Monday, January 2, 2017

How to build a quick dessert that’s no mere trifle

Yes, we’ve had a jolly good time. Let’s make our resolutions tomorrow and, meanwhile, reimagine the remains of desserts today. Surely there will be an invitation to watch the game, hear vacation stories or head out for a long walk; each can provide the occasion for a sweet hurrah, bound by a single rule: no shopping for ingredients.


Such a dessert could be called a countertop-sweeper, but it’s more formally known as a trifle: one of those Great British recipes with an evocative name, joining the ranks of the Eton mess, the fool and the stargazey pie.

Turns out, there’s something similar on this side of the pond. Across America’s South, there is tipsy cake. Like a trifle, it contains fruit or jam, booze, custard and some kind of cake. According to Stella Parks, author of the upcoming “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” (W.W. Norton, fall 2017): “Tipsy cakes are very casual. They are not even layered — just dump the cake in the bowl.” But unlike trifles, she says, original tipsy cakes of the mid-1800s were always finished with blanched, slivered almonds.

A tipsy trifle — a mash-up of the two — was my goal. But which kind of cake to start with? This year, I had pound cake, but I gave serious consideration to using a plateful of pistachio snowball cookies. Any sponge cake, pound cake or panettone will do, even better when the cake’s a little stale. It is cubed and then sprinkled — never soaked or doused — with a combination of brandy and sweet wine or sherry. If the wine is dry and not sweet, “just add a spoonful of sugar,” Parks says.

The custard can be rich or light. Parks’s tipsy-cake research found 19th-century cookbooks that called for a custard made from “one to four eggs per cup of liquid.” For children, cooks were encouraged to use “fewer eggs and yellow food coloring, and it will look as though it were made with the bounty of a dozen eggs.” This, I think, gives us permission to make a custard based on the eggs and dairy in the house. We can skip the food coloring. To gild the lily, top the tipsy trifle with a cloud of whipped cream. You can substitute yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche if all the cream was used in the custard.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Low-Sugar Holiday Dessert Recipes

This holiday season, there are many low-sugar dessert recipes that have emerged that avoid fake sugars that give some eaters headaches or abdominal distress.
Thankfully, in addition to advice from low-carb bloggers about the artificial sweeteners they prefer, there are an abundance of new 2016 holiday recipes that avoid extra sugar without using exotic ingredients such as stevia or Splenda.
For example, a 2006 study published in the Headache journal explained that some people get headaches or other side effects when eating sucralose sweeteners instead of sugar. While there is some debate about whether it is actually a migraine trigger, Consumer Affairs has a list of complaints from people that think fake sugar and headaches are linked.

Worse, according to Telegraph, new research shows that artificial sweeteners cause issues for people that have difficulty managing their blood sugar because the fake sugar “triggers a range of hormonal and metabolic responses ready to take on a blood-sugar increase.”
Instead, it is recommended to avoid excess sugars and fake sugars alike for any time of year, and daily eating habits should be based around the ANH Food4Health Plate created by Alliance for National Health International.

Another idea is to eat alternatives to making sugary holiday dessert recipes such as doing “sweet swaps.” Daily Mail explains that having 30 grams of sugars is not going too far, even if you have blood sugar issues such as diabetes, but these sugars might be hidden in starchy fruits such as bananas.
On the other hand, after eating a low-carb, low-sugar holiday meal, instead of trying to cook something new, limit the amount of Christmas dessert recipes and focus on only one. With that sugary Christmas dessert recipe, try to eat the smallest portion size possible. This way, a sugar swap is fulfilled by eating rich traditional holiday dessert recipes in small portions but not eating anything sugary during the meal.
Another alternative is following ketogenic diet trends for holiday dessert recipes that have the smallest amount of sugar possible. A 2016 suggestion for a sweet and savory holiday dessert recipe was ham slices rolled with a small amount of cherry sauce, according to Digital Journal.
Another trend for low-sugar 2016 holiday dessert recipes is using low-glycemic sugars. For example, substituting agave syrup in traditional Christmas recipes works in many cases, but fails in other types of baking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Healthy Mug Cake Desserts to Try

As a (predominantly) healthy eater, one of my biggest hurdles is the strike of a sugar craving. Although, I’ve done a good job of weaning myself off of sweets, there are those inevitable days where the thought of a brownie or chocolate chip cookie just can’t escape my mind.

Enter the healthy mug cake. Mug cakes and single serving desserts made in a mug are one of my absolute favorite things ever!
If you’ve never tried a mug cake before, you MUST give one of these recipes a try the next time that you want to “cheat clean.”

You only need a microwavable mug, a handful of ingredients, and literally five minutes (including prep!) to whip one of these treats up, and I promise that it will become a part of your standard snack and/or dessert rotation with no guilt!

Peanut Butter Mug Cake

This healthy peanut butter mug cake from is incredibly delicious and can literally be made up in three short minutes. It is refined sugar free, gluten-free, and can be made to be vegan by swapping out the egg for a replacement flax egg.


•2 Tbsp brown rice flour
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•1 egg/flax egg
•1 1/2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
•2 Tbsp almond milk
•1 tsp vanilla
•2 Tbsp honey/maple syrup (melted)
•2 Tbsp peanut butter
•Dark chocolate chips (as many as you want)


1. Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the other ingredients (except the chocolate chips) and whisk until well combined.
3. Pour the mixture into a large mug (or 2 small mugs) and top with chocolate chips.
4. Place the mug in the microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes and allow it to cool slightly before devouring!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Delicious Apple Cake and Apple Muffins Recipes to Look Out For

Fall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy the leaves changing color, and apple picking season. Apple Day is an annual apple celebration held at orchards in October. The first event was held on Oct. 21, 1990; however, apple events are now held throughout the month of October.
Apple Cake
Want a guilt-free apple cake? Try the following gluten-free, and vegan apple cake recipe:

1/4 cup of brown rice flour, 1 tbsp. of quinoa flour, 3 tbsp. of tapioca flour, 1/4 cup and 3 tbsp. of organic cane sugar, 1/4 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of xanthan gum, 1/4 tsp. of Celtic sea salt, 3 tbsp. of grapeseed oil, 2 tbsp. of vanilla rice milk mixed with a little vinegar, 1 tsp. of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp. of warm water, 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract, 1 small apple, coarsely grated, makes about 3/4 cup, 3 tbsp. of chopped pecans.

