It is good to have a back up plan when things go awry.

I was fooled into believing that us folk in Brisbane were enjoying a delightful spring.  But it seems we have skipped spring and gone straight to summer.  (Not happy.)  Not only because I am not a fan of summer (apart from being furnished with juicy, fresh stone fruit) but because my next planned dish for Kid’s Party month was best prepared in temperatures, let say, under 30C (~90F).

This past weekend I was ready to put together a new recipe for a soft cookie ice-cream sandwich.  (One of Mr Mélanger’s favourite treats.)  The ice cream was made.  Check.  The cookie dough had been chilled, rolled and baked.  Check.

But then it came to assembly.

Despite working on a cool marble surface, the surrounding warm air melted the ice cream almost instantly as I tried to cut wedges out.  An initial very neat 8cm square chunk quickly became a 6cm, then 5cm, then 4cm fuzzy round type shape thing.  It was all a bit of a disaster, so I decided to abandon the cause.

On the up side, given the fact baby Mélanger’s birthday will always be at an unfriendly-baking-temperature time of year, it is probably best to realise it would not be sane to try to turn out a couple of dozen homemade ice cream sandwiches for a party celebration in the future.

So, enter plan B.

With a cookie concept still on my mind, but sans the pesky ice cream prone to melting, I opted to whip up a batch of hundreds and thousand cookies!  A healthy dose of playful hundreds and thousands (nonpariels) was originally planned to decorate the edges of my ice cream sandwich.  So why not pop them on a cookie instead?  The popular store bought version of the hundreds and thousand cookie was my inspiration, showcasing the perfect pink hue, just the thing for this month’s theme.

{ Homemade hundreds and thousand cookies }

This recipe uses a basic sugar cookie dough.  Once the dough is chilled it can be cut into any desired shape.  The topping is a simple (coloured) royal icing, but made with pasturised egg white powder as opposed to the traditional fresh egg whites.  Also, to keep things simple, I created only one consistency of royal icing – no separate versions for outlining and flooding.  Hence the ‘rustic’ finish!

* Ingredients *
Dough
225g plain flour
85g unsalted butter
75g sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla

Royal icing
115g icing sugar
1 teaspoon egg white powder
3 teaspoon warm water
3 teaspoons lemon juice

* Directions *
For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.  Preheat oven to 160C and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough.  Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired.

For the royal icing:  In the bowl of a mixer beat the icing sugar, egg white powder, water and lemon juice until combined.  Then beat on medium speed until glossy and stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Add food coloring, if desired.

Makes about 18 cookies, depending on size

 

As a child, I had a voracious appetite for squishy and gummy lollies.  Fruity, sugary, chewy.  Any type.  There was no discrimination in my book.  My little hand was happy to place any amount of sugar into my mouth.  So much so I am sure I had a stash lollies hidden away in my childhood bedroom.  I had quite a sweet tooth.  (Still do…)

I could almost guarantee that every kids party I attended as a child included a mix of lollies.  Sitting back reflecting on those parties, I could imagine even if I was not close friends with the birthday girl/boy, I was happy enough to attend the little gathering just to graze the sweet food table.

So summoning up a little nostalgia for my next kids party month installment, I include a selection of homemade lollies.  The choices probably reflect personal bias, as these are some of my ultimate sugar ladened sweets.

When the time really comes for me to whip up a selection of party lollies for baby Mélanger, I am sure her little friends will be happy with fluffy marshmallow and fruity jellies.  But I would question how well a group of pint sized people would enjoy the subtle rose flavour of Turkish Delight.  Though remembering parents often attend these celebrations, the slightly more sophisticated flavour of this sweet may appeal?

Either way, the beauty of this sugary trio is that they only take about 60 minutes to put together.  And once done, you end up with over 150 pieces combined.  Surely enough to satisfy the collective sweet tooth of even the largest party crowd?

{ Turkish Delight } Adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly

I was originally planning to make Claire Clark’s Turkish Delight recipe.  It was the only hard copy I had on hand of a more authentic version which is made without gelatin.  But when push came to shove, I knew I needed an hour to make Claire’s recipe, so opted for the short cut version here.  You do get what you pay for, so to speak.  This recipe produces a Turkish Delight that is not as soft as what you get when spending an hour stirring over the stove, but it is a pretty good substitute.

