food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘dessert

rhubarb custard cake

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Ruth made this attractive cake for a gathering recently. Lovely and moist and not too sweet with a good tang from the rhubarb. If rhubarb is not in season the cake will work just as well with other fruit.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking paper. Cook 200g rhubarb with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar until soft and a little jammy. Set aside to cool. In a small saucepan combine 1 tablespoon of custard powder, 2 teaspoons of caster sugar, of a cup of milk and ½ a teaspoon of pure vanilla essence. Stir and cook until the custard is thick. Set aside to cool. Now beat 75g of butter, of a cup of caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time. Sift together of a cup of self-raising flour and ½ a cup of wholemeal self-raising flour. Now stir the sifted flours and of a cup of milk into the cake mixture until well combined. To assemble the cake spread  of the mixture in the prepared cake tin. Place the rhubarb over the cake mix then add the custard. Top with the remaining cake mix and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out. When cooled dust with icing sugar and serve with natural yoghurt.


Written by michelle picker

July 24, 2019 at 12:04 am

Posted in cakes & desserts

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meringue cake with strawberries

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Cindy made this Mostachon (big moustache), a speciality of Monterey in Mexico. The cake has a deliciously chewy walnut meringue base and a rich cream cheese topping which droops around the edges – hence the name? It’s always served with fruit, in this case it was strawberries.

Preheat oven to 170°C (340ºF). Grease and line the base of a 22cm (9″) springform cake pan. Using an electric mixer, whisk 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have soft peaks. Continue whisking while adding 1⅓ cups of caster sugar, a little at a time until you have stiff peaks. Add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and combine. Fold in 150g (5.3 oz) of plain sweet crushed biscuits and ⅓ of a cup of crushed walnuts, then spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and dry to touch. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding the topping. To make the topping beat 250g (8.8 oz) of cream cheese for 5 minutes until smooth then beat in 250g (8.8 oz) of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Spread this over the cake and top with sliced strawberries.

* from this recipe by Phoebe Wood


Written by michelle picker

May 1, 2019 at 12:20 am

flourless brownie

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This is rich, delicious and my favourite brownie. Easy to make too.

Melt together 200g (7 oz) of 70% dark chocolate, 650g (23 oz) of butter and 50g of cocoa powder until smooth and glossy. In another bowl whip 2 large or 3 small eggs with 150g (5½ oz) of caster sugar. Add this to the chocolate mix and transfer to a baking paper-lined tray. Press walnuts into the mix (optional) and bake in a moderate oven until firm.

Written by michelle picker

April 10, 2019 at 12:06 am

almond and apricot pastry

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Eve made this ensaïmada, a pastry which hails from Mallorca. Traditionally made with a lot of pork lard (saiïm in Catalan) this version, from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, uses only 100g (3½ oz) of butter. I’ve never tasted the original version but this one was moist and delicious and a fitting finale for a Spanish meal.

Before you start, soak 50g (1¾ oz) of chopped muscatel or other raisins in 3 tablespoons of orange liquor for half an hour. Preheat your oven to 200ºC (390ºF). In a mixer beat 100g (3½ oz) of diced room-temperature unsalted butter with 150g (5⅓ oz) of caster sugar until light, airy and pale in colour. Lightly whisk 2 eggs and add them a little at a time. If the mixture starts to look split, add a bit of flour to bring it back together. Add 40g (1.4 oz) of almond meal, 70g (2½ oz) of plain flour and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. Beat just until everything comes together. Now remove the stones from 4 apricots and dice them. Fold them into the mixture by hand along with the raisins and alcohol, the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon and 40g (1.4 oz) of flaked almonds. Set aside. Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll some store-bought puff pastry into a rectangle 50cm long, 30cm wide and 2-3 millimetres (0.1″) thick. Cut it into two rectangles, both measuring 15cm x 50cm. Spread the almond paste thinly over both of the pastry rectangles, leaving a border along one long edge on each. Gently roll the longest edge over itself and roll the whole sheet into a long sausage, the seam facing down. Using a baking tray lined with baking paper, place one end in the centre of the tray and wrap around into a coil shape, leaving a slight gap in the centre. Fold the end underneath the coil to seal it shut, brushing with a little egg to help it stick. Repeat the same process with the 2nd pastry rectangle. At this stage you can make 2 separate pastries but Eve opted to add the second to the first to make one larger pastry. Use another 3 apricots, stones removed and cut as desired, to decorate. The traditional decoration is a flower at the centre but ours had apricot wedges dotted around the entire coil and was decorated with extra flaked almonds. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for 8 minutes before reducing the oven heat to 170ºC  (340ºF). Continue to bake for another 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown. Cool on a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and brush the apricots with some runny honey before serving warm or at room temperature.

