Coffee Pecan Financiers

Coffee and pecan financiers (23 of 39)

A PERFECT CONCOCTION | Pecans, ground sumiyaki coffee powder and a shot of nespresso add subtle warm undertones to the traditional financier.  

I love how baking brings out the perfectionist streak lurking deep within me. This Valentine’s day, me and my (single) girlfriends decided we’d get our hands dirty and do some baking.

To challenge ourselves, we set an ambitious goal to master the basic vanilla soufflé (which we managed to achieve). I also added another to our baking agenda for the afternoon  – to recreate Ottolenghi’s famed Coffee Pecan Financiers that sells likes hotcakes at his restaurant NOPI in London.

Coffee and pecan financiers (1 of 1)

Still missing Paris a lot, I was keen to make financiers again, but this time, I was set on making an adaptation of Ottolenghi’s Coffee Pecan Financiers from his well-known restaurant NOPI. Not too fond of anything too sweet, I reduced the icing sugar quantity by half and did away with the coffee pecan cream that often accompanies these little bars of gold.

Coffee and pecan financiers (29 of 39)

Coffee and Pecan Financiers

TIME: one hour | YIELDS: Makes 12 financiers

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g pecans
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • 65g malt powder (or Horlicks)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground coffee beans
  • 8 egg whites (300g)
  • 2 shots of espresso (60ml)
  • pinch of coarse sea salt

Coffee and pecan financiers (7 of 39)

METHOD:

  1. Roast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5. Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment-lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12–15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.Coffee and pecan financiers (1 of 39)
  2. To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden-brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin- (or clean J-cloth-) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.Coffee and pecan financiers (2 of 39)
  3. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside.Coffee and pecan financiers (4 of 39)
  4. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk.Coffee and pecan financiers (6 of 39)
  5. Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans. Coffee and pecan financiers (13 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (12 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (10 of 39)
  6. Bake the financiers by preheating the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Grease mould of muffin tray or financier tray. Spoon in the mix until three-quarters full and bake for 10 –12 minutes, until the cakes are golden-brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it.Coffee and pecan financiers (15 of 39)
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a cup of tea if desired.
Coffee and pecan financiers (21 of 39) Coffee and pecan financiers (28 of 39)Coffee and pecan financiers (4 of 5)

Super Moist Blueberry Muffins

Mana (12 of 23)

“I love you BERRY much” Blueberry Muffins | The moistest blueberry muffins with a lemon sugar crumble to take it over the top.

There is something just so homey and comforting about blueberry muffins. The thought of sitting down to relax, with a nice cuppa tea in one hand and taking a steamy bite of a freshly baked blueberry muffin is DIY therapy for my soul.

For those who are more health-conscious out there, I have managed to come up with a moist mouth-wateringly delicious blueberry muffin with a drastically reduced sugar and butter content. The key is to load up on the sour cream.  Sour cream will add moisture to these muffins, doing away with the addition of extra butter.

Last but not least, the addition of a lemon-zested sugar crumble takes this muffin over the top.

Mana (7 of 23)

These muffins are chock full of berry goodness and the sour cream makes them extra moist.

Mana (4 of 23)

Super Moist Blueberry Muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 20-25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Makes: 10 medium sized muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup (60g) of butter, softened
  • 30g of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals
  • 1 1/2 cup (180g) of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (roughly one lemon juiced)
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup of sour creamMana (2 of 23)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F and butter muffin moulds. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined. Add in egg, sour cream, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat again until well combined.Mana (23 of 23)
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Mana (21 of 23)
  3. Fold in dry ingredients into the sour cream mixture and fold with spatula. Gently stir in blueberries until throughly combined.Mana (20 of 23)
  4. To make topping, combine 1 tablespoon of brown sugar crystals with 1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest. Sprinkle ~1/4 teaspoon on the top of each muffin before shoving it into the oven.Mana (17 of 23)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove. Let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Best served warm.Mana (3 of 23)Mana (5 of 23)Mana (9 of 23).jpg

Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Cups

Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (7 of 9)

A healthy and light blueberry dessert that can be whipped up in ten minutes.

Feel like dessert but overwhelmed by guilt? That’s exactly how I felt tonight (given my recent binge fest on desserts and patisseries). To satisfy my sweet tooth – and seeing I had a tub of light ricotta and blueberries sitting idly in my fridge – I decided to come up with a healthy concoction: blueberry ricotta cups. Simply drizzle some honey into the ricotta, zest some lemon peel into it, and whisk away until a smooth consistency is reached. Spoon the finale into small cups and garnish with blueberries, Voila! It is really that simple.

