Back from a small accidental hiatus. Anyone who cosplays will know full well the drama that is cosplay crunch as the convention approaches. And they’ll know just as well the con plague that hits you after. Between being busy and sick there’s been no time to bake. But now its time. My favourite time of the year is approaching. Its almost Christmas, which means it is the perfect excuse to bake and bake and bake.
This week I eased into the festive season by baking a creme brulee with a twist. I had a lot of cream to use up and I wanted to try a Christmas-inspired creme brulee that wasn’t minty. Then the inspiration hit like it was always meant to be.
I love making tiny desserts. No matter what it is, making it into tiny, single serves always makes it better in my opinion. I also love making lots of desserts, so making them tiny means more people can have more variety. Whenever I have people around for a party or just for dinner I usually crack out as many teeny desserts as I can.
Recently, I bought a set of teeny tart pans and just could not wait for the chance to use them. So when I invited Cam’s parents around for dinner one night I leapt at the chance to bake these.
Every so often, Cameron will randomly pipe up with something he wants me to bake him. Something I usually forget about 20 minutes later. So I got him to join Pinterest, set up a board and asked him to pin things he wanted me to make. And then, like a devoted girlfriend, I forget to refer to it ever.
So when I’m excitedly chattering away about the next dessert idea I’m conjuring up in my head, he’ll subtly nudge me about the thing he really wants. The last few times the dessert of choice has been a milk tart. Last weekend we were both off doing different things and I got home before he did, so while I had some time to myself I thought I’d surprise him by finally knocking this pastry off of his wishlist.
Milk tart, or melktert in Afrikaans, is a dessert that hails from South Africa. He first tried when a South African colleague of his bought one to work for the Big Cake Bake, a charity event they were hosting at work. Ever since, he’s intermittently nudged me about making one.
Part of the reason for my being so slow in fulfilling this wish was how bland it sounded. I don’t know about you guys, but any treat with milk in the name that isn’t a milkshake doesn’t really inspire my appetite. Dilute and bland were the first words that struck my mind upon the mention of it, so I procrastibaked and found something else to try.
I was more than happy to discover how wrong I was.
So many macarons lately means so many spare egg yolks. And when there's egg yolks to use up there's only one possible solution: custard. Especially when your boyfriend loves custard a little more than he loves you. I'm totally cool with that. Custard is pretty amazing. Custard is especially amazing when it's in a crème brûlée.
I love a plain crème brûlée as much as anyone, but I also love playing with the flavours. When I first started baking I used to follow all sorts of different recipes whenever I wanted a different flavour custard, but after some failures and some successes I discovered that altering a classic shouldn't mean altering the recipe. Start with a trusty blank canvass recipe and add a subtle twist.
This twist incorporates two of my favourite flavours: coffee and chocolate.
Keeping it simple…
It's been a while since I've been able to participate in the Daring Bakers' Challenged for one reason or another. In fact, I think this might be my first challenge of the year. And what a challenge to jump back in on! This month, Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!
One of my favourite things about the Daring Bakers' challenges is getting to try things you've never head of before. The Prinsesstårta was one of those things. Brand new, but my oh my it sounded heavenly. Sponge cake, custard, jam and whipped cream — let me at it!
When I described the challenge to my boyfriend, he said he thought the cake might be an appropriate treat for his dad's birthday cake.
The occasion warranted a couple of minor changes…
My favourite thing in the world is make bite-sized versions of food. I love catering parties and making everything tiny. An idea I've had swimming around my brain for years was tiny crème brûlées. I'd been on the hunt for ceramic Chinese soup spoons every time I entered a home wares store, but could never find any, let alone white ones. All I could ever find was plastic or metal spoons – not very oven friendly, or mouth friendly after having been near a blow torch.
So when my sister got me this amazing canapé set for my birthday, without even knowing how much I'd wanted to make this dessert, I know just how to break it in.
And break them in I did…
This final instalment of the 12 Days blog series is another creation I make most years. I usually make many different kinds of truffles for Christmas and put a few aside to dress up as mini puddings. This year I'm not making a truffle tree, so rather than grabbing a few choice spares, I chose a cake recipe especially for the occasion.
We don't really like the traditional steamed puddings in our household. One we do like, however, is the untraditional chocolate and raspberry version. These truffles are made from chocolate and strawberry cupcakes to represent our ideal steamed pudding.
Lots more under the cut…