Monday, 18 February 2013

Pear Sorbet

It's been a while since my last post with all my relatives from overseas coming over! However, I did use this opportunity to make all the foods I had been craving (yet restraining myself from baking) over the past few weeks - it's hard to restrain yourself from homemade goodies when you're living in a house of only two!

I only have time to post this healthy yet delicious pear sorbet recipe - but will try my best to upload the others as soon as possible! When making pear sorbet, be sure to choose unripe and unbruised pears when buying them, and allow them to ripen out of the fridge (usually takes 2-3 days). The riper the pears, the sweeter your sorbet will be and the less sugar you will need to add - it is truly a refreshing dessert to cool off in the summer!

I put a creative spin on my dessert by shaping the sorbet into a pear when serving it to my relatives. I also saved the stalks of each pear to garnish the top of each moulded sorbets - one of my relatives actually thought I was serving her a full-fledged pear! Although it may seem a tad odd, serving the sorbet with another ice cream I made (coconut) was actually a good accompaniment since the coconut was more on the sweet and rich/heavier side, whereas the sorbet was somehow more of a refreshing pellet cleanser.

Pear Sorbet
Recipe: Adapted from yummymummykitchen

1kg worth of pears (approx. 4-5 pears - I used Bartlett pears)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2t fresh lemon juice

Peel and de-core each pear and roughly cut them into 3cm pieces.
(Save the stalk if you are planning to present this in the shape of a pear.)

Place chopped pears into a saucepan with water and sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring until pears are cooked and tender to touch.

Pour pear mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. If you don't have one like me - forcing the mixture with a spoon through a large sieve also does the trick (albeit time consuming!)

Thoroughly chill the pear mixture in the fridge. Add lemon juice to the mixture before churning in an ice cream machine until soft set.

Freezing the sorbet for 3-4 minutes after using glad-wrap to shape it into a pear helps set the shape, and also makes it easier to to make further adjustments later.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Condensed Milk Cookies

These golden and crispy cookies are not only easy to make, but also very addictive! Since they only require three simple ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, butter and self raising flour - it is my go-to recipe when I have cookie cravings on a lazy day. Another plus about them is you can add chocolate chips, desiccated coconut or nuts to them as a filling! I added 100 and 1000s on mine which makes me happy by just looking at how colourful they are :) Make sure you use good quality and REAL butter (not low fat butter or margarine!) - or else they won't taste as good.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite bloggers: Raspberri cupcakes - also a Sydney blogger with a number of creative recipes! You guys should definitely check them out. Since her recipe seemed to make a lot of cookies, I did a half recipe instead. If you live with a house full of animals, simply feel free to double the recipe :)

stacks on!

Condensed Milk cookies

200g softened butter
200g sweetened condensed milk
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (optional - I find these make the cookies crunchier)
Toppings/fillings of your choice (100s and 1000s, chocolate chips, nuts and sultanas are some good options!)
*If you prefer your cookies to be plain you may want to add 1tsp of vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, then add condensed milk and beat until smooth. Be sure to occasionally scrap the sides of the bowl to ensure both ingredients mix evenly.

Stir in flour until just combined (don't over mix, this will make your cookies tough) - and voilĂ ! You have your cookie dough! If you are adding chocolate chips or some other fillings to your dough, this would be the time to add them.

The mixture should be soft and slightly sticky, but relatively easy to handle if you wet your hands with some water, or lightly flour them. I used a teaspoon amount to roll the cookie dough into balls, then pressed them into a bowl of 100s and 1000s to coat and flatten them into discs.

Bake cookies until lightly golden (~8-10 minutes for small cookies, ~10-15 minutes for larger cookies).

lonely cookie

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Popcorn Ice Cream with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

My recent obsession with making ice-cream has sparked me to attempt a sweet and savoury flavour: popcorn with salted butter caramel sauce. The flavour reminds me of the times I ate each mouthful of popcorn with a bite of my vanilla ice cream at the movies when I was young, except that this was better because of the rich toffee-like caramel sauce.

Homemade caramel sauce is 10000x better than what you purchase at the supermarkets! The flavour of this ice cream isn't that sweet so it compliments the caramel very nicely. Unlike a lot of other recipes out there that use butter flavoured popcorn, I just used plain air-popped popcorn to flavour my custard, which makes this recipe a smidgeon more healthy than other recipes whilst still tasting divine at the same time!

Popcorn Ice Cream 
Recipe: Adapted from Almost Bourdain

500ml full fat milk
300ml whipping cream
50g + 10g caster sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 egg
60g prepared popcorn (I used plain air-popped)
Salted butter caramel sauce (recipe below)

Heat the milk, cream, popcorn and 50g of sugar in a saucepan until it's just below the boiling point and starts to bubble. Remove from heat and allow popcorn to infuse its flavour for 30 minutes, then strain.

Whisk 10g of sugar with vanilla and egg until it reaches the ribbon stage. While still whisking, incorporate around a 1/4 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture, then pour this back into the saucepan with the cream - mixing well to combine.

Heat the mixture again on medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens into a velvety custard.
Once thickened, remove from heat and pour it into a bowl to cool throughly.

Churn in an ice cream machine until soft set, then transfer into an air tight container to freeze for another couple of hours before serving with popcorn and salted caramel sauce (recipe below).

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce Recipe
Recipe: Adapted from Almost Bourdain

50g sugar
50g thickened cream
4g salted butter
Pinch of sea salt

Heat the sugar in a saucepan over moderate heat without stirring. Once the sugar near the edge starts to liquefy, use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to stir gently. (Sugar will start to look grainy at this stage, but it will become runny and amber coloured as it melts.)

Add in the cream and butter whilst stirring vigorously - the mixture will bubble furiously as you add the cream, but it is important you continue stirring to make sure the mixture is smooth. Add salt to taste.

If you like your sauce less rich or a bit runnier, gradually whisk some water into the caramel until you achieve your desired consistency.

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

Sydney weather has been incredibly hot for the past couple of days, so I decided it was time to make some ice cream to cool myself down! Instead of the ordinary berry flavours I always turn to, I decided to become a bit more adventurous this time and make a batch with one of my favourite teas: Earl Grey. The result was fabulous and I can't believe I didn't make try this flavour sooner! There is nothing like an incredibly smooth ice cream scented with the lovely delicate aroma of ambrosial bergamot on a hot sunny afternoon.

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream
Recipe: Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 4-6

2-2.5T loose Earl Grey tea leaves
300ml milk
250g whipping cream
70g caster sugar
3 egg yolks

Heat the milk, cream and tea leaves in a small saucepan until the mixture almost begins to boil.
Remove from heat and allow tea leaves to infuse for ten minutes, then strain.

In a separate medium-sized (heat resistant) bowl, whisk yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy.
Quickly whisk in a quarter of the strained cream mixture into the yolks, and then the rest of the mixture, stirring well to combine.

Place the bowl over a double boiler (make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water) and leave to cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens (~10-15 minutes). Once the mixture has a thick and velvety texture, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap (with the wrap touching the surface of the cream to prevent the formation of a "skin") and chill for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

Churn in an ice cream machine until soft set, then transfer into an air tight container to freeze for another couple of hours before serving.