Saturday, May 28, 2011


The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

I'm a certified chocoholic and when I read this month's Daring Bakers challenge I was hooked! Our hosts described it as over-the-top chocolate dessert and I wasn't disappointed, this is sooo good!

At first it was intimidating because of the various components which was supposed to be easier if it was done over two days which I didn't of course. I started my chocolate base and marquise at 7 in the morning this rainy Saturday and made my meringue at around 1 in the afternoon and because I still didn't buy a torch, I baked it for 2 hours in a slow oven. Oh and in between I made the spiced nuts. And finally before I plated it and took a picture--made my salted caramel sauce at 3 in the afternoon before finally plating it and taking a picture at 4! And it was all worth it...

Chocolate Base
Servings: n/a - this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately

12 oz (340 grams/ 1½ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
12 oz (355 ml/ 1½ cups) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) tequila
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/ less than an ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black

1 oz unsalted butter (2 tbsps./30 grams), softened

*I omitted both the tequila and corn syrup
Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Chocolate Marquise

Servings: 18 2.5"x2.5" cubes

11 large egg yolks at room temperature

4 large whole eggs

2/3 cup (150 grams/ 5.3 oz) sugar

1/3 cup (2⅔ fluid oz/ 80 ml.) water

Chocolate Base, barely warm

2 cups (16 fluid oz./ 500 ml.) heavy cream

2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling)

(Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark. Make sure it's a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)

Torched meringue (recipe follows)

Spiced almonds (recipe follows)

Cacao nibs (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop.
With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk. When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute. Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn't allow in any air).
Freeze until very firm, at least 2 - 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.
Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don't do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.
Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they've softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you'll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

Torched Meringue
Servings: Makes about 4 - 5 cups of meringue. If you aren't planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.

11 large egg whites

1 ¾ cups (14 oz or 395 gms) sugar

Splash of apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid. Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don't feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot. Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.When you're ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.

*I piped my meringue into disks and baked them for 2 hours in a slow oven

Tequila Caramel
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of caramel

1 cup (8 oz.) sugar

1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) water

1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 240 ml.) heavy cream

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons tequila

*I omitted the tequila and used Himalayan salt
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat. Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spiced Almonds
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds

1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg white

1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds

*I used cashews instead of almonds and crushed them before adding to the spice mixture
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it's frothy and thick. Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake the nuts for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.

I would like to say thank you to Audax for the half-recipes which I used. And of course thank you to our hosts Emma and Jenny for this wonderful chocoholic's dream recipe! I am still in chocolate heaven!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kulinarya Cooking Club May Theme--Flores de Mayo

I've always associated May with flowers not only because of Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) but also because it is my birthday month and I was named after a flower--there's a little trivia for you :)

This month's hosts decided that for this month's challenge it was going to be flower or fiesta themed. I really wanted to make a flower salad but I didn't have any idea where I could get edible flowers and thanks to the warning of Ray about allergens, I chose to just go with the fiesta theme. But I had the opportunity to go to Bohol Bee Farm for my birthday and I made sure I ate their Spicy Flower Salad which not only looks gorgeous but tastes delicious too!

According to the tourguide, one way of knowing if a flower is edible is that if bees flock to it for it's nectar,then it must be safe for human consumption, the salad had bougainvillea, hibiscus and other gorgeously colored ones that I couldn't remember. See what I mean?

So back to my post...I still wanted to stick to the flower theme even if I wasn't going to make the flower salad so I remembered a childhood favorite of mine, Paksiw na Pata which had dried banana blossoms or bulaklak ng saging--perfect! Dried banana blossoms are plentiful in the supermarket so it was no problem sourcing them.

Pata Chops 500 grams
Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 5 pieces
Dried Bay leaves 2 pieces
Black Peppercorn 1 teaspoon
Water, enough to cover meat
Soy Sauce 1/4 cup
* I used Japanese Shoyu
Vinegar 2 tablespoons
*I used 4 spices vinegar
Brown Sugar 2 tablespoons
Oyster Sauce 1 tablespoon
Banana Blossoms, handful (soften in water for 5 minutes)
Patis (Fish Sauce) to taste

Place Pata Chops, crushed garlic, bayleaves, peppercorns and water in a deep pot. Boil and simmer until pork is tender, around 1 hour (the pata chops were thinly sliced so it took less than an hour). Add the soy sauce, simmer for 10 minutes, add the vinegar, cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the patis and oyster sauce, adjust taste and add the banana blossoms. Cook for 5-10 minutes more. Serve hot.
*I took out the meat after this but thickened the sauce by cooking it down and then pouring it over the meat on the plate.

