Category Archives: Sweet

The Sweet Stuff

Pandan Pancakes

I woke up this morning with an intense craving for pancakes. I pretty much jumped out of bed and immediately switched on the stove to heat up a pan (don’t worry, I brushed my teeth straight after).

As I reached for the flour in my larder, I saw a tiny green bottle out of the corner of my eye. It was a bottle of Pandan essence. Ding! I thought, why not switch things up a little? It is Good Friday after all. Everyone has green pancakes on Good Friday, don’t they? Okay, maybe not.

Pandan leaves (also called screwpine) have an incredible, subtle flavour and the most wonderful aroma. This is almost like the Southeast Asian vanilla, used in cakes and jellies and other sweet desserts. My granddad even puts some fresh pandan leaves in his car, which he claims deters cockroaches and other creepy crawlies from coming in. Strange, I know.

All you do is use your basic pancake recipe and add a few drops of this thick, green paste to the batter. Simple. I served this drizzled with honey instead of maple syrup – not sure how that would go with the Pandan flavour.

Thank goodness these didn’t come out looking (or tasting) like some freak experiment gone wrong. If you’ve never tried Pandan, you really, really need to.

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La Bete Noire

Aptly coined “The Black Beast”, this cake more than lives up to its translation. It’s incredulous that something that requires so few ingredients and such easy preparation could be so insanely delectable.

I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a cake that has been positively reviewed by so many. Hence, it was without trepidation that I chose to make the ‘beast’ over the weekend for my aunt’s birthday. It seemed fitting since she and the rest of us are chocolate fiends.

To date, this is undoubtedly the richest chocolate cake I have ever made and is not to be trifled with. The texture is like pure chocolate ganache and a thin sliver was really all anyone could handle. Even the richest cheesecake would pale in comparison.

Funny thing is, everyone’s utterance on their first bite was, oh my gawwwwwd, which led me to believe it was a little too heavy for their palates. Alas, their plates licked clean said everything my little baker-heart wanted to hear, or see.

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Peanut Butter Banana Honey Toast

I won’t dispute that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Heck, I think I’m one of those freaks who is hungry the second he jumps out of bed. Even if I have to get up at 6am or some ungodly hour, I’m instantly starving.

This was borne out of a bare refrigerator, and this. Have you ever seen anything that insanely delicious? Okay, don’t answer that.

Sliced bananas atop a thick slathering of peanut butter on hot toast. And as if that weren’t luscious enough, a little drizzling of honey. The bananas were sweet enough but the honey really kicks it up a notch. This ain’t the breakfast of champions, but it sure is pretty darn close.

Come on now, tell me you don’t wanna sink your teeth into that.

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Coffee Toffee Bars

I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I saw it on PW. She has a compelling, almost devilish way of drawing you in. The recipe is so incredibly simple and the list of ingredients is short, which is what I like a lot about it. Who doesn’t have pantry basics like flour and brown sugar?

This isn’t just a glorified blondie. Like a cookie recipe, the fat (butter sounds better) gets creamed with the sugar first. I did this by hand. Hey, it’s a lazy Sunday. Give me a break. Kudos to me for working those forearm muscles.

While I was making this, it dawned on me that I’d run out of eggs (what?), but thankfully, the recipe does not call for them. Phew! Hurrah for shortbreads.

I made changes to the original recipe. First, I subbed vanilla extract for almond. And, instead of just chocolate chips, I used white chocolate as well, for a bit of extra colour.

I’m sure this recipe can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, like adding nuts in or on top of the cookie, shredded coconut… Mmmm

I love sweets with a coffee flavour, and this hit the spot. My cousins tried it and said it reminded them of a Mrs. Field’s cookie bar, only better! Now that was a compliment.

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Red Bean Soup

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and at the end of the dinner you’re served a complimentary dessert? Most often, it’s a plate of fresh fruit. Sometimes, however, you might get a bowl of red bean soup. When I see the waiter ladling out this glorious burgundy liquid, I’m delirious.

This dessert is incredibly easy to make, and of course, open to variations. I don’t use a recipe, but leftovers are great for breakfast the next morning, especially when it’s cold out and oats are feeling so pasé.

I put the beans (sometimes on the packet they’re labeled as Adzuki beans), an orange peel and water in a pot on medium-high heat. When it reaches a boil, I turn a down to a simmer and cook the soup till the beans start to split (an hour or more). Then I add rock sugar. The light orange flavour goes really nicely with the beans. Or it could be that this is the way I’ve grown up having it and I can’t imagine it tasting any other way.

I had this for lunch today. It was cold and rainy, and I felt like something sweet. For me, this sweet soup always reminds me of my dad. Back home, he makes it frequently for any time of the day. Now whenever I make it, I think of him and I start to miss home.

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Rock Melon

Last night, I fell asleep to sheets of rain coming down hard on the roof. There’s something comforting about the pitter patter outside my window while I’m lying in bed.

I woke up this morning and it was incredibly sunny, a complete 180° to the freakish storms of last night. I wanted a ‘bright’ breakfast, if that makes any sense.

I think this must be the laziest way to eat rock melon, or cantaloupe, depending on where you are in the world. I cut the whole thing in half, then just scooped out the flesh with a spoon.

Yum.

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Sunshine On A Plate

pancakes before adornment

Pancakes must be my favourite breakfast. I never order them outside because I make pretty darn good ones. When I eat out, I almost never order food that I could ordinarily make on my own, whether it be pancakes, cheesecake, spaghetti Bolognese…

Woke up early this morning. The weather was still gloomy from yesterday (did I mention the freggin’ snowball-sized hail?) so I thought pancakes were fitting. No pancake-mix from a box, please! Why would you when these come together like a quick bread recipe and make the most fluffy and moist pancakes? The batter is quite thick because I like my pancakes that way.

Now there are a few important tricks to making great pancakes. For instance, always use a non-stick pan or griddle, because no oil or butter goes on it. Instead, I melt butter and mix it into the batter to avoid stickage and to add a nice butteryness and moistness to the cakes. I think I just did a ‘Rachael Ray’ and made up a gazillion non-words.

Also, I cannot stress enough the imperativeness of a lumpy batter, just like you would a muffin. Muy importante, por favor! If your batter is smooth, the cakes will end up like wet, rubbery cardboard. Is that a real thing? Now go forth and you’ll have sunshine on your plate too.

Ooh, the sun’s come out; albeit only for a moment, I’m sure.

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