Tag Archives: sweet

Making Madeleines

Making Madeleines

When I hear ‘Madeleine’, my first thought is always Marcel Proust.
But my second, is always butter.

I originally expected that unsalted would be the name of the game here, having spied ‘unsalted’ mentioned in the majority of recipes I’d looked at over the years.

Making Madeleines

I’ve been experimenting with Madeleines for the last month or so, after receiving a Bakers Secret non-stick Madeleine pan from Kitchenware Superstore, and I’ve found I much prefer my Madeleines ‘seasoned’, somewhat, by using melted salted butter over unsalted.

My favourite recipe so far has been Dorie Greenspan’s Madeleine Recipe. I found it super helpful, especially with Dorie’s additional notes on refrigeration (overnight AND in the tray for at least an hour before baking), plus tips on achieving the tell-tale Madeleine ‘hump’ through the use of a pre-heated searing hot baking tray (or baking stone).

Take note and cool your melted butter before you incorporate it. And while you’re at it, spring for the salted like I did.

I used plain (all purpose) cake flour, which has low gluten to keep cakes nice and soft.

Making Madeleines

Suffice it to say I’ve been pretty pleased with my own Madeleine experiments (and J’s definitely enjoyed eating them)!

I’d always assumed Madeleines would be difficult to make and/or destined to fail, but I’ve found that provided you follow the recipe you’re using carefully, you’ll end up with delicious results.

My latest batch (flavoured with vanilla bean and orange zest) was a hit, resulting in 24 Madeleines that were light, sweet and soft, yet sturdily textured bites of golden buttery goodness.

Madeleines are best enjoyed straight out of the oven. Dunking in tea optional, though you may disagree with that if you’re a fan of Swann’s Way.

Making Madeleines

Disclosure: Product provided by PR for review purposes. All opinions provided are my own, and I have received no other compensation for this post.

Sweet treats from Maison Saint-Honoré

Sweet treats from Maison Saint Honore

A quick update, to bring you the perfect Canele: with a sweet burnished exterior that’s chewy and slightly crisp – thanks to the addition of beeswax. The centres are soft and yielding; delicately vanilla fragranced and almost custardy, with just a tiny kick of rum.

Sweet treats from Maison Saint Honore

And two crisp little macarons – honey and thyme; striped with green and a classic salted caramel. Maison Saint-Honoré uses an interesting butter cream filling, that’s different to others I’ve sampled. It’s a little more solid than creamy in this chilly weather, but still carries the flavours beautifully.

Although honey and thyme are perfect partners, I found the savouriness of the thyme a little unsettling! I think the salted caramel is really more of a “me” flavour. But with so many others to sample, I think I’d be tempted to stray from my favourites in search of other interesting delights.

Maison Saint-Honoré  on Urbanspoon

For more information, visit the Maison Saint-Honoré website!

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation


On Wednesday night, I joined a group of fellow food bloggers at Restaurant Amuse, for their much talked about, much anticipated, dessert degustation.

Some of us hadn’t met before, but it didn’t take long for us to get settled in, chatting about recent eating experiences, cameras and all things food related.

Have I ever mentioned how great it is to dine with fellow food bloggers?
Reasons why I love it:

  1. No one blinks when you say, “wait, can I take a photo of that?”
  2. You’ve always got somebody (or in our case, several somebodies) who is willing to hold up an iPhone ‘torch’ to illuminate your plate
  3. Sharing food and drinks is not only accepted, but encouraged!

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Golden scream, $10, pineapple mocktail

Our menu for the evening was strictly dessert – but I’m not going to say strictly sweet, because, as we discovered, the team at Amuse have a thoroughly creative view of what constitutes dessert.

We were treated to an insight on what was in store for the evening, from wife of the Chef, and front of house manager, Carolynne. She explained the menu for the evening would feature some classic Amuse dessertsfrom the archives, in addition to some experiments developed over the last couple of weeks.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

We began with Caramel, white chocolate and wasabi. The pale golden spheres which were presented to us immediately made me think of birds’ eggs.

Biting into the creamy white chocolate shell revealed a cold and creamy caramel parfait. We were all pleasantly surprised by the sharp wasabi kick to the palate which followed.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Our next course, Chimay 2011, gets its name from the Belgian beer used in the sorbet. Brewed by Cistercian monks, this flowery beer was originally brewed as a ‘festive’ specialty.

I’m glad it’s not a once-a-year thing any more, as even I, the most anti-beer person I know, found the rich caramelised notes of the beer sorbet really pleasant.