3 tbsp. of vegan margarine or ghee, 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 tsp. of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. of maple syrup.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Grease two small cans, lightly dust with brown rice flour, and place on a baking sheet for easy handling. Place the flaxseed mixture, oil, vanilla, and rice milk mixture in a small bowl, and whisk well.

Combine the cane sugar, baking soda, salt, flours, cinnamon, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients, and mix until everything is moist. Stir in the pecans and apple.

Divide the batter between the two pans, smooth the tops with the back of a teaspoon, and bake the cakes for about 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes at clean

Remove baking sheet from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cans, invert them to release the cakes, and cool completely.

Prepare the frosting, by mixing the icing sugar and vegan margarine, then add the brown sugar and maple syrup and whisk well. Frost your cakes.

Apple Muffins
Here is a recipe for paleo apple muffins, with coconut butter frosting:

3 eggs, 1/3 cup of honey, 1 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon,  1/2 tsp. of ginger, 1/4 tsp. of cloves, 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. of grey Celtic sea salt, 3 tsps. of baking powder, Coconut butter plus 1/2 cup for frosting, 2 cups of chopped apple, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.

To make coconut butter, put as much shredded coconut as desired into a high-speed blender, and add a few tablespoons of coconut oil until it starts to thicken. The longer you blend, the smoother the butter will be.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together eggs, spices, salt, honey, and baking powder. Stir in coconut butter until thoroughly combined. Add the apples, stir, and put into muffin tins. You can fill in more than regular muffins since these don’t rise as much. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Take from the oven and allow to cool.

In a food processor, or blender, you will blend together a half cup of coconut butter with vanilla, honey, and water, until it reaches a desired consistency. Spread it on the muffins or eat them plain.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Foodie targets: dumplings, knuckles, cakes and cocktails

Dumplings at Mr Wong

Yummy yummy yum cha at Mr Wong, Sydney. Executive chef Dan Hong and his team make on average 12,000 dumplings a week and Hong says 95 per cent of all tables order the eight-piece steamed dim sum platter, available evenings. In addition to the more traditional har gau and siu mai styles, dim sum chef Michael Luo makes his own specialties such as truffled wagyu puff and lobster and scallop dumplings. Street food was never this good. Beyond dumplings, there are more than 60 dishes from a Cantonese-style menu in the 240-seat CBD powerhouse.

Cakes at Bibelot, Royal Show

Roll up, roll up; it’s not just toffee apples and fairy floss on hand to get you through a long day at the Royal Melbourne Show this year. Gearing up for another big blowout on its petit gateaux from Saturday is South Melbourne cake shop Bibelot, after last year’s dispatch of 1470 cakes in just four days at the show’s Winning Tastes Pavilion. Our suggestion: consider leaving a suitable period after consumption of Bibelot’s macarons, biscuits, bonbons or chocolates before heading to a spinning ride or rollercoaster.

Pork knuckles at Oktoberfest

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, der Gemutlichkeit — sing along even if you don’t know the words as Oktoberfest comes around. It’s not just drinking and it’s not just in Munich these days, with Munich Brauhaus in Sydney and Melbourne and the Bavarian Bier Cafe across Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast joining in the rowdy fun. Last year during the six-week festival the venues sold about 50,000 crispy pork knuckles. Dance and sing along with the oompah bands or take the Schnitzelmeister challenge to conquer 1kg of schnitzel. A helpful phrase for the next day — Mein kopf tut weh (my head hurts).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Kid-friendly Recipes for Cake

Huen Su-Yin is the pastry chef with a cake shop called Delectable by Su. She recently published her first book entitled How I Built My Cake Shops: The Delectable Story which catalogues her cake-making trajectory from budding interest to burgeoning passion to full-time business.

Huen still makes and bakes cakes but has a team helping her and has changed her culinary perspective dramatically since getting married and having kids (she has two young sons).

She is now on a mission to make more child-friendly desserts, things that children would instantly fall in love with.


For the base
120g crushed digestive cookies or
graham crackers or butter cookies
90g unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake
500g block cream cheese, softened
200g whipping cream
160g caster sugar
10g gelatine dissolved in 1/4 cup
hot water

For the rainbow colouring
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 drop liquid yellow food colour
5g strawberry preserve
5g blueberry preserve
1 drop liquid purple food colour
sprinkles, for decoration
fairy floss, for decoration

To make cookie base

Roughly mix crushed cookie crumbs and melted butter together. Press into the base of a greased 15cm (6”) springform pan. Set aside in the chiller to set.

To make cheesecake

Beat cream cheese in electric mixer until smooth. Add in cream, sugar, dissolved gelatine and beat until combined. Divide mixture into 3 equal portions in separate bowls. Mix lemon juice and yellow food colouring in one bowl; strawberry preserve in another bowl and the last bowl with blueberry preserves and purple food colour.

Pour bowl contents onto cookie base starting with purple at the bottom, strawberry in the middle and lemon on top, smoothing the layers out gently to create an even surface. Chill in refrigerator overnight or until set.

Unmould gently from springform and decorate with sprinkles and clouds of fairy floss before serving.