Thom & Aimee

Two Hobbits. The Kitchen. The Garden. And trouble ensues.

Tag: caramel

French Crêpes with Caramelised Bananas

The Chinese New Year holidays has messed up the time for me. Saturday felt like a dreaded Sunday, and today feels like a late Friday hangover. Its not alcohol that’s affecting my thoughts, instead the usually harmless caffeine has finally decided to work its wondrous magic last night. I barely slept a wink.

Last week, N made some scrumptious crêpes for breakfast. Waking up to a plate of freshly made crêpes on a weekend is the best feeling in the world. These French pancakes are very versatile. One can serve it alongside any fruits that are in season, and eat them with caster sugar and lemon (which we love) or a dollop of creme fraiche. Alternatively, make it a dessert and drizzle chocolate or caramel all over, or even turn the dish into the famous Crêpe Suzette. They are terribly simple to make and can be served for breakfast, afternoon tea or a indulgent supper.

Serve it with fresh milk, black coffee or dessert wine befitting the meal.

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Le Noël Blanc

Christmas came and went like a ghost from a Charles Dickens novel. We have been planning for our first dessert table for more than a month now. Different state of emotions ran through us: excitement, fear, calmness, confidence then the usual freaking out. The funny thing about Christmas was that there was always not enough time whether you were feeding six or 50 people. Something was probably missing or not done. (That was always solved with a glass of pinot noir and a small amount of charm.)

Dessert tables can be daunting. Just google it and you can find plenty of different inspirations and examples. The beauty of a dessert table at its most basic and importance is that it must be an aesthetic masterpiece. Some might disagree but we have a reason of saying so. A lot of colour coordination comes into play, alongside complementary props. Many use icing and fondant to achieve that level of thematic consistency, which is something we as bakers are not keen on. To all cupcake and fondant lovers, sorry, we are just not that into them.

But as all dessert tables, yes, there was still a theme to abide to.

Working with an upcoming events boutique The Magpies, we were given a small brief: White, Rustic and French. The France that everyone knew well were the chic streets of Paris with their high-fashion houses and a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. To achieve rustic charms, we decided to drop ourselves into a region famous for its rolling lavender fields and charming bastides (country houses): the south eastern part of France, Provence.

When one speaks of a Provençal Christmas, the famous 13 desserts come to mind. Here was the difficult part. As fascinating and mouth-watering 13 desserts could be, churning out so many types of sweets could become literally a Nightmare before Christmas. There were a number of other factors that came into play: the need of balance between the savoury and sweet, dietary specifications, a tight baking schedule and availability of ingredients and recipes.

So, many recipes were tried and tested. Those you see on the table above are the successful bakes after weeks of homework. We tried to keep the Provençal spirit alive with or without the 13 desserts. It may not be the best representation, but it was still as delicious. We hope to execute the real Provençal Christmas desserts one day. Someone, please let us know where we can find a good Calissons recipe in English!!

Here was the menu that was served:

Two types of hassle-free tea sandwiches, one with eggs and chives, and the other was roasted chicken with cranberry sauce. Lovely roasted potatoes served with mustard mayonnaise. And a personal favourite – mini Caramelised Onion and Gruyère tarts.

The sweets were fronted by a magnificent chocolate Gugelhupf cake (I’d call this the show-stopper), toffee nut macarons, dainty orange blossom crème caramel cups with meringue, and a dark chocolate fondue served with marshmallows and bananas.

To quench one’s thirst, we had Lemonade and Pastis de Marseille. (Yes, it’s a summer drink but pastis is such a fixture of the Provençal culture that we had to serve it.) We also gave Ginger nut Biscuits as a little gift to the guests.

At a glance, the menu does not seem extensive or difficult. To be honest, we did not meet with any major mishaps other than some burnt caramel. This was our first dessert table after all, we could aim for the stars but it was better to get it right for a start. As with many beginnings, it can only get better the next time.

Pictures are from our friends at The Magpies. (Thank you girls!) For the recipes, just scroll down to the end of the entry!!

By the way, The Hobbit came out 2 weeks ago and we were very very happy and satisfied fans. If you have yet to watch it, go catch it (especially in HFR 3D, it’s eyegasm galore)!!!! WE INSIST.

Now that Christmas is over, there is only 3 more days to the New Year…. we feel old already… *sobs*

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Frivolité Macarons (Salted butter caramel and apple)

Pierre Hermé was probably the first celebrity I’ve ever met and something I never forget. Having him shyly thank you for enjoying his famed desserts was just surreal. Then, macarons were not as popular as they are now. One could say my virgin taste of a macaron was from the Master’s hands (No, not John Simm’s). Since then, there was no looking back.

There are plenty of macarons offered within the island today but good ones are scarce. Having tasted many of the tiny sweets from across the world (thanks to a well-travelled brother), we were able to appreciate how difficult it is to have consistent and almost perfect macarons in one box.

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Apricot & Caramel Madeleines

These French little cakes always remind me of the cartoon Madeline. The girl donning a lovely yellow and so very small but full of character. This being our first attempt, we’re proud to say that they turned out perfect. Beginner’s luck!

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Issue 1: Apricots

Why apricots? There is no real reason why N and I chose it. It was just an accumulation of ideas thrown back and forth, and it was either them or peaches. But we were very gung-ho, or  just plain naive. Either way, apricots became our first experiment for Thom & Aimee.

Apricots are strange little fruits. They look like peaches with their yellow pinkish bottoms, and that’s probably where the similarities end. They are like Robin to Batman (Peaches). Important but always the sidekick.

Since they are rarely used in Asian cooking, we have never really eaten them before. Both of us being apricot virgins, it was new territory for us and knew not what to expect. (And made our fair share of mistakes.)

Verdict of the Taste Test: “Oh. Right…..”

We were slightly underwhelmed by its flavour – a tad too shy and mildly bitter. Suddenly, we wondered if it was a good decision lugging tonnes of them home. (Mr. Nigel Slater did say that they tend to disappoint.) But do give these apricots a chance; they like to surprise the doubtful after some cooking as we found out. I’ll let N talk about the recipes…

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