Set off with a barley foam, salted cashews and a thick, wheaty pretzel, this reminded me of all the salty accompaniments we all crave with a cold beer.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

I think it was Bon Viveur who said, ‘who doesn’t love a good G and T?’ and I have to agree.

Though it resembled no G and T I’ve ever seen, I’d be happy to indulge in this pillow of deliciousness any time!

Rounds of fluffy, caramelised marshmallow encased a layer of gin and tonic jelly over a ‘drunken sponge’ cake. I loved the burst of lime oil from the finely grated zest.

Something about the smell of limes for me, just screams summer, and immediately conjures images of gin and fizzing tonic water, with ice cubes clinking in a glass.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Lychee, banana and finger limes caused a bit of a stir amongst us, as we marvelled at the presentation of lychees three ways – as mousse, gel and freeze-dried. The freeze-dried lychees had me guessing at first, looking very much like puffed pork rinds.

A sweet banana puree and coconut creme patissiere were also joined by fresh finger lime from Marvick Natives Farm, just north of Perth. The finger lime ‘caviar’ was a favourite, adding a burst of acid tang to every mouthful.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Looking back at the description of this stunning dish reminds me that not all desserts are created equal.

Mike Thompson [Galapagos, Mana Lucie, Snow White, Thai Pink Lady, Green Grape, Orange Cherry, Princep Borghese, Marmande, Pale Purple and Black Plum], featured a diverse range of unusual and heirloom tomato varieties, most of which I’d never heard of, sourced from local WA grower, Mike Thompson. I love that the dish was named after him!

The medley of tomatoes was turned into a sweetly umami sorbet, and complemented beautifully by the sweet-sour verjuice and balsamic ‘pebbles’. The addition of hyssop added a minty, astringent flavour to this dish. It was quite strong, and even now, I’m not sure if I can call myself a fan.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Bee pollen and crunchie was a delightfully retro treat from Amuse’s 2008 menu. The bee pollen milkshake was strangely addictive, reminding me a little of the malty-sweet milkshakes I adored when I was young.

We all enjoyed Amuse’s take on the Crunchie, which featured thick chocolate around homemade honeycomb. More please!

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Capturing the beauty of Hay, blueberries and cocoa just wouldn’t have been possible without the helping hands of my food blogger friends :)

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

As the wafts of hay smoke cleared, we found fresh blueberries piled over a sweet hay custard, blueberry syrup and a tumble of slightly sweet coffee and cocoa crumbs.

Digging into this was an absolute pleasure, revealing more (and more!) with every bite. I loved the creaminess of the custard, and how well it was offset with the sour-sweet flavour of the blueberries, and texturally by the cocoa-coffee crumbs.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Sidenote: at this point, Gastromony and I simultaneously ‘ooh-ed’ at the beautiful ceramics which our dishes were presented on. Though it never contributes to the flavour of a dish, I do love a beautiful dish, and I was thoroughly impressed with the selections used by Amuse!

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Beetroot, pistachio and raspberries featured a thirty second beetroot sponge, pistachio sorbet, crushed milk biscuit and fresh raspberries. I loved the play on textures – from soft and spongy to crisp and crunchy.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

A definite favourite of the night was Return of the 2007 Snickers, one of Amuse’s early desserts from their first year of business.

Two cubes of creamy mousse were the standouts for me – flavoured with peanut butter and chocolate, and topped off with a slightly salty soft peanut caramel. A quenelle of creamy nougat ice cream completed this salute to the Snickers bar.

I don’t think I have adequate words to describe how much I loved this. Let’s just say – a lot.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

Chef Hadleigh joined us for our next course, Apricot and Anglaise, to top each individual apricot souffle with a silky sweet vanilla anglaise.

Though I loved the delicate flavour of this souffle and the creamy vanilla custard, I have to confess I was struggling to finish at this point. The sugar rush hit me hard. Oh boy.

Restaurant Amuse Dessert Degustation

We ended our evening with a sweet (but slightly less sweet) finish, enjoying a perfectly executed coffee macaron and rich Baileys Irish cream truffle.

The creamy coffee flavoured macaron and rich Baileys truffle worked perfectly for me as a replacement for the usual post-meal coffee. I’d be happy to go without on a regular basis for treats like these!

Though you’d have to work seriously hard to convince me to give up the savoury component of any degustation, this valiant effort from the team at Restaurant Amuse certainly grabbed my attention and held it.

And though I originally thought I would need a salt-fix in the form of late night junk food after our meal, I can report that no post-dego chips, burgers or cheese were consumed ;)

And shout outs to my fellow food-fans, and eaters in crime:
Bon Viveur, Gastromony, Blue Apocalypse, The Strawberry Thief, Eat Meets West and Carolanne’s Kitchen. We should do this again some time :)

Restaurant Amuse on Urbanspoon

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year


Gong hei fat choy!