INGREDIENTS:
(Makes two servings)

  • Punnet of fresh blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons of light ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, freshly grated
  • Icing sugar to dust (optional)

Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (3 of 9)

METHOD:

  1. Heap 4 large tablespoons of ricotta into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and grate in some fresh lemon zest. Hand whisk until combined to a smooth consistency. Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (1 of 9) Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (2 of 9)
  2. Spoon mixture into little dessert cups or ramekins. Mix freshly washed blueberries with a tablespoon of honey until evenly coated.  Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (4 of 9)
  3. Spoon blueberries on top of the dessert cups filled with the ricotta mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Dust with icing sugar to serve (optional).Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (6 of 9) Healthy Blueberry Ricotta Dessert Cups (9 of 9)

Lush Dark Chocolate Figs with Sea Salt

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (1 of 25)

Figs, chocolate, and a dash of sea salt make for a lush and irresistible dessert.

Dark chocolate. Figs. Sea salt. Three deceptively simple ingredients. But combine these separate components together and some magic transpires. The figs are instantly transformed into a lush a decadent dessert that will not fail to impress your guests at your next dinner party. What’s more? The entire process will not take you longer than 30 minutes.

Note of warning: be careful not to “overkill” on the sea salt. Also, feel free to substitute the sea salt with crushed pistachio if you prefer.

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (5 of 25)

 

INGREDIENTS:

Total time: 30 minutes | Serving size: Makes 6

  • 80g quality dark chocolate
  • 6 fresh figs
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt (or crushed pistachio if you prefer)

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (23 of 25)

METHOD:

  1. Break chocolate into chunks and pop into a heatproof bowl.  Sit bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie) and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (19 of 25)
  2. Once melted, dip each fig individually in the chocolate, rotate 360 degrees until the fig is evenly coated. While chocolate is still liquid, sprinkle sea salt on top of fig (NB: be careful of overdoing it, as you don’t want the fig to be ‘too salty’). Rest coated fig on a tray lined with parchment paper.

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (18 of 25)
Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (17 of 25)Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (16 of 25)3. Repeat for other figs. Once done, stick tray into refrigerator and wait until 15 minutes before taking out to serve.

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (11 of 25)

Lush Dark Chocolate Dipped Figs with Sea Salt (8 of 25)

Simply Divine Green Tea Cheesecake

Green Tea Cheescake (1 of 1)-2

This Asian-style green tea cheesecake is lighter and more delicate in texture than its New York counterpart

This Greentea/Matcha Cheesecake will blow your socks off. Literally.

Inspired by Teakha, my favourite teahouse in Hong Kong that is nestled away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, the urban concrete jungle. I have finally garnered up the patience – not to mention the courage – to recreate their signature green tea cheesecake. Lighter than the inevitable-waist-thickening-New York style cheesecakes, this green tea cheesecake is one true piece of sheer decadence.

Caveat emptor: not all green tea powders are created equal. Matcha earns its name because of the way it is grown, processed and ground. Matcha is a powdered green tea, but not all powdered green teas can be matcha. Matcha green tea powder comes from the tench leaves, and undergoes a very strict growing process. When the newest leaves start to bud, they are covered from sunlight. This give them a very different taste than sencha leaves, which grow in 100% sunlight.

Blocking 90% of sunlight slows the growth of the leaves and increases the production of the amino acids that give matcha its unique taste. The buds are hand picked and ground by certified tea artisans in a stone mortar. The end product is an extremely fine powder that can be dissolved in warm water.

What does this all mean from a nutritional point of view? Because matcha is made from high-quality tea, and the whole leaves are ingested, it’s a more potent source of nutrients than steeped green tea. In addition to providing small amounts of vitamins and minerals, matcha is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Another polyphenol in matcha called EGCG has been shown in research to boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.

So where did I get my matcha powder from? I was fortunate as my girlfriend Jaki gave me some high quality organic matcha powder from The Green Room in Suzhou a few months back. Finally, I had a reason to test it out and put it to good use! For those not too sure where to source the powder from, you can easily find high quality green tea / matcha powder in health food stores, Japanese/Asian supermarkets, and online.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 x 8oz packages of fat-free cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of green tea powder
  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 5-6 wholewheat Digestive biscuits

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius / 350 degrees fahrenheit. Start with making the base. To do so, crush 5-6 digestive biscuits in a bowl till it resembles a crumb like consistency.Green Tea Cheescake (1 of 2)
  2. Melt the butter in a pot. Pour melted butter into the bowl of crumbs and mix thoroughly with a spatula until evenly coated. Green Tea Cheescake (11 of 13)
  3. Layer the crumbs at the bottom of a ~8-inch diameter cake tin and even it out consistently. Green Tea Cheescake (1 of 2)-2
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until thoroughly combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.Green Tea Cheescake (10 of 13)Green Tea Cheescake (2 of 2)
  5.  Add the matcha powder to the mixture and beat again until smooth. Green Tea Cheescake (9 of 13)
  6. Brush leftover melted butter around the inside edges of the cake tin. Pour batter into the prepared crust cake tin.Green Tea Cheescake (8 of 13)
  7. To ensure a level surface for the cake top, smooth the batter with a spatula.Green Tea Cheescake (7 of 13)
  8. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of baking, cover the top of the tin with a piece of foil to prevent it from browning. Take the cake out. You will know when it is done if it looks firm and the centre jiggles evenly when it is shaken lightly.Green Tea Cheescake (6 of 13)
  9. Let the cake cool for at least one hour at room temperature before transferring it to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight (better) before slicing and devouring it all (extreme self-control needed). NB: This cheesecake can be prepared two days in advance. Simply just cover the cake and keep it refrigerated.Green Tea Cheescake (5 of 13) Green Tea Cheescake (3 of 13)Green Tea Cheescake (2 of 13)