* Ingredients *
45g gelatin
60ml water
660g caster sugar
500ml water, extra
110g cornflour
2 tablespoons glucose
1 teaspoon rosewater
Pink food colouring
110g icing sugar, sifted

* Directions *
Grease a deep 20cm square cake pan.  Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small jug, stand jug in a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir until gelatin dissolves.  Combine caster sugar and 3/4 cup of the extra water in a saucepan, stir without boiling until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil without stirring until syrup reaches 116C.  Simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove pan from heat.  Meanwhile, place cornflour in another medium saucepan, and gradually blendin remaining extra water.  Bring to a boil, stirring until mixture thickens.  Gradually stir hot sugar syrup, gelatin mixture and glucose into cornflour mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in rosewater, and tint.  Strain mixtures through sieve into cake pan.  Allow to stand uncovered overnight.  Turn onto board dusted with icing sugar, and cut with knife into cubes.  Roll pieces into remaining icing sugar.  Store for up to two weeks in airtight container.

Makes 48 pieces

{  Pink Marshmallow } Adapted from Claire Clark, Indulge

* Ingredients *
350g caster sugar
150ml glucose
4 teaspoons gelatin
250ml water
2 medium egg whites
200g icing sugar
Pink food colouring, optional

* Directions *
Grease a 30x20cm baking tray, then line with parchment.  Grease well.  Put the sugar and glucose into a pan and stir well.  Place over allow heat and stir until melted.  Stop mixing, and turn up the heat until the sugar reaches 118C.  As soon as the sugar has started, start to prepare the other ingredients.  Put the water and gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Then add the egg whites and star the machine on medium speed.  Whisk until egg whites form soft peaks.  When the sugar has reached the correct temperature, turn down the machine and pour in the hot sugar into the whites.  Beat again for 2 minutes, then increase to high and beat for about 10-15 minutes.  Towards the end, add the food colouring if desired.  Spoon the mixture int the prepared ray, and leave to set uncovered overnight.  Cut the mixture into cubes using a knife dipped into warm water.  Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and toss the cut marshmallow in it to coat.  Leave on tray for a few ours to form a skin.

Makes 80 pieces

{ Raspberry & Strawberry Pâte de Fruit } Adapted from Claire Clark, Indulge

* Ingredients *
350g strawberries, cleaned and hulled
350g raspberries, cleaned
500g sugar
70ml glucose
150ml water
45g liquid pectin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
100g granulated sugar

* Directions *
Lightly grease a 20cm square baking tin, and line with cling film.  Put the berries in a food processor then pass through a sieve.  Weigh the fruit, you will need 500g finished weight.  Stire 50g of the sguar into the puree.  In a large suacepan, mix the remaining sguar with the glucose and water.  Bring to the boil stirring only until the sugar and gluocse have dissolved.  Boil without stirring until the sugar reaches 130C.  In a small bowl, mix the puree with the pctin.  Once the syrup as reached the termpature, add teh puree and stir to combine.  The termpatuer will drop. Bring it back to 103C.  Do not stir.  Add the lemon juice and continue to cook until 106C.  Stir the fruit mixture once or twice just berfore you put it into the tin.  Leve to cool and set overnight at room termpuatre, uncovered.  Cut the jellies into cutes and place into a bowl of granulated sguar to coat.  Leave on a tray to dry for an hour.  The jellies will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks.

Makes 40-50 jellies

 

 

 

As a child, I adored achingly sweet food.  For me, coconut ice was the pinnacle of sweetness.

How could a kid not love condensed milk (laced in buckets of sugar!), mixed with even more sugar and oodles of sweet coconut?

I am sure this little square confection is popular at birthday parties, so I decided to put a spin on an old favourite to create a coconut ice flavoured doughnut.  Essentially, a condensed milk based sweet bread dough, topped with sweet icing and coconut.  Pretty delicious in my book!