Written by michelle picker

February 6, 2019 at 12:06 am

bingsoo / bingsu

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This Korean dessert of shaved ice was traditionally served with only a few ingredients such as red beans, condensed milk, fruit syrup and fresh fruit. Today Bingsoo is a popular dessert served in specialised restaurants with a myriad variety of ingredients. We enjoyed these two sophisticated versions in The Lounge at the Seoul Park Hyatt.

Honey Bingsoo with shaved milk ice, Warak Mountain honeycomb, chantilly cream, roasted apple puree and pecans.

Mango Bingsoo  with shaved mango milk ice, fresh mango, coconut jelly, cardamom crumble, yogurt ice cream and mango coulis.

Altogether too delicious!


Written by michelle picker

June 20, 2017 at 5:51 am

Posted in cakes & desserts, travel

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hazelnut caramel cake

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This nutty, not too sweet and very delicious cake is from a Dan Lepard recipe. The flavour of the hazelnuts is enhanced by the subtle addition of cocoa.


Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and butter two 18cm (7″) baking tins, lining the bases with baking paper. Beat 175g (6⅛ oz) of softened butter with 100g (3½ oz) of light brown sugar and 200g of tinned caramelised sweetened condensed milk (sold either as caramel topping or dulce de leche). When this mixture is smooth beat in 2 large eggs, one at a time, followed by 100g (3½ oz) of ground hazelnuts. Sift 175g (6⅛ oz) of flour with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and beat this through. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, beat 50g (1¾ oz) of butter with 150g (5¼ oz) of tinned caramel until smooth. Blend in 150g (5¼ oz) of sifted icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until you have a smooth icing. When the cakes are cool spread half of the icing between the layers and the rest on top. Scatter roasted hazelnuts over the top.


Written by michelle picker

October 13, 2016 at 5:42 am

Posted in cakes & desserts

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esterházy schnitte

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For my Austrian father on the occasion of his 96th birthday, I decided to make him this slice. Named after Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galántha (1786–1866), a diplomat of the Austrian Empire, it was invented in Budapest in the late 19th century and became one of the most famous cakes in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.


There are a few steps involved in making this slice. First the meringue. Line a jelly-­roll pan with baking paper and preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Combine 60g (2 0z) of ground almond meal, 70g (2½ oz) of hazelnut meal and ¼ of a cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar and set aside. Beat 5 large egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add ⅔ of a cup of white sugar and continue to beat until glossy. Fold in the nut mixture then spread the batter onto the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool. For the filling combine ¼ of a cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add another ¾ of a cup of milk and 2 large egg yolks. Heat gently while constantly whisking until the mixture is quite thick. Remove from the heat and transfer to another bowl and allow to cool until almost cold. While whisking (an electric mixer is good here), add small pieces of room temperature butter incorporating them one at a time until you have added ¾ of a cup of butter. Add 6 teaspoons of kirsch and mix well. For the glaze combine 1 cup of sifted confectioners sugar with 2 teaspoons of glucose or corn syrup and 5 teaspoons of hot water. Heat just until everything is well combined. To assemble cut the cake into 5 equal pieces. Lay the best piece down, spread with some apricot jam and then the glaze. To the remaining glaze add some dark chocolate and use this to make a pattern on the white glaze. Traditionally, this would be lines with a skewer pulled through them but I chose to go wild. Set this layer aside. Now lay down another piece and spread with approximately 3 tablespoons of buttercream. Lay a second piece on top and repeat until you have used the last piece. Finally lay the iced piece on top and spread the remaining buttercream around the outside edges. Toast some flaked almonds and press them into the sides. Chill for at least one hour before serving.


*adapted from this recipe on

Written by michelle picker

September 25, 2016 at 5:50 am