Thank you to our hosts Connie and Sefie for this month's theme. I really enjoyed cooking and eating it :)

Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colorful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

If you are interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!

For more of Flores de Mayo themed food. click here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eat a Rainbow!

Summer in the Philippines is really hot, we are talking 33 degrees celsius and the humidity can go as high as 99 percent--I mean it's really hot, even for someone who was born and bred in this tropical country, that is hot. Thank God for airconditioned rooms!

I've made a conscious effort to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to my lifestyle and I've been having lots and lots of salad as my main meals these days. Mind you, these are not the usual salads that I used to order at restaurants...I make them more interesting than usual and I try to vary the texture so I won't get bored eating them. I call this one my Rainbow Salad because of the vibrant colors from the fruits and vegetables I used.

Mixed Greens
Broccoli, lightly steamed
Red Cabbage, sliced thinly
Red Bellpepper, seeded, and sliced into strips
Carrots, peeled and Sliced into matchsticks
Mangoes, cubed
Almonds, raw and chopped roughly
Pumpkin Seeds

Tamarind Paste 1 tablespoon
Apple Cider Vinegar 1 teaspoon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper to taste

Whisk all dressing ingredients together until salt is dissolved and mixture is thick.

It doesn't even take 10 minutes to make this salad and it tastes unbelievably delicious. I make this for lunch and it's not only filling it also energizes me for the rest of the day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Our May Hostess Denise of There's a Newf in my Soup!, challenged the Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we'd need from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Hmmm yes I have to say it's good to be back to blogging again, April was a non-inspired month for me and I couldn't or wouldn't write anything here that was worthy to be posted. But I'm back and what a challenge! I love gumbo!

Denise gave us the freedom to use whatever gumbo recipe we had, but I chose to stick to the recipes she provided.

There's Mr. Crab sitting on a bed of brown rice ready for his pictorial :)


1 cup (240 ml) canola oil

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour

2 large onions, diced

6 jumbo blue crabs, each cut into four pieces (if unavailable, omit, or substitute another type of crab)

1 pound (½ kilogram) spicy smoked sausage links, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick (optional, but encouraged if you eat sausage)

1 stalk celery, diced

1 green bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup (240 ml) (160 gm) (5½ oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available). If fresh or frozen is unavailable, you can leave it out because the roux will provide enough of a thickener.

Leaves from sprig of fresh thyme

3 quarts (3 liters) shrimp (prawn) stock

2 bay leaves

1 pound (½ kilogram) peeled and deveined medium Louisiana or wild shrimp (prawn) (Note: If you are buying whole, head-on shrimp, which you will need in order to use the heads and peels for stock, you will then need approximately 4 pounds (2 kilograms) of shrimp to yield enough heads/shells for the stock. Although the recipe only calls for 1 pound (½ kilogram) of shrimp, you will end up with a little over 2 pounds of cleaned shrimp (1 kilogram), which I found was perfect for this size pot of gumbo)

1 pint (475 ml) (450 gm) (16 oz) shucked oysters

8 ounces (225 gm) lump crabmeat

1 cup (240 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) minced green onions (scallions, or spring onions)


Freshly ground black pepper

Basic Creole Spices, to taste, to taste

Tabasco, to taste

4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice

1.Prepare shrimp stock, if using.

2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using

3. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning

4. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

5. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the blue crabs and smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, garlic, and okra. Increase the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.

7. Add the thyme, shellfish stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

9. Add the shrimp, oysters, crabmeat and green onions to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure everything is ready to serve before adding the shellfish to the gumbo. DO NOT OVERCOOK your shellfish.

10. Season with salt and pepper, Creole Spices, Worcestershire, and Tabasco.

11. Serve in bowls over rice.

*I made only 1/3 of this recipe, didn't use crab meat anymore sinc

e I used crabs. I also didn't use oysters but the flavor of the sausage, shrimps and crabs was enough :)

*Instead of Basic Louisiana White Rice, I served my gumbo over steamed Brown Rice.

I had this for lunch today and I still have some leftovers for dinner. Thank you Denise for hosting this month's Daring Cooks Challenge!