These doughnuts are baked, so if you feel a little guilty with the amount of sugar you are consuming, just remember these have not been deep fried!

{‘ Coconut ice’ doughnuts }

For this baked doughnut, I adapted my standard sweet dough recipe switching out some of the milk for condensed milk to create a softer and richer dough.

These are best when straight from the oven, but like most breads, they freeze well.

For the batch I created, I topped one half with the coconut ice inspired topping and the other I brushed on melted butter and sprinkled a healthy dose of cinnamon sugar for more of an old fashion doughnut flavour.

* Ingredients *

For the dough
100g condensed milk
150g whole milk
7g dried instant yeast
45g caster sugar
60g eggs, about 1 large
5g salt
500g bread flour
75g unsalted butter, diced

For the topping
100g icing sugar
15g whole milk
Pink food colouring, optional
Desiccated coconut

*  Directions *
Warm the condensed milk and milk to 37C (lukewarm).  Add to a bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment along with the yeast and allow to sit for five minutes.  Add the sugar, eggs and salt.  Add in half of your flour and start to mix on a low speed for a few minutes.  Then add a further quarter of your flour and mix again for a few minutes.  Stop mixing when there is no dry flour in the dough.   Then start to add the butter gradually piece by piece.  Mix the dough for a few minutes once all incorporated.  Lastly, add in the remaining flour and mix until dough comes together into a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl too much.  It should be smooth, soft, elastic and slightly sticky.   Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature until doubled – anything between 60-90 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. When the dough has risen, sprinkle a pinch of flour on it and knead to deflate the dough.  Divide the dough into 18 even pieces.  Like you are preparing a bagel with the roll and loop method, roll into a rope about 10-15cm long.  Form each rope into a circle and join the ends, pressing well to seal.  Place on the baking trays cover with a towel and leave to prove again for 20-30 minutes and preheat the oven to 200C.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.  While baking preparing the icing.  Simply mix the icing sugar with the milk and add food colouring if desired.  Once baked, allow to cool for a few minutes, then top with the icing and sprinkle on with desiccated coconut. These are most delicious eaten when warm, but are also great to freeze.

Makes 18

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these ‘Coconut Ice’ Doughnuts to Yeastspotting.

It seems like only yesterday I announced, “It’s a girl!”  Believe it or not, this month, baby Mélanger celebrates her first birthday.  My little baby girl turns one!

But what is a birthday, without a birthday cake?  Formulating the flavour, shape and style of her very first cake has been a preoccupation over the recent months (yes, of course I started thinking about this early).  But while doing so, I became giddy with excitement at the realisation of all the many cakes, cookies, sweets and pastries in my birthday party organising future.

This birthday will be very low key, but there will be many celebrations over the years.  To mark the occasion of reaching our first year as a family, and baby Mélanger’s great milestones of turning one, join me in ‘Kids Party’ month.

I hope to experiment with a few pink themed ideas that are sure to show up in future birthday celebrations.  I hope you enjoy this month!


It has been a month of new flavours in the Mélanger kitchen.

Enjoying the fruit of an avocado in a sweet ice cream dessert.  Experimenting with glutinous rice flour and homemade red bean paste in a mochi cake.  Combining a water roux bread making method and the flavour of pandan in a popular ‘Rotiboy’ inspired bun.  And ditching the typical heavy “British influenced” pudding (a common craving for me!) for a light and refreshing Asian inspired tapioca pudding.

I hope you enjoyed my Asian inspired assortment.  But next month will take us in a completely new direction.  All I will say now is, I hope you will be tickled pink with the idea.  I know I am.

In the meantime, here is a round up of this month’s recipes!

  { Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream & sesame brittle } For quite some time I have wanted to incorporate avocado into a sweet dessert.   I was inspired by the avocado milkshake, apparently one of the most popular drinks in Southeast Asia, in Pichet Ong’s, The Sweet Spot.  This ice cream is sinfully sweet, yet surprisingly, pairs well with the sweet nuttiness of a crisp sesame brittle.