Nigella’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Banana Chocolate Muffins (1 of 18)Found some overly ripe bananas lying around so decided to seize the opportunity and do something about it. Inspired by Nigella’s banana chocolate muffin recipe, I decided to put to good use my Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa I purchased from Ghiradelli Square last year in San Francisco and whip out my pretty blue and white striped muffin paper cups for display. Despite Nigella’s recipe says the batter can make 12 muffins, I guess I was too overly generous with my serving sizes since I only ended up with 5 muffins (albeit steroid-sized). I handed out my muffins to my friends the next day and the feedback was that they all thought it was delicious and super moist, not too oily or sweet.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is very straightforward and pretty fail-safe. In less than thirty minutes, you will end up with super moist muffins bursting with the goodness of banana and paired with the richness of premium cocoa.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 12 small or 5 gigantic muffins)

  • 3 very ripe or overripe bananas
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt, optional (I skipped)
  • Icing sugar, to dust (optional)

METHOD:

1) Preheat the oven to 400˚ F / 200˚C and line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Show no mercy and mash the bananas.

2) Beat in the oil with a whisk, followed by the eggs and sugar.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add this mixture to the banana mixture and stir gently until combined. Spoon into the muffin cups.

4)  Bake for 15-20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark, rounded and peeking proudly out of their cups. Let cool slightly in the pan before removing to a wire rack.

Nigella Banana Chocolate Muffins (18 of 18)

5) Once cooled, dust with icing sugar.

Nigella Banana Chocolate Muffins (3 of 18)

Wickedly Sinful Molten Lava Cake

Molten Lava Cake (4 of 29) Chocolate fondant. Molten lava cake. The dessert worth waiting for and saving your calorie quotient for the entire week. As complicated as it may appear, don’t be fooled – this little decadent dessert is actually deceptively simple to make. Timing, is key, but once you’ve mastered that I can assure you that in no time you would be whipping up batches of these hot chocolate puddings to impress your guests. The fondant has surely taken centre stage in the arena of desserts, being a firm favourite with dinner party hosts and Valentine’s day diners around the world, hoping to impress their guests with a tried and tested formula of seductive chocolate indulgence. Even Gordan Ramsay claims that the fondant is his best selling dessert in his restaurants! As for the origins of this pure decadent indulgence, who would have thought that this classic of French cuisine was only discovered thirty years ago, when triple Michelin starred chef Michel Bras created a dessert with a frozen chocolate ganache centre. His application for a patent on this molten-middled cake never came through – as evident from the dish’s appearance on menus in all corners of the world. Bad news for Bras, but brilliant for the millions of chocolate lovers everywhere who might otherwise never have tasted the beauty and richness of this simple little cake.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings):

  • 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing ramekins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup golden granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces (~175g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Molten Lava Cake (29 of 29)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Butter 4 ramekins/pudding moulds/muffin tins. Molten Lava Cake (1 of 2) 2) Melt the chocolate using the double boiler method, gently stirring until everything is dissolved to a smooth consistency. Set aside to cool to room temperature (Disclaimer: These aren’t my pair of hands –  yes, that’s right folks, I don’t have “man hands”). Molten Lava Cake (1 of 1) Molten Lava Cake (21 of 29) 3) Melt butter using the same method (or microwave) and let it cool to a moderate room temperature. Pour the butter and stir in the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the pinch of salt. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon or spatula. Molten Lava Cake (17 of 27) 4) Next, stir in the flour until just combined. The mixture should thicken at this stage. Molten Lava Cake (1 of 1)5) Crack the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, stirring after each addition until you get a smooth consistency. Molten Lava Cake (11 of 27) Molten Lava Cake (10 of 29) 6) Divide batter evenly among the prepared buttered ramekins. Molten Lava Cake (7 of 27)Molten Lava Cake (7 of 29)7) Place on tray and shove into the preheated oven for 10-11 minutes. (NB: once you’ve made them a couple of times you’ll know exactly how ‘molten’ you like them so can adjust timing accordingly for a more molten or firmer lava cake). Molten Lava Cake (6 of 29) 8) Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes.  To serve, turn out the cakes onto serving plates bottom side up, and dust with icing sugar. Accompany with mixed berries and a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. Voila! Sinful indulgence. Molten Lava Cake (1 of 1)