As a kid, the wafting smell of roasted peanuts and the whirring of the food processor meant one thing. Peanut biscuits. 

My grandma would pull up a chair, hand me a chopstick, and I’d watch with awe as she mixed together sandy-looking ground peanuts, plain flour, sugar, oil and salt into a pliable dough. It was always even better than play dough.

Together, we’d roll small balls of the soft dough between our palms, placing them on baking trays lined with greasproof paper.

Then, wielding my chopstick, I would gleefully prod belly buttons into each plump biscuit, leaving a perfect circle in the centre of each sweet morsel.

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New YearMost families get together for a ‘reunion dinner’ on the eve of the lunar new year. 

Being big fans of homophones, many of the foods eaten and shared friends and family are symbolic – presented and eaten to ensure prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

From left: The perfect sandy texture.
You’ll know the mix is perfect when it looks like this.

Peanut biscuits
Recipe via Billy, A Table For Two!

Makes about 30 – 40 biscuits


  • 300g peanuts, fried/roasted and ground until fine
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • about 200ml of canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg beaten, for glazing


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lay out 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Roast the peanuts by frying them in a frying pan (dry, no oil). Grind the roasted peanuts till fine in a food processor. They’ll need to be quite sandy in texture – it’ll look  clumpy in the bowl of the mixer, but don’t worry. 
  3. Place ground peanuts in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and sugar. Mix together until well combined and lump free.
  4. Drizzle half of the oil into the bowl and combine the mixture with a clean hand, kneading gently.
  5. Keep adding a little more oil at a time. You’ll need to keep kneading to ensure the sugar melts and that the mix is soft and pliable, but firm enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands. 
  6. The mix is ready when you can roll the dough into smooth balls that don’t crack. If your mix is still too dry, add a little more oil and mix again.
  7. Take a heaped teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll into small balls. Place on baking sheets. of the mixture into your palm, and roll them into small balls. Place them on the baking sheets.
  8. Take a chopstick, poke a ‘belly button’ into each biscuit, and glaze with beaten egg.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

Use a chopstick to create a ‘belly button’ indent in each biscuit.

These golden biscuits are probably supposed to resemble gold ingots, or oranges. Or so I assume, as I’ve read that the word for oranges also sounds like the word fortune in Chinese. And I think adding the chopstick action kind of makes these look like mini-navel oranges…sort of.

My grandma always used to make dozens and dozens of these every year for Chinese New Year, ready for visiting friends and family, neighbours and greedy grandchildren (that’s me).

They’re delicious with a cup of tea, and good at any time of year.


Chocolate peanut butter macarons

This isn’t the first time I’ve made macarons. After two previous attempts, I think I’ve finally worked out the necessary technique. The recipe I’ve been using comes from Jose Marechal’s excellent book, Secrets of Macarons, which provides an in-depth step-by-step guide to making these sweet treats for the home cook. I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re keen to get started on making your own macarons.

Macaron shells waiting to be baked (after 30 minute resting/drying time)