 

{ Green tea and red bean mochi slice } This slice is ridiciously simple.  But even better than that, it is delicious.  One taste, and I practically slapped myself for taking so long in whipping up this mochi slice.  It has a delightful hint of sweetness offset by the earthly flavour of the green tea.  And the sprinkling of red bean paste added a surprise texture with each mouthful.

 

  { Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns } It was quite shameful to admit I had never tasted the flavour of pandan.  So enter these soft and fluffy on the inside, and crunchy and sweet on the outside buns.  The best bit it uses a gelatinised dough method (water roux starter).  There really is nothing to it, and it truly does produce an unrivalled softness.  If you have never used this method of bread making before, I urge you to try.  Soon!

  { Coconut lime tapioca pudding with chilli salt green mango fritters } I paired a zesty green mango with this pudding.  I stuck with the tradition of serving the green mango with salt and chilli by sprinking a healthy dose on the fritters once cooked.  The inherent sweetness of the pudding (from the coconut milk as well as the lime syrup), is the perfect balance to counter the spicy, salty flavour of the fritter.

I finish my four courses of Asian Inspiration this month with a simple pudding.

I have never used tapioca before, after being personally less than enthusiastic from my mother’s description she recalls from her London-hot-school-lunch-days.

But then motivated by Ellie’s post earlier in the year, by a silky looking tapioca pudding (with banana spring rolls, a sweet kaffir lime syrup and crunchy toasted coconut flakes!), I was instantly converted.

(Sorry, Mum.)

I made a few twists to Ellie’s recipe, the most obvious omitting the banana spring roll and instead pairing the pudding with a green mango fritter.  I stuck with the tradition of serving the green mango with salt and chilli by sprinking a healthy dose on the fritters once cooked.

The inherent sweetness of the pudding (from the coconut milk as well as the lime syrup), is the perfect balance to counter the spicy, salty flavour of the fritter.

But the best part?  It is so simple.

{ Coconut lime tapioca pudding with chilli salt green mango fritters } Adapted from Ellie of Almost Bourdain.

* Ingredients *

Tapioca
1/4 cup tapioca / sago pearls
1 cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/3 cup coconut cream

Syrup
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
Zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1 lime

Fritters
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup iced water
1 green mango, sliced
1 teaspoon coarse salt, ground
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, ground

* Directions *
To make coconut tapioca pearls, boil the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tapioca pearls and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the tapioca pearls are cooked and translucent. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in coconut cream. Mix well, cool to room temperature and keep in fridge until needed.  To make the lime syrup, add the sugar, lime juice and water to a saucepan and stir to dissolve.  Heat over medium heat for 3-5 minutes without stirring.  Take off the heat, add the zest and set aside to cool.  To make the fritters, combine the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the iced water.  Mix until combined, and then pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Heat up a small saucepan of oil.  Dip pieces of the sliced mango into the batter and then fry in the oil until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).  Drain on paper towel.  Sprinkle with the chilli salt while hot.  To assemble, place the tapioca pudding in the bottom of a glass and drizzle with syrup.  Serve with the warm fritters.

Serves 3-4

Nestled in between my lofty dreams and goals is a little, cold stash of reality.  If you are like me, your notepads and daydreams are filled with places you want to see, people you would love to meet, experiences you want to have.  But the harsh truth is time and money is limited.

So what is the next best thing?

Reinventing your plans to suit your circumstances?  (How pragmatic is that?)

A little escape to Malaysia with the family may or may not be in my future, but bread baking sure is.  I came across these buns on Su-yin’s tasty blog, Bread et Butter.  This London resident, originally from Penang, shared a post on some coffee and matcha ‘Mexican’ buns.

I had never heard of these strangely named buns before.  Intrigued, I immediately investigated these (apparently very popular in Malaysia) buns further.  Apparently they have been made famous by a Penang based company called Rotiboy.

It is not every day you have a friend who can do a bit of a recce for you.  My friend Emma is currently living in Penang with her husband for the next 3 years.  (Well, make that 2 ½ more years.)

It seemed not even 24 hours past after a quick email exchange (asking if she had heard of these buns), when I received an MMS complete with close up images from the store in question.  Big snaps for Emma.

