Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

My Absolute Favourite Fruit: Mangosteen

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To on May 22, 2014 at am

I love almost all fruit, and mangosteen is, by far, my favourite.  If you haven’t tried purple mangosteen yet, I highly recommend that you do as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  When I was in Malaysia, I ate an entire bag and every day that I’ve been back, I regret not eating more.  That was a year ago!!!  Mangosteen are grown mainly in Southeast Asia and the best ones that I’ve ever had were from Malaysia. Disappointingly, in North America, mangosteen can be quite expensive and often not very fresh.  So be sure to choose ones with a fresh and green coloured stem, because there are such things as bad and so-so mangosteen.

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The purple fruit shown in the middle are the mangosteen

The purple outer shell is inedible.  To open a mangosteen, crush the purple shell between the palms of your hands and then pull it apart to open it.  But be very careful not to stain your clothes, because the purple dye is almost impossible to wash out.  In fact, many hotels in Southeast Asia ban their guests from bringing mangosteen into their rooms.  The white flesh on the inside of the fruit is soft, moist, juicy and refreshing and light tasting.  Also, there are large seeds within each lobe of the white flesh.

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If you get the chance to try a mangosteen, let me know what you think!

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Malaysian Layered Kueh Recipe

In Asian Desserts, Desserts on May 15, 2014 at am

Kueh is one of my favourite Malaysian desserts.  It is steamed, mildly flavoured, soft, chewy, and slightly sticky.  Here is a recipe for a 7, 8, or 9 layer (your choice), 2 colour kueh.  The main flavours to this kueh are coconut and pandan.

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Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on April 15, 2014 at am

This is another great recipe from the cookbook, The Modern Baker.  At first, I was doubtful that this cake would be flavourful enough for my taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  This sophisticated, citrusy cake is a great finish to a heavy meal.  I made it for Thanksgiving dinner.  Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it.  Even John’s mom, who isn’t normally a fan of cake, liked it.  I love that this cake is moist, easy to make, and relatively healthy since it uses olive oil as opposed to butter or vegetable oil.  Also, I love the crunchy and slightly sticky crust.  This is served as a one-layer cake, but the recipe makes two layers, so you can make these in advance and freeze them for future dinner parties.

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Like Pomelo Fruit? Then You’ll Love Oroblanco (USA) or Sweetie Grapefruits (Israel)

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Asian Desserts, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To, Other Asian Foods on March 29, 2014 at am

Pomelo is a very large citrus fruit that tastes like a sweeter, milder grapefruit (photo not shown).  Not only does pomelo taste better than grapefruit, it’s also much much easier to peel and eat.  I didn’t think that it could get any better with citrus fruit, but I was proven very wrong when I discovered Israel’s sweetie grapefruit (also known as oroblanco in the USA).  When I first tasted it, I thought, this tastes even better than a pomelo, sweeter and juicier, almost like a mix of pomelo and grapefruit.  Sure enough, I later learned that the sweetie grapefruit is, in fact, a cross between the pomelo and the white grapefruit.  I really hope you’re able to find this in your local grocery store.  When picking a sweetie grapefruit, the skin should be green and should smell citrusy.  Also, the fruit should be heavy and somewhat soft when pressed.

You peel a sweetie grapefruit the same way you peel a pomelo:  Use a sharp knife to cut an X into the top of the fruit.  Make sure that you cut all the way through the thick rind.  Then peel the rind off in large slices.  Then use your hands to pull the fruit apart so that you have two halfs with exposed flesh.  Pull each lobe of flesh away from the white pith and enjoy.

Other must try fruits include:  mangosteen (see here).

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How to Make a Diaper Cake (and my Favourite Baby Shower Games)

In Cake Decorating, DIY and Crafts on March 22, 2014 at am

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This DIY diaper cake tutorial should have been written five years ago – when I actually made the diaper cake and when this trend was the most popular.  But regardless of whether or not this is a new idea, I still love it and I can’t think of a better gift or centerpiece for a baby shower.  I’ve now been involved in throwing a few baby showers, and planning the games is always my favourite part.  So I’ve shared a list of my favourite baby shower games as well.  I’m sure it will come to no surprise that 2 of the 3 are food related.  😉

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How to Make Danish Pastries (with Cheese, Blueberry or Apple Filling)

In Desserts, How-To, Other Desserts, Pies & Tarts on February 14, 2014 at am

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I’ve made delicious danishes from scratch twice now, and they were a huge hit.  The cheese danishes are especially good.  You could also use half cheese and half fruit for the filling.  Although you could use store bought puff pastry, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make your own puff pastry using the shortcut in this recipe.  If you take the time to make a large batch of puff pastry, you can freeze it for future uses.

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Black Forest Pancakes Recipe

In Breakfast, Desserts, Other Desserts on February 4, 2014 at am
Black forest pancakes

Black forest pancakes  (Note:  The black cherry sauce looks too thick, because it had cooled by the time I took this photo.  It had a nicer, runnier consistency when it was still warm.)