Chocolate peanut butter macarons

Using chocolate macaron recipe by Jose Marechal


  • 180g almond meal
  • 200g pure icing sugar (not icing mixture)
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 75ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g of egg whites, divided into two equal portions (80g each) – you’ll need between 4-6 eggs, depending on the size you’re using
  • food colouring (optional), in red and green, or brown
  • Peanut butter of your choice (I used Kraft chunky peanut butter)
Equipment and other useful bits 
  • Electronic scales (a worthwhile investment if you decide you like making macarons!)
  • Candy thermometer
  • Food processor
  • Electric mixer (I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with the standard bowl)
  • a large metal, glass or ceramic mixing bowl (you’ll need two if you are using a hand mixer … no plastic as you’ll be using this with sugar syrup)
  • a small saucepan
  • a pastry brush
  • a glass of water
  • silicon-coated baking paper (such as Glad Bake, or identical supermarket-brand versions)
  • a large sieve (or fine mesh colander, if you’re totally lazy like me)
  • two spatulas (you’ll probably only need one…)
  • a pastry bag with 8mm – 1cm pastry tip (I use disposable bags from Wilton, with a plastic tip)
  • a permanent marker
  • 3 – 4 baking sheets
  1. Using a shot glass, bottle top or any other circular template, trace out circles on to some paper (which fits your tray) using your permanent marker. It’s best to create staggered rows to avoid any conjoined twin macarons. I just trace out one piece of paper, then use this as a template beneath a fresh sheet, rather than tracing several pieces. (You can also save the circle template for later)
  2. Process the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa until combined and fine – it should resemble a finely grained powder once it’s ready. You may need to do this in batches to ensure consistent texture. I find tapping the bowl regularly and scraping down the sides helpful. Sift into the large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Measure the caster sugar and water, adding to the saucepan. I like to do this right on the scale, pressing tare as I go. Easier that way. Place pan on the stove, and bring to the boil using the candy thermometer. You’ll need to make sure it doesn’t touch the base of the pan – this can completely stuff up your temperature reading. Don’t let it boil above 115c/240F. Turn it down to simmer if you need to. Try not to agitate or mix the syrup, to avoid crystallisation. You can also brush down the sides of the pan with your pastry brush and water occasionally to avoid this happening.
  4. Beat half your egg whites (80g) until they reach a soft peak stage. Increase the speed once your syrup reaches 105c/220F. Your egg whites should be coming along to firm peaks by now.
  5. When your syrup reaches 115c/240F, remove from the heat. Pour into egg whites in a thin stream, while mix continues to beat. Keep beating for a further 10 minutes or so, until the mixture cools.
  6. Grab your bowl of processed almond meal etc, and add the remaining egg white (80g), mixing well with a spatula. Don’t worry about being to rough with the mix at this stage. You won’t hurt it. Add a little food colouring at this stage if you’re using it.
  7. Your meringue mix should be cool by now. Using the spatula, scoop out about a third of the meringue, adding it to the almond meal and egg white mix. Combine the two mixes well, you’ll need a bit of elbow grease to get them properly combined.
  8. Now incorporate another third of the meringue mix into the almond mix. More gently this time, using a folding action. The mixture will loosen after this next bit. Add the rest of the meringue and continue to mix, until the batter is uniform in colour and texture. It should be quite sticky, thick and definitely not runny.
  9. Prepare your piping bag, and fill with the mix. Be sure to get rid of as much extra air as you can while you fill – big air bubbles from your piping bag can lead to craters in your macarons.
  10. Take a piece of clean baking paper and lay it over your template, and on a baking tray. Pipe even rounds within each circle.
  11. Tap the finished tray on a bench (you can be pretty vigorous here), and let it sit in room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This step is very important to ensure your macarons stay pretty. They’ll crack if not rested long enough and they won’t form the distinctive ‘feet’ – the frilly bubbled edge around good macarons. You’ll know you’ve got it right when you can gently touch the surface of your macarons without leaving a mark.
  12. While you pipe your trays, preheat your over to 150c (300F).
  13. Bake macarons for 12 – 15 minutes (depending on size). Mine took 14 minutes.
  14. Dampen a bench top or table surface. Once the macarons are done, transfer macarons on the baking paper directly on to the dampened surface – this will make them easier to remove.
  15. Take cooled shells and match them in pairs according to size/shape. Spread/pipe with peanut butter of your choice, and sandwich!
My macarons getting the damp bench top treatment
Perfect feet!
And that’s it. You’re finally done.
Now make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) and enjoy!




Red velvet cupcakes

These moist and chocolatey cupcakes are always a crowd pleaser. Yesterday, I made a batch of 12 full-sized cupcakes (in a muffin tray), and 48 mini-muffin sized cupcakes from the recipe below. J and I both brought the mini versions to our respective workplaces. They were a hit :) The fluffy, rich cream cheese icing is a must have for the true Red Velvet experience.

this recipe contains artificial colouring.

I’ve tried replicating Red Velvet recipes with beetroot juice, but have found after numerous attempts, that there’s really only one way to achieve the desired red-red.

If you’re not a fan of food colouring, just omit it, for some truly excellent chocolate cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Based on One bowl chocolate cake III, recipe from allrecipes.com

Makes approximately 24 muffin-sized cupcakes or two 9-inch round cakes

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (use something mild like sunflower, definitely not olive!)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon red food colouring (I used liquid colouring this time, but paste or gel would be preferable)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour two nine inch round pans, or line two 12-cup muffin trays with baking liners (if you’re using mini-sized muffin trays, you’ll need at least 48 to start with)
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, food colouring and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. If you’re making two round cakes, bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven. If you’re making cupcakes, try 15 minutes to start (you may need up to 25 minutes), until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream cheese icing
  • 1 block Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened (I usually forget to leave it on the bench for an hour, so instead I unwrap from the foil and microwave on high for 30 seconds)
  • 1/4 cup  butter, softened (see previous comment!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice (adjust to your liking)
  • Approx 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  1. Mix together butter and cheese using an electric mixer, making sure to beat out any lumps.
  2. Add vanilla and lemon juice (start with a tablespoon)
  3. Sprinkle in a cup of sugar, mixing well. Taste. Add more lemon juice or sugar and adjust to your taste.
  4. Spread or pipe on to cooled cupcakes

High tea at Rochelle Adonis, Northbridge

I saw this sweet little print on the wall at Rochelle Adonis on Sunday and thought: “Damn straight!”