Motivated more than ever, I pressed on to make a batch in my little Brisbane kitchen.  But what recipe?  I decided to adapt a recipe from Chef Alex Goh, which appeared in a Malaysian food magazine, flavours.

It seemed fated.

The best bit about this bun, is it uses a gelatinised dough method (water roux starter).  There really is nothing to it, and it truly does produce an unrivalled softness.

If you have never used this method of bread making before, I urge you to try.  Soon!

In my research, there seemed no clear consensus on why these are called Mexican buns.  But my guess is because the technique and topping is similar to the famous Mexican bun, Conchas Blancas.  (But if anyone does know how they got the name, please let me know!)

{ Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns } Adapted from Alex Goh

* Ingredients *

Gelatinised dough
100g bread flour
70ml boiling water

Bread dough
300g bread flour
100g plain flour
80g sugar
20g milk powder
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
175g cold water
60g cold egg
60g cold butter, cubed

Topping
125g butter
125g icing sugar
1 egg
240g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon milk powder
1/8 teaspoon pandan paste

* Directions *
To make the gelatinised dough, add the boiling water into the flour and mix until well-blended to form dough. (I did this in a food processor.)  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.   The next day, add the flour, sugar, milk powder, yeast and salt to a mixing bowl.  Tear the gelatinised dough into pieces and add to the bowl along with the egg.  Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix on low adding the cold water gradually.  Mix until the dough is well combined and leaves the sides of the bowl.  Add in the butter and mix to combine.  Then mix until smooth and elastic.  Remove the dough and shape into a ball.  Put into a bowl, and cover with plastic.  Leave to proof for 40 minutes, until doubled.  To prepare the topping, cream butter and sugar until smooth then mix in egg. Add the four and milk powder and pandan paste, and mix until well incorporated. Preheat the oven to 190C.  To prepare the buns, divide the dough into 50g portions and mould into round balls.  Arrange on baking pan and leave to rest for 10 minutes.  Place the topping into a piping bag.  Pipe the topping in a spiral pattern onto the buns starting from the top and finishing about half way down the side of the dough.  Proof for a further 20-30 minutes and then bake for 12-15 minutes.  Best when eaten warm.

Makes 18-20 buns

 

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns to Yeastspotting.

Time is a funny thing.  Life for me never seems to slow down, and in fact my goals, dreams and aspirations only seem to proliferate at a frightening speed.  My ‘to-do’ lists are plentiful, grow daily, and always seem uncontrollably long!

So for the next installment in my Asian Inspiration month, let us rewind 2 years.

Back in July 2009, I was inspired by a quick and easy, one bowl wonder using glutious rice flour at one of my favourite blogs, Lemonpi.  When reading this recipe for a Mochi Cake creation, I was intrigued by the chewy texture this flour produced.  I had seen this ingredient at my local asian grocer, but never had used it myself.

As enthusiast as the uber talented Lemonpi is about all the creations she shares on her blog, there was something particularly appealing about the versatility and adaptability of this recipe.  So I marked it down on one of my many lists. 

2 years later, here we are!

After a quick round up of supplies, and a few turns of a wooden spoon, this slice was in the oven.  One taste, and I practically slapped myself for taking so long in whipping up this mochi slice.  It has a delightful hint of sweetness offset by the earthly flavour of the green tea.  And the sprinkling of red bean paste added a surprise texture with each mouthful.

Knowing this slice was going to be a breeze to put together, I thought the very least I could do is make my own red bean paste.  Sure, you can buy in in a tin, but where is the fun in that?  That turned out to be pretty simple, too.  All in all, a wonderfully simple, Asian inspired sweet treat.

{ Green tea and red bean mochi slice } Mochi recipe adapted from Lemonpi

* Ingredients *
115g glutinous rice flour
5g green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
40g unsalted butter, melted
95g caster sugar
100g evaporated milk (about 1/4 can)
1 egg
125g red bean paste (see below)

* Directions *
Preheat the oven to 175?C. Grease and line 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square cake tin.  Sift the flour, green tea and baking powder together. In an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in the melted butter, then the evaporated milk.  Fold in the dry ingredients and red bean paste.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake on a rack, then remove from tin and cut into slices.

