolks and the chocolate. What more can you ask for in this autumnish rather cold time of the year then one of these cakes and cuddle up near a fireplace with a rich luscious hot chocolate?
P.S: I am making these again, hopefully some time soon, but with an improved look and presentation!
Recipe for crème de marrons & chocolate yummies:

75gr dark chocolate, melted in a "bain marie"
300gr crème de marrons (the sweetened kind)
Vanilla extract
1 full egg
40 gr flour
2 egg whites, whisked

Making it:

Preheat oven to th4/160C. Mix the melted dark chocolate, the creme de marrons and vanilla extract in a bowl. Then add the full egg and mix. Then add the flour and mix again. Finally, transfer the whisked egg whites and mix everything gently. Place in mould and bake for 15mins (if you are using small moulds like I did). Let cool, remove cakes from mould, and ideally (if you can wait), cover them up and place in the fridge for 24hrs before degustation. Enjoy!

Oct 13, 2008


Ever since I had discovered the Heston Blumenthal Chocolate popping candy cake via Chubby Hubby's blog, I have been hooked! Although I do admit that I have not tried out the recipe in it's entirity yet, I have been making lots of fun chocolates out of the popping candy base part. Last week, I went around sharing bits and pieces of the amusing chocolate to friends, family and colleagues at work presenting the sweet with the undercover name of "chocolate with caramel crisps"- as the popping candy kinda looked like bits of caramel...to only see their reaction a few minutes later as they were laughing away and recalling memories of their childhood, and realizing that the caramel cover up was just a bluff.
I really love sharing food that can produce this kind of effect!
And one thing that helped me this time was ordering the popping candy online. As I had stated in my previous post, it was extremely difficult finding popping candy in the first place here in Paris, and when I did find it, it was always accompanied with a lollipop. So I ordered about 50 packs of popping candy on a UK website called KeepItSweet. It was my first time ordering through them, so I was a bit skeptical, but when the order was in my mailbox a few days later I was very pleased and will definately consider buying through them again for any future Fizz Wiz needs (Fizz Wiz is the UK name for Pop Rocks- they are both manufactured by the same company too I believe).
As I've mentionned before, it's easy to make but you have to be very careful about not letting a single drop of water accidently jump into your mixture during the preparation!
Recipe for popping candy chocolate, based on an extract of Heston Blumenthal's cake recipe:


85g whole hazelnuts
40g milk or dark chocolate
2 tsp mixed spice
100g popping candy (the biggest you can find from your local sweet shop)
1 sachet of popping candy for decoration (optional)

Making it:
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas Mark 4 and roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Blend to a paste in a food processor, then set aside. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (a large basin over a saucepan of simmering shallow water — take care that the water does not touch the basin) and stir in the ginger spice and popping candy. Next, fold in the hazelnut purée. Transfer the mixture onto a rectangular or square mould that has been covered with parchment paper. Optionally, you can then sprinkle a sachet of popping candy over this mixture just for decoration and for the "caramel crisp" bluff. Cover with aluminium paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until hard and when serving break the "popping candy chocolate" bar into pieces to serve.