John loves pancakes, so for his 30th birthday, I made black forest pancakes for breakfast.  These were indulgent and chocolatey without being too sweet.  These black forest pancakes are made by layering German chocolate pancakes, whipped cream, reduced black cherry juice and fresh cherries.  They are a great way to mark any special occasion.

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Glazed Donut Shots (Alcoholic Drinks Recipes)

In Desserts, Drinks, Other Desserts on December 19, 2013 at am

When I first saw McGuinness Glazed Donut liquor, I knew that I had to get it, because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, John has a thing for donuts (see the Donut Tour of Toronto here, and the Donut Pillow/Costume DIY here).  I created a few donut-inspired signature drinks for John’s housewarming party.  I served them as shots, but some of them would make delicious cocktails as well.  They were very well received.

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Chocolate Glazed Donut Shot Recipe

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Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe (plus different uses for leftover frosting)

In Cookies, Cupcakes, Desserts, Other Desserts on November 26, 2013 at am

This peanut butter frosting recipe makes a lot of frosting.  Luckily, the leftovers can be frozen.  I first used it to make peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes.  In fact, I’ve made these cupcakes and mini cupcakes for several different events, now.  They were all very well received (recipe below).  Recently, I was in a very popular cupcake bakery downtown Toronto, ON, and I noticed that their chocolate peanut butter cupcakes were decorated the exact same way that mine were!  That was a nice reminder to share this recipe.  Don’t forget to warn people that these contain nuts, in case of food allergies.

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I’d also like to share three other uses for the leftovers of this delicious frosting.  For a Canada Day BBQ, I used the peanut butter frosting as the filling for oatmeal cookie sandwiches.  They were very popular.  Then, for John’s housewarming party, I served the peanut butter frosting on graham crackers topped with fresh banana slices and drizzles of homemade dark chocolate sauce.  I’ve also heard that frozen graham cracker and frosting sandwiches are delicious too.  I’ll have to try that next time.  I’d love to hear what you do with your leftover frosting!

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How to Make Puff Pastry From Scratch, The Quick and Easy Way

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, How-To, Main Course, Other Desserts, Pies & Tarts on November 10, 2013 at am

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In the past, I often used store bought, frozen puff pastry for special occasions and parties.  Although I had been planning to attempt making puff pastry from scratch for years, I put it off, because the process requires many steps and resting times.  So imagine how excited I was when I found a time-saving technique for puff pastry in The Modern Baker.  Not only is this puff pastry easy and relatively quick to make, it is freezer friendly, too.  So you can make several batches in half a day, freeze them, and have your own instant puff pastry for future uses.  This puff pastry bakes up beautifully flaky, buttery, and crisp.  I’ll probably never use store-bought puff pastry again.  When I used this dough to make cheese danishes, my dad said that they were better than the ones that he buys from a bakery. I’ve also used this successfully for savoury tarts (see recipes here and here) and beef wellington. Here are a few other recipes that use puff pastry: Hong Kong egg tarts (see recipe here), apple turnovers (see recipe here), chicken or turkey pot pie (see recipe here), and vol au vents.

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Brownie Cookies Recipe

In Cookies on October 19, 2013 at am

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I’ve made these brownie cookies a few times, now, and they are always a big hit.  They are chocolatey, rich, and dense.  I love that they resemble brownies that come in a cookie form.

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DIY Cake or Mini Cupcake Stands (Plus Tips for Spray Painting)

In Desserts, DIY and Crafts on September 27, 2013 at am

I just love do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, but I haven’t taken on very many (see my DIY stocking advent calendar here and DIY paw print keepsakes here), because they usually require a lot of basic tools and/or materials that I don’t have the spare cash or storage space for.  So when I learned how easy it is and how few supplies you need to make your own cake stands, I just knew that it was just a matter of time before I’d get started on making these.  You see, I love cake stands.  I covet and I covet and I covet, but I haven’t purchased one yet, because all of the cake stands that I’ve seen and liked cost at least $80 each, and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on things that I don’t actually need, that I don’t use often, and that take up significant cupboard space.  But after sitting on this idea for over two years, I decided that my sister’s surprise 28th birthday party was the perfect occasion to justify owning and making some cake stands.  I used them to display chocolate cupcakes with nutella frosting (recipe here).  For contrasting height, I also served a two-layer strawberry and vanilla cake (recipe here) on a basic cake board.

Photos below:  You can see the before and after photos below.  I was lucky enough to find this cute and unique white plate that was quite flat and in like new condition.  It cost only $1 and I didn’t have to spray paint it, which also means that it’s completely food safe.  I paired it with an interesting thick and heavy wine glass that I turned upside down.  The wine glass cost $1 and I decided to spray paint it yellow for a fun and bright contrast.  

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