{ Red Bean Paste / Tsubushi-An } recipe by Apple Pie, Patis & Pâté

* Ingredients *
180 grams (about 1 cup) red azuki beans
150 (about ¾ cup) sugar
Pinch of salt

* Directions *
Wash the azuki beans and place in a large pot filled with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, drain, and discard the water. Add about 3 cups of water to a pot containing the par-boiled azuki beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer the azuki beans until soft, approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours. The water should be almost completely absorbed by the time the beans are done. Add water as needed while simmering to prevent the beans from scorching.  Add the sugar, stirring gently until the azuki bean paste is heated through and glossy. Season with a pinch of salt and mix well. The paste should be thick with some whole and half-crushed azuki beans.

There has been a hint of spring in the air recently.

Fresh, warm breezes have been welcomed into our home.  Every single window has been opened wide to capture the full warmth of the sun.  The bright blue, sunny sky has charmed smiles from all of us.

The recent explosion of sunshine and happiness was reason enough for me to celebrate with a generous bowl of cool, homemade ice-cream.

For quite some time I have wanted to incorporate avocado into a sweet dessert.   I was inspired by the avocado milkshake, apparently one of the most popular drinks in Southeast Asia, in Pichet Ong’s, The Sweet Spot.

I took the basic ingredients that Ong includes in his recipe (avocado, whole milk, lime juice, condensed milk and salt), adapted the quantities to my taste and then continued the preparation to make ice cream.

This ice cream is sinfully sweet, yet surprisingly, pairs well with the sweet nuttiness of a crisp sesame brittle.

{ Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream & sesame brittle }

Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream Recipe inspired by Pichet Ong’s, Avocado Milk Shake from The Sweet Spot

* Ingredients *
200g avocado flesh (approx. ¾ avocado – I used a Shepard avocado)
395g condensed milk (1 tin)
250ml whole milk
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch salt

* Directions *
Place all the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to a jug/bowl and refrigerate overnight.  The following day, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a container, and freeze for a further 1-2 hours to firm up the texture.

Sesame brittle Recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
40g sesame seeds (I used half white and black)
60g white sugar
30g water

* Directions *
Sprinkle the sesame seeds in a single layer over a silpat sheet on a baking tray.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, place the sugar and water and stir until clear.  Place over a medium heat and, without stirring, cook until syrup comes to a boil.  Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if necessary.  Continue to cook until it reaches 165C/325F.  At this stage, gently pour the caramel over the prepared sesame seeds.  With an offset spatula, evenly spread the caramel across the sesame seeds.  Allow to cool.

Separately, I have received a few gentle requests for an update on baby Mélanger.  I have not included any photographs of her on my blog all year (shame on me!).  She is, if you can believe it, only a couple of weeks away from 11 months!  So here is a little sequence from earlier this week.

I have started experimenting with some muffins (looking at low fat and low sugar options) for baby Mélanger.  Here is the result of one of my recent trials.  This muffin included blueberry, which she had never eaten before.

I think she likes them, no?

Picking up baby Mélanger from her first day of child care, a carer gave me a run down of how she managed (without me!) during the day.  At the end she remarked, “She is quite an inquisitive baby.”

All babies are inquisitive, I am sure, as they have so much to learn about the world.  But baby Mélanger’s daily discoveries reminded me of my own curiosity in life.

For some time now, I have been nagging myself to explore a selection of never-before-been-used ingredients, test out new taste combinations, and experiment with different recipe techniques and methods.

In particular, inspired by Asian flavours.

Sure, I can soak up some detail in a well thumbed food magazine, flick through a cookbook, or read up on some great food blogs as a substitute.  But for me, there is nothing quite like trying something yourself.

Besides, you get to eat the goodies at the end!

So for this month, I hope you enjoy my Asian inspired assortment.  For many of you, the flavours and style will be very familiar – I would love your feedback if that is the case – but if you are like me, hopefully you will also discover something new!

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