J and I had been planning to visit Rochelle Adonis with his cousins H and E for some time. As H is now about to move to Melbourne to complete her honours year in neuroscience, last Sunday was the perfect time to talk, catch up, and be fed at the same time.

Tomato and basil quesadillas, sweet corn and coconut soup, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches

We started with a selection of savoury bites – tomato, basil and mozzarella quesadillas, sweet corn and coconut soup, and cucumber sandwiches with the traditional cream cheese. Being a big fan of corn, quesadillas and cucumber sandwiches, I was all over this selection.

I love a good cucumber sandwich, and these didn’t disappoint. Although we found the skewered presentation a little awkward to get out mouths around. I decided to throw propriety and caution to the wind, pulling out the skewer and just going for it.

 The quesadillas were lovely – crispy on the outside, as all good quesadillas should be, with sweet tomatoes and fragrant shreds of basil throughout. The mozzarella served as the ultimate creamy glue to hold it all together.

My plate

I thought the stand out of this savoury selection was the sweet corn and coconut soup. It was amazingly smooth and rich, with a velvety quality about it that made it thoroughly drinkable and delicious! The flavour of the corn was intense, and made even richer when coupled with the coconut – and we all agreed that the buttery flavour of the soup reminded us of popcorn, and also of Jelly Belly buttered popcorn flavoured jelly beans (do you remember those?)

Rice pudding brulees with cumquat compote, sweet nougat filled ‘wantons’ with strawberry ‘jus’

For our second course, we enjoyed two fun interpretations of classic dishes – rice pudding brulee with cumquat compote, and sweet wantons, which were stuffed with Rochelle’s famous nougat.

H and E were particularly pleased to hear the word ‘brulee’, as neither of them had tried a brulee before. I really enjoyed the addition of the bittersweet marmaladey compote with the creamy rice pudding. Sometimes I find rice pudding to be too rich (even though I love it), and the addition of the citrus really helped cut through that.

Nougat filled ‘wanton’ with strawberry jus

The wantons were an interesting play on one of my personal favourites. These were probably as far removed as possible from the crispy, porky morsels I know and love. I loved the strawberry jus which the wantons sat on, which was fragrant with the summery scent of strawberries.

Winter fruit salad with sabayon, mini pecan pies with vanilla ice cream

Our next selection was a winner for sweet tooths. Ordinarily I consider myself a fan of all things sweet, but I’ve got to confess that after our previous ‘courses’, a hot chocolate and a cup of tea, I was dangerously close to sweet-food coma stage once I finished this round.

The winter fruit salad featured apple, pear, dates and sour morello cherries with a sweet sabayon folded through. I really enjoyed the subtle spiced flavours of the salad, which I think probably included cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise.

Pecan pie minus ice cream

We were warned as this selection arrived to ‘start with the pecan pies’ to avoid any ice cream melting mishaps. To prevent this, I ate my ice cream first :) and followed with the buttery pecan pie. I loved the crumbly buttery pastry, and the caramelly roasted pecan filling.

Egg nog milkshakes

To finish off this course, we were also presented with a tray of mini-milk bottles, filled with boozy and rich egg nog. It was liberally spiked with brandy, and was a fun nod to ‘Christmas in July’ (though I don’t know if that was intentional)! The retro waxed-paper straws reminded me very much of candy canes, and no doubt cemented this Christmas reference in my mind.

Part of the high tea experience at Rochelle Adonis includes being seated at a shared table with other diners. We had a great time chattering amongst ourselves, and didn’t find this a problem. I did notice that some of the other diners during our session looked a little uncomfortable, so it’s worth noting this before you go. Of course, on the flip side – if you have a group of ten or more, then you could enjoy the luxury of the place to yourselves, all around one big table – which looked like a lot of fun for the group of ten ladies enjoying a champagne high tea next to us.

Even if high tea isn’t your thing, there are many delicious takeaway sweet and savoury treats on offer at Rochelle Adonis which makes it worth stopping by. You mgiht consider trying some of Rochelle’s famous nougat – the dark chocolate, cherry and almond version we bought on our way out last Sunday only made it to Wednesday night!

And I noticed a chalkboard menu of lunch specials which sounded delicious – including a beef and red wine pie.

For a high tea sample menu and further information visit Rochelle Adonis

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