Rather Boozy Tiramisu


So to follow-up from a dinner of The Carbonara, I made these equally delicious tiramisu pots which I whipped up the night before. Purely so I could use these cute vintage ice cream glasses that I bought recently in a car-boot fair. This is essentiality based on the Polpo recipe, but with rather more booze (in variety and volume) as well as less sugar…because, you know, priorities.

I made enough to perfectly serve 5 ice cream glasses worth and didn’t end up using all the sponge fingers.

Rather Boozy Tiramisu:
6 double espresso shots or 360 ml strong coffee, warm
4 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp Kahlúa
2 tbsp Disaronno
240 g caster sugar
6 medium eggs, separated
120 ml Marsala
500 g marscapone
1 packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers
cocoa powder

Combine the warm coffee with the rum, Kahlúa, Disaronno and 50g of the caster sugar. Stir until combined and set aside.

Separate the eggs into two medium/large bowls. Whisk your egg whites until they are stiff. To the egg yolks add the rest of the sugar and the Marsala. Whisk the yolks until they are pale and fluffy, then add the marscarpone and gently stir in. Now you want to fold the whisked egg whites into to the yolk mixture.

For each pot or glass of tiramisu you want about 2-4 sponge fingers. Depending on your layers and glassware. First you want to dip a sponge finger into the coffee mixture, enough to soak the whole biscuit without it falling apart. Layer this down, or break it in half and only put half in if you’re serving it in tiny glasses. Then dollop a heaped tbsp of the cream mixture and repeat until you’re happy with your layers. I had 2 layers of sponge and 2 layers of cream.

*soak* *break* *dollop* *repeat*

Chill in the fridge overnight for extra yumminess. Or eat one after only 4 hours like we did! Just remember to dust them liberally with cocoa powder when you’re ready to eat.

Baked Cheesecake

baked cheesecakeIt’s well into February now, are we over the New Year detox yet? This was meant to be a Polish Cheesecake that I made over Christmas for my family in Hong Kong. I have no idea what makes this a Polish cheesecake but there were a couple of baked cheesecakes in my mum’s old recipe book and this is my riff on one of them. Maybe I’ll try the German one next time I’m back and I can tell you which one is better. The reason why this is a riff on the recipe is because of instead of buying normal cottage cheese, I bought one with sliced gherkins mixed in. Don’t worry! This isn’t some crazy cream cheese and pickle cake (although I imagine that to be weirdly nice). I had some cream cheese and milk in the fridge so I used that instead.

Baked Cheese Cake (meant to be Polish):
6-7 tbs crushed digestive or tea biscuits
750 g cream cheese
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
180 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp corn flour
150 ml milk
3 eggs separated
170 ml double cream

Oven at 160°C. Grease 20 cm loose bottomed baking tin. Add those crushed biscuits to the bottom, add more if you want a thicker base.

In a large bowl, beat cheese with lemon juice and rind until smooth. To this add the sugar, vanilla, cornflour, milk and egg yolks. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with an electric beater until stiff. Then in another bowl beat cream until thick. With a spatula you now want to alternatively fold the egg whites and cream into the cheese mixture. When combined pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven. Then turn the heat off and leave the cake in the oven for a further 30 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (ram a heat-proof glove in the crack). Take the cake out and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Salted Caramel Sauce

salted caramel sauce

Good grief. Do you know what I realised? Minikin Kitchen is 1 year old today! It’s been an interesting experiment into cooking and blogging. I just discovered a recipe of mine doing the rounds on Pinterest which is rather exciting. As I started this thing on Halloween and I’m prepping some treats for a Halloween party tomorrow, I thought I’d post something that I just knocked up. Be warned this stuff is way too ‘I’ll just dip my pinky into it’ addictive and anyone *anyone* who tells you they don’t like salted caramel is a bloody liar.

Salted Caramel:
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
110g butter
1/2 cup double cream
1 tbsp sea salt flakes

On medium to high heat, get a heavy bottomed stove on and melt your sugar. With a metal spoon, only stir the sugar occasionally to help it all dissolve evenly. If you want to use a sugar thermometer, you want this to reach 175°C but I have to admit, I kinda eyeballed this. You want it a rich golden brown colour and basically don’t want it to burn. Once it reaches the desired temp, add the butter and double cream and stir well. Now add the salt and set this aside to cool.

The temperature of the sugar really dictates the viscosity of this sauce, you’ll notice I’ve made a bit on the fudgy side, but if you want a runnier constancy add more double cream. I basically add this to most things. I drizzle it over yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, filled macarons with it…I even put it in the freezer to firm up and rolled little salt caramel balls and stuffed them in homemade chocolate truffles (stroke of genius if I do say so myself).

Addictive and indulgent. A fitting birthday post.

Rhubarb Crumble with Ginger (and possibly Greengages) as well as Real Custard

Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

Rhubarb! Yay! Let’s make a crumble. I also very recently learned that rhubarb is used in traditional Chinese medicine, so it feels like the ginger pairing is rather fortuitous now. But lets face it, I had ginger wine in the house and that stuff is like alcoholic nectar of which I only put the fresh ginger in to enhance the booze! So…I’m not sure how overall healthy or medicinal the following dish is, but it is very satisfying to eat, and I even had some for breakfast the following day with cold custard. Not. Even. Guilty.

It’s at this point that I should also mention that I *think* I added some greengage plums to this dish, which was a totally amazing addition as the fruit really held shape and added a lovely bite to the overall dish. But I cannot of yet totally confirm this so I’ll have to come back to this post and edit it later if I ever find out whatever the hell plum-like things I actually did add to this.

Rhubarb filling for crumble:
400 g rhubarb - prepped weight
100 g greengage plums (possibly) - stoned and quartered
3 tbsp ginger wine - generous servings
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger with it's juices
100 g soft light brown sugar

Chop your rhubarb into long 10 cm by 1 cm sticks. Get all the above into a pot and simmer it all at low heat for around 15 minutes. You don’t want your rhubarb too soft. Once that’s done, you’ll probably have a bit too much thin liquid for a nice compote sauce, so sieve the fruit out and rest it in your oven proof dish while you crank the heat up in the pot and boil those fruit and sugar juices into a lovely thicker consistency. Pour this over your fruit and get your oven to 200°C. Move onto the crumble topping.

Crumble topping:
140 g self raising flour
85 g butter - chilled, cut in cubes
50 g soft light brown sugar
50 g walnuts - roughly chopped

With all of these ingredients in a glass bowl, you’ll want to dive in with your fingers and bring it together like course breadcrumbs. Don’t over mix and be too neat and tidy, the rougher the better. In fact. Go with *just* combined with larger odder shapes scattered through. The chopped walnut bits will help with this. Sprinkle this over your fruit mixture and whack it in the oven until the toppings golden brown and the fruit mix is bubbling to the surface a bit. 15-20 minutes maybe?

While that’s going on, lets make some actual proper custard too. This is Mary Berry’s recipe, and honestly, why would I want to change it? It’s pretty perfect. The only thing I did at the end was crank up the heat slightly and whisked it in a glass bowl before serving because I thought it was starting to split. Balloon whisks – kitchen lifesavers.

Mary Berry's "Real Proper Custard":
568 ml whole milk
55 ml single cream
1 vanilla pod - split lengthways
4 egg yolks
40 caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour - level measurements

Get a small pot on the stove and heat you milk, cream and vanilla pod at low heat. You don’t want it to boil.

In a separate bowl, mix up your egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until well blended.

Remove the vanilla pod (then wash and leave it to dry, put it in some sugar: vanilla sugar! Yay for Mary), and slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture – whisking all the time. Once it’s all incorporated, pour your custard back into your pot and slowly stir with a wooden spoon until you reach your desired consistency. Pour it all in a jug ready to serve and sit it in a pot of hot water to keep warm. Maybe put some cling film on top to stop a skin forming. Serve it up with your desert (or breakfast for that matter).

Creme Caramel. Otherwise Known As: Caramel Flan V2

Creme CaramelSo a while ago as I was doing the New Year’s Detox I wrote about this mega easy caramel flan I made for my family over Christmas back in Hong Kong. It went down a treat, but for my Mother and myself it just wasn’t the soft delicious delight we were hoping for. Which made me try rather a lot of creme caramel recipes of late and I’ve been working on one that is not only soft and delicious, but doesn’t liquify upon turning out. It’s probably not *perfect* but it seems pretty fool-proof so far so I thought I’d share it. I made a massive one of these to finish off my Chinese New Year party (and probably my guests too), and I’ve also tried substituting the milk for not only rice milk, but soya as well, and I’m pleased to report that it works superbly.

Makes enough for 6-8 ramekins.

Caramel Flan V2:
115 g caster sugar
1 tbsp water
625 ml milk (or unsweetened dairy free substitute)
1 vanilla pod or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
100 g caster sugar
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Oven at 170°C. Get a heavy bottomed non stick pan on to high heat. Into this add the 115 g of caster sugar and the tablespoon of water. Caramelise your sugar and be careful not to burn it, I like to just let it sit for ages taking in the heat while I work on other things. I’ll only start to stir with a metal spoon right at the end browning process.

While the caramel’s on the stove, put your ramekins in a deep enough tray to use as your water bath. But without any water in it for now, put it in the oven so your ramekins take on a good amount of heat. This is so when we spoon the caramel into them it doesn’t seize up.

Take your tray of hot ramekins out of the over when your caramel’s about done, then quickly and carefully spoon about a tablespoon of caramel into all the dishes. Move them about a bit to evenly coat. Set them aside.

In another pot, bring the milk and vanilla to just below boiling point. If you’re using a whole vanilla pod, don’t forget to slice along it length wise. When at heat remove from stove and set aside.

Get a large glass bowl and mix together all your eggs and the remaining sugar. To this use a fine mesh sieve and quickly whisk and incorporate the hot milk. When it’s all mixed together you may get a lot of foam on your custard mix. I like to place a kitchen towel on top to remove this.

Ladle some custard mix into each of the ramekins. Remove any extra bubbles with the kitchen towel as above. Place all the ramekins in the water bath tray and fill it with some boiled hot water so that it’s at least over the half way point of the ramekins. Now into the oven for 20-35 minutes.

The creme caramels should have some wobble in them still, but set. Some may have a solid skin atop of them. If you’re really fussy (I am) and the top membrane is thick enough, carefully remove this then let them cool and get them in the fridge ready to be served. The longer you leave them in the fridge the better I think because the caramel dissolves more. When you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife all the way around and turn it out on a plate.

And that’s it! This also brings an end to all the dishes I made that snowy sunday evening to usher in the Year of the Snake. So I’ll be on to regular kitchen experiments from now on.CNY Flan

Caramel Flan V1


Gah…so January’s been eventful already! I’ve been so good with eating healthily as per the rituals of The January Detox (I’m currently eating a bowl of steamed purple sprouting broccoli…no jokes) that I started to reminisce about this mega easy flan I made for a huge Christmas feast last December.

Now there’s a reason that this recipe is called version 1, because this produces quite a firm flan with more of a bite than a creme caramel’s soft unctuousness, but it’s yummy, velvety and uses whole eggs. Which is handy if you don’t really have the time to separate your yolks and have left over egg bits. PLUS it’s probably the only non-cooking recipe I’ll post here because it uses tins of evaporated milk and condensed milk. But once I crack the perfect soft flan that doesn’t liquify on turning out, version 2 will be out with a gusto. I can promise you that.

Mega Easy Flan:
1 cup caster or granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Get your oven to 170°C.

Put the sugar, and tablespoon of water in a heavy bottomed pan on stove on medium heat. Without shaking the pan, wait for the sugar to caramelise. Careful not to let it burn, you can use a metal spoon to stir it all together towards the end, but in general with making caramel just leave and watch it. While it’s getting on its way to all lovely and golden, take the dish you’ll cooking your flan in (I used a 10 inch pyrex dish) and place it in the oven for a bit just to warm it up. This just stops the caramel from seizing up in a cold dish.

So once the caramel’s done (try not to place the spoon covered in liquid hotter than the sun in your mouth) carefully pour it in your dish and swirl it all around set it aside and let it cool.

In a large bowl, pour in all the condensed milk and carefully stir in the eggs. ‘Stir’ being the operative word, you don’t want to vigorously whip it all up and create air bubbles. Once throughly mixed add the evaporated milk, whole milk and vanilla essence and combine it all together.

Decant your creamy mixture through a sieve into your caramel dish. Cover with foil. Now place this into a water bath in the oven. So that’s a larger deeper oven tray filled with water until it reaches halfway up the flan dish. Bake for 60 mins. Or until the centre is no longer liquid when you wobble it a bit.

Leave it to cool thoroughly and when you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife round it, place a plate on top and flip that flan over. Feeds 6-8.

Panna Cotta with Blackberry Compote

panna cotta

Wow, a week has passed and I haven’t updated. My bad. It’s not that I wasn’t cooking, truth be told, I’m actually back in Hong Kong over the holidays and there’s a lot of cooking, eating and catch ups to be had. But this post isn’t about my blogging tardiness, it’s about this delectable panna cotta I made as the finishing touch to a meal I cooked for my friend. Deserts are always I bit of a hard one I find. I tend to always eat a bit of fruit normally, but after an indulgent meal sometimes you crave something a little more. This is a dainty light panna cotta with a sweet yet satisfyingly sharp compote to balance out those flavours. I’ve cheated a bit, in that the panna cotta isn’t set then turned out of a ramekin, but how pretty does this look? Plus, Polpo does it this way, so it can’t be all bad. This makes 3-4 little tumblers worth of pudding.

Panna Cotta with Blackberry Compote:
190 ml full fat milk
200 ml double cream
40 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
4 g leaf gelatin
1 tbsp of grappa or grape juice
About 125 g of blackberries with extra to serve

Put a heavy based pan onto the stove. Into this, add your milk, double cream,  35 g of caster sugar and the seeds scraped out of your vanilla pod. Just before it all comes to boiling point, remove it from the heat.

Get some icy water into a container and soften your gelatine leaves for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water (playing with gelatine at this stage is quite tactile and fun!) and add this to your creamy mixture along with your grappa.

Pour your creamy liquid into a glass bowl over some ice and let it slowly cool. Give it a stir every so often to disperse the vanilla pod seeds. Once the seeds start to suspend themselves in the creaminess, about an hour later, your mixture is ready. Decant into some tumblers and chill them in the fridge. They are even better if left overnight, but I was happy with 8 hours of chilling.

Now make your compote. Put your 125 g worth of blackberries into a large saucepan with around 25 ml of water and the remaining caster sugar. On a very low heat, poach those berries until they soften and start to lose their shape. At this point you want to access how you like your compote. I mashed half of the softened berries and added a tiny bit more sugar and water. I would recommend that you don’t make it too sweet though, because you want something to counter the sweet creaminess of the panna cotta. But you know. Do it to taste.

When you are ready to serve, add a generous helping of compote to your little panna cotta tumblers and add a couple of fresh blackberries for some variation. Yum yum yum. Oh! It’s new year’s eve today as well so I hope you all have a blast partying around the world tonight. Bring